Why is depression on the rise? part 2

Continuing with this topic, there are some common causes for people to often get depressed in life. This includes consistent failures/setbacks, losing a dear one in family ( parents/wife or children), health issues such as incurable diseases, financial problems/debt, and even hereditary from family. There is no perfect one stop solution to address the effects arising from varied sources. But to understand why this generation suffers more than previous can be studied and discussed.

One of the main understanding is the way my generation lives. My generation has been dependent on technology more than all the generations combined. I have already mentioned about the facebook effect, and other social media exposure. But along with that, the lifestyle itself is enormously altered by today’s technology. The way we eat junk/fast food leads to health effects such as obesity and which thereby leads to a bad physique. No wonder then guys and girls feel terrible about their looks, and this acts as a domino effect to trigger their moods. Not being in shape makes them feel jealous of those who are in good shape, and thus the mental trauma starts. People then step into gyms and fitness programs, but not everyone can manage to get in ideal photogenic shape. This all adds up in depressing thoughts and lack of self worth. So, as simple as eating habits can even lead to increase in depressive thoughts.

Failure in achieving a goal or aim in life is one of the most common causes to get depressed or even commit suicide. Failing in competitive exams like IIT entrance or going bankrupt in business, failing to fulfill parents wishes, or even failing to become famous actor or actresses are some of the most common failure driven depression. I have seen one of the friends commit suicide due to low grades in grad school. We all know the infamous Sushant Singh Rajput suicide case. I was shocked to read that India has the highest suicide rates in South-East Asia. And the fact that there is an infamous forest in Japan called ‘Aokigahara’ known as ‘Suicide forest’. All this shows how serious depression can get. But unfortunately, the society always blames the one who does the act. But what conditions made him do the act is hardly questioned. There is one famous movie ‘The Social Network’, based on Mark Zuckerberg’s life. In one of the scenes, Sean Parker tells Mark about the story of Roy Raymond. The case of Roy Raymond is a perfect example of what can failure and depression do. But the movie scene also conveys the underlying message that if we don’t want to end up like Roy Raymond, we need to keep working hard, and never quit. It seems like Mark took Sean’s advice pretty seriously, and that’s why Facebook has become one of the richest companies in the world. But I do feel that not everyone can become Mark, and blaming Roy ( which the movie scene unfortunately does) is not the solution to get away from depression. It was obviously Roy’s mistake to give up, but the situation that made him do so is also equally culpable.

Then, this generation is also living in a nuclear family unlike my parents or grandparents generation, which used to live together. Adding to that, is the nation’s family planning policy ( China’s One child policy or India’s ‘Hum do, humare do’ Two parents and two children policy). Many couples today cannot even afford to raise two children, and hence, many of my generation are raised alone. Due to rising cost of living, it is increasingly becoming difficult to a make both ends meet with a single earning. More ever, we see that the kids and teenagers often spend their time in playing video games, on social media and watching movies. Things even go worse when friends get together and get involved in wrong habits including smoking, social drinking, or even violence. Unlike previous generations, today’s teenagers and young adults often find themselves alone without support from family. Hence, they try to find like minded groups or even to pass time online, by making friends with unknown people in online chat rooms, or on dating sites. This always does not work, and can lead to addiction, or even sexual harassment, which further leads to depression.

Relationships have never been so fragile before as seen today. Just like the hire and fire corporate culture ( better known as Trump’s culture), breakups and patchups have become the current norm in romantic relationships. The options to find a partner have increased through dating apps like Tinder, OkCupid, Aisle etc. Many of them provide a platform for speed dating or even casual dating, with no stings attached. Many of the couples who want to date casually find this convenient, and they carry on a ‘Friends with Benefits’ type relationship. But the problem is human mind does not comprehend such type of relations. Things can speedily go from casual to serious for one of the partners, but the other one might not accept this. And so this leads to breakup, but emotional attachment is something cannot be erased overnight like swiping on such apps. So, such type of online dating and casual relationships often leads to heartbreaks and headaches, and soon they find themselves depressed and undergoing therapy.

