Types Of Depression

The Causes Of Depression

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Causes of depression continued

4. The repression of anger

There are other ways in which parents may make their children more likely to suffer depression in adult life, even within the framework of a 'normal' childhood. For example, some parents punish their child's displays of anger or aggression so severely that the child becomes inhibited from consciously accepting or displaying his aggressive urges. Up to a point, of course, children do have to be taught to conform to socially acceptable standards. But if this is taken to extremes, the child develops into an adult who represses all his angry and aggressive feelings. Many psychiatrists and psychologists believe that repressed anger is a major cause of depression and anxiety. The reasoning is that if you don't express your anger, it must inevitably be turned inwards against yourself and so become the cause of much depression. One might expect that at least some depressed people who were encouraged to express anger would experience a lessening of their depression; this does indeed seem to be the case.

I have seen many men express cathartic rage in groups processes such as those available in male self development groups such as the mankind project uk. I recommend any man who thinks he is at risk from his anger to investigate these excellent forums for growth and initiation rituals into true manhood - these are the simplest way for men to get true emotional maturity.

5. Learning by imitation

A child develops much of its behavior and a large proportion of its thoughts, feelings and attitudes by watching and imitating its parents. Thus, if a child sees his parents get depressed at every setback or obstacle in life, as an adult he may himself react in a similar way to stressful events.

The wide variation in individual childhood experience is a factor of great importance in determining a person's depressive tendency later in life. Some people will never experience depression, some people will respond to trivial stress with depression, and some will only feel depressed after they have experienced many very stressful events.

6. Stressful events in adulthood

There are many cases of stress-related depression which have no obvious connection with childhood influences. Two examples are depression which develops after some personal success and depression in an unhappy marriage