Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Origin of Depression

“Depression begins with disappointment. When disappointment festers in our soul, it leads to discouragement.” Joyce Meyer

Depression is as ancient as man. Man is inherently desirous of happiness. We all want to become happy; without happiness, human existence may have become meaningless. Therefore, we all want to avoid unhappiness, and this self-defense mechanism may then develop into addictive habit patterns that have ultimately become some of the characteristics of our individual personality, affecting how we think. In other words, to avoid unhappiness, we may subconsciously begin to "lose contact with our realities" and thus become the persons we are not supposed to be. Depression is a mental struggle against unhappiness that an individual wishes to avoid, and in the process becomes a different person—a person with ever-changing moods and temperaments.

To illustrate, a baby or toddlereven well-fed, dry, and comfortablemay cry because he or she wants happiness, which is not being separated from the parents; crying or screaming is the only self-defense mechanism against being separated and feeling unhappy. As that baby or toddler continues to grow, that normal child will ultimately learn the reality that to be separated from the parents is just a normal and necessary part and parcel of life and maturity.

However, the mental and emotional growth and maturity of that same child may not be consistent with his or her physical growth and mental maturity, and this inconsistency or disparity may subsequently lead to many mental and emotional problems later in life, such as recklessly driving a car, engaging promiscuously in sex, taking drugs or addicting to alcohol. If the mental and emotional problems are not properly and fully addressed and resolved, that same adolescent turning into a young adult may continue to develop more problems, such as compulsive gambling or shopping sprees. As that same individual continues to grow and mature, there may be many other problems that crop up along his or her life journey, including problems in career, marriage, family, health, money, and among many others. All these life problems and challenges may continue to create more behavioral patterns, which are only the manifestations of that individual's desperate struggle against the unhappiness associated with emotional, mental, and physical problems; they are just the self-defense addictive behaviors of that individual striving desperately to overcome depression. In other words, that individual simply wants to avoid un-happiness resulting from the many life problems and challenges encountered. 

But, according to Lao Tzu, the ancient sage from China, more than 2,600 years ago, the only way to get out of depression is to fully experience and embrace it, thereby becoming enlightened.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

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