Then, I find a sense of serenity missing in my generation. I have seen my grandfather and even parents having a feeling of serenity towards life and its problems. ‘Come what may‘ was the attitude they had towards problems which came in life. They did not get depressed when things did not work out, or when they had to walk on the path filled with thorns. Maybe because the previous few generations had seen some of the toughest time in human history, be it wars, fight for independence from colonialism, fight against poverty & inequality etc. But inspite of all the problems, they were mentally strong. They did not give up easily. But this generation is exceptionally blessed with all the comforts and leisures. This is also the fruit of the hardwork which our parents and grandparents did back then. That’s why we are living a good life, with abundance of resources like food, clothes and tech gadgets. The kids today get whatever they want, many times they don’t even have to ask for it. This lifestyle has led to a loss of value in achieving things. Ofcourse, there are many teenagers and young adults out there who do value what their parents have given them. But the attitude to face problems of life with serenity cannot be taught in richness or through books. Only life’s tough experiences can teach it, and hence, the excessive luxury with which my generation has been living has made them more vulnerable to lose faith or get depressed easily in life when things go on a rough side.

Thats why, we are seeing more and more people getting depressed in life. As discussed, there are many reasons and we do not have one perfect solution to solve it. The combination of modern technology, food habits, family structure, affluent lifestyle, social pressure, boundless aspirations etc have lead to rising cases of depression and even worst in suicides. I do believe that inspite of all the education or technological prowess, my generation should learn about mind and act like social humans. Today’s capitalist and market driven competition makes us run towards more education, better jobs, higher salary, hefty bonuses, enormous profits in business, getting the job done, make and break relationships, fast food and drink culture, and many more vices. As mentioned before about the example of Roy Raymond, it can be said that he was a perfect victim of a capitalist driven system where one mistake can end up losing confidence, hope and life at the end. Ofcourse, there is nothing wrong to work for a better standard of living, which can certainly be obtained with good education, better job prospects and good salary/business only. But only achieving these things is not life. As J K Rowling wisely said in her harvard commencement address,

personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a check-list of acquisition or achievement. Your qualifications, your CV, are not your life..

J K Rowling

However, There is No Alternative to go back towards old living like our grandfather’s generation did. We have to progress ahead and we cannot go back. But we can know our mind, and take things calmly. Meditation can be of great help here. Spiritual practices are known for making us calmer, and peaceful inside. But more than anything, the first thing to cater this problem is the awareness and acceptance towards this issue of depression, and thereby suicides with an open mind is extremely important. Only then can we solve this problem, and save lives. This post should not end here, but rather make the readers think and act to do something to help those who need a ray of hope in their life!

Why is depression on the rise?

To find out why are we getting depressed more…

For a long time I have been thinking to write about this topic. 2020 has been a very unfortunate year. Not only due to Covid-19, but also due to large number of suicides in bollywood, and other parts of the world. Most of these deaths are due to either anxiety about uncertainity of future, or relationship issues which also leads to stress. Also, the pandemic has certainly exacerbated the stress levels in most of us. I have been in Art of Living for a while, and one of the main initiatives of the organization is working towards reducing the stress and anxiety amongst the people, as stress often leads to depression. As per WHO, more than 264 million people of all ages suffer from depression. And even more disturbing fact is that every 40 sec, one person in the world commits suicide. Most of us are either not aware of this, or very often we overlook these facts, assuming it will never happen in our life. Only, when this hits in our life like a brick in the head, that’s when we realize how serious this problem is.

Stress, anxiety, and thereby depression is not something of a recent change in our life. Even our forefathers, and ancestors have had some element of stress in life. It could be due to poverty, wars, epidemic, or even oppression from colonial masters ( like British did back in India and other parts of the world). I could not imagine how much stress the jews in the concentration camp might have underwent with the constant threat of getting gased, alive! So, I do not say that stress is a modern age issue, or I am not being a luddite to blame technology for this as well.

But what we all are seeing ( especially the medical professionals, mental health experts and even spiritual advisors) is the significant rise in stress and anxiety levels in the last few years. So, I am wondering why would this be, when today, if for a moment we keep aside the dangers of nuclear holocaust, or even avoid getting into the politics of poverty, war or pandemic, we see that human life has reached quite an advanced level when we no longer have to worry about food shortage, staying warm in winter, or cold in summer, communicating with our dear ones over long distance, or fast and reliable transportation etc. Our life has never been so better, simpler, fast and comfortable in the history of human civilization.

Then, the question still lingers is why are we suffering from depression inspite of all the modern technologies and gadgets at our service? This seems like it has to do something with human nature itself. I do not say this is an endemic human trait. Rather, it is more so linked to our habits ( which could be technologically influenced, like for example, getting depressed after seeing goody-goody posts from a friend on facebook or instagram.) or even forgetting about our purpose in life ( which happens when we are too much involved in the joy ride which life offers).

One of the peculiar expectation which we often have is we should never have problems in life. This expectation itself is flawed. We wish all we had is only good times, and bad times should never occur in our life. No one wants to struggle, or witness failure. Though there is nothing wrong to be hopeful of good times, but expecting that we should never see problems is one of the reasons for being anxious, which leads to depression. When we become rich, or successful, we all wish it never goes away. But this leads to consistent fear of losing what we have achieved, and then we do not even enjoy what we have. Rather, we just keep working or worrying to not lose this. If we keep doing this everyday, then I won’t be surprised to see depression knocking at our door!

Similar thing happens when we compare with others. As I mentioned about the facebook effect before, comparison with others is an excellent way to get depressed. And this explains the rise in depression in the last few years. Because we have developed all the perfect tools to compare and thereby get depressed on a large scale. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube are some of the best mediums to express our ideas and thoughts, but at the same time there are also perfect destination to harness the vices of jealousy, envy, comparison and narcissism. Yes, because we just do not look at our posts on the wall, or see our uploaded content. We see others, and we start comparing. Though this can also be looked from the prism of learning, and making us better. But more often, we take it in a negative way, which leads to consistent thinking, worrying, and being obsessed about others. Getting more likes, comments, views, shares, emoticons, followers becomes our obsession and sooner or later, we find our mind occupied with only becoming more famous or good looking than others. Isn’t this a perfect receipe for making stress in our mind?

Gurudev Sri Sri RaviShankar, the founder of Art of Living says, that one of the main causes of depression is thinking ‘Just me, what will happen to me, me, me?’ When we overthink about me, it is the easiest way to become stressed and depressed. And I agree that this has increased enormously in modern age. Why? Because the very fact that we no longer have any urgent problems which will affect our life on a daily basis. Few centuries before, people died from starvation, disease, epidemics, adverse weather conditions, exertion due to physical work etc. Then, We, the Intelligent Sapien developed technology to solve these problems. Today, we do not die from malnutrition as we have produced enough food on the planet ( still people are dying from malnutrition in poorer countries has to do with bad distribution, poverty and politics, but atleast there is no dearth of supply). We no longer suffer from cold in winter, or die from polio. Currently people are dying from covid-19, but then we are rapidly developing the vaccine as well. Hence, we can say that we have solved all the problems atleast for a comfortable living such food, clothing, shelter, education, communication and transportation.

So, what has happened is we do not have any incentive to work for betterment of others. Rather, all we do is just work to get more rich, and famous. The companies and factories which used to produce innovative solutions to make life better, are now either involved in just earning profits, buying back shares, or giving hefty bonuses to shareholders. Ofcourse there are exceptions like Elon Musk, but the bigger pie is simply occupied in looking after themselves. Few decades before, when all the above problems were not solved, the scientists, doctors and engineers used to work day and night to find a solution. Even common people used to find solutions to make things better and help others to uplift them as well. After all, the scientists and innovators did not come from any royal family, or rich business background. They were simple, poor people who just had a passion to solve a problem which bothered humanity, be it darkness, which was eradicated by invention of electric bulb, or a vaccine for polio.

But today, we see most of us have all the basic facilities needed to live life comfortably, and so we are slowly forgetting to help others, and solve problems. We have forgotten that the real purpose of humans is to be in service of humanity. Be it inventing something, or even as basic as volunteering for the weak and old, service keeps us busy and makes our life purposeful. That’s why those who are involved in serving humanity, never get depressed. Iconic personaliities like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Nikola Tesla, Henry Ford, Charles Goodyear, Robert Goddard, and many more worked and served for making human life better. They never got depressed ( atleast not due to self obsession). So, lack of service and increase of narcissism has been one of the key factors in the rise of depression.

More to be continued….

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International Men’s Day!

Why International Men’s Day needs to be accepted by the society!

The day of Nov 19th, is declared as International Men’s Day! Unlike Women’s day, this day is not much known or celebrated either. Even Google ignores this day by not making doodles which it regularly makes for celebrating women’s day. To be honest, I was also not aware of this day until I read a LinkedIn post from a female connection!

International Men's Day 2020 Quotes & Wishes: Check This Year's Theme

The first question which came in my mind is that why is there a need to celebrate Men’s day? Just because the tradition to celebrate women’s day exists? Well, historically, we see that women have undergone generations of inequality, injustice and impartiality as compared to men. That’s why as per https://www.internationalwomensday.com/About ,March 8th is the day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

Men on the other side, has always dominated the world in all spheres of life, be it scientific, political, social or economic. The world has honored and revered men from all backgrounds, religions, culture in all parts of the world, at all times. Infact if we checkout the list of 100 most influential people of all time, we find only two women in the entire list, which are Queen Isabella ( Rank 65), and Queen Elizabeth I ( Rank 94). It is said that behind every successful man, there is women. She could be his mother, or wife, or sister. No man can ever be successful without the women’s support. But unfortunately, the world has always treated men far superior than women, and hence, the list stands as a proof.

Ofcourse, this is no way means that men in the list are not great or influential. What I am trying to convey is that history has always biased between men and women ( maybe because that history is mostly written by men!), and hence, the need to celebrate women’s day garnered the credit to honor the unsung heroines of the world. But then why men’ day needs to be celebrated?

This is because, the world has changed a lot in last few centuries, especially in the last 100 or so years. Due to scientific revolutions and advancement in communication technologies, the world is closer and connected than ever before. Thanks to spread of common education curriculum, democracy & voting rights, trade & commerce across the world, and acceptance of law and order required for a civilization to function, the world is no longer fighting wars to grab lands, resources, or even enslave people ( atleast not like Mongol invaders or British imperialists, though Taliban and few fringe elements do exist in the world) which used to happen before.

All this has led to a more civilized world, which has brought in more equality between men and women. Atleast the law says to treat men and women as equal. Thus, we see more women being educated & working along side men in business, military, politics and even in space! And I think this is one of the greatest achievement in human social history ( however late it might be)

Today we see women’s problems being recognized and accepted openly in most parts of the world. Be it the taboo associated with menstruation, or opposition to abortion, or even cases of domestic violence, sexual exploitation & marital rape. All this is being given attention and justice in today’s world. The society has accepted women’s importance as the other equal half, and this has been the greatest success of celebrating women’s day.

But at the same time, the world is also becoming more aware of the problems of men. Just as history saw women as weak, emotional and inferior for centuries, in the same way, men were always viewed from the prism of masculinity, bravery, machoism, unemotional, and dominant. The fact that men can also be emotional, and face stress or mental issues was never accepted by the world. Men were molded by the society to become stiff, aggressive, to never cry, never give up, never show emotions, stay dominant over women, earn more & be more educated than women. This was the way the world functioned for centuries. Scholars and intellectuals propounded this theory to compare it with evolution, and the way our ancestors lived, where men used to hunt and gather food, while women used to be at home to cook and raise children. ( there are some backward people like Taliban or ISIS who still believe in this theory)

But, as the world has changed enormously in the last few centuries, this concept no longer holds true. Times have changed, and even though men continue to dominate the world in most spheres of life, but the stress, anxiety, and work pressure they have to undergo to perform and stay at the top is excruciating. For example, we see that if a women voluntarily decides not to work & become a housewife, it is easily accepted by the society. But men unfortunately do not have that luxury. Men are never accepted to take gaps in education or work. Infact, going further, men are even not accepted to work under a women ( this might be due to peer pressure or male ego), but this stress to dominate, affects mental health enormously. And to make matter worse, men are not even expected to express their emotions, concerns in front of others ( especially in front of women as this is considered to be inferior and servile for a man’s macho status)

That’s why we see men’s health being severely affected, which results in some severe health issues like cardiac attack, high blood pressure etc. The below statistics shows the severity of this mindset.

Happy International Men's Day! 2019 Theme and All you You Need to Know -  WorthvieW
source

Hence, International Men’s Day is celebrated to show this other side of male personality. Even though physically or through evolution, men are stronger than women, or are more evolved to work in strenuous physical activities such as farming, construction, or fighting wars etc. But that does not mean they are emotional stronger than women as well. Infact, women are better at managing their stress, mental health and work pressure than men. This might be because women express their concerns and issues more easily with other women or even with husband/father. But men are known to never express their concerns or emotions to anyone.

Hence, this day should get more accepted by the world to create awareness about men’s mental health. The emphasis on male machoism, or ego should be discarded. Men should not feel a shame to work under women, and neither should they take stress to stay dominant at the top of the social ladder. In order to make men and women truely equal with each other, it is necessary to accept the fact that after all, men are also humans! Just like a mother, wife or sister plays a vital role in man’s life, so does a father, husband or brother in a woman’s life! The ground needs to be leveled and so Men’s day needs to get the same support as Women’s day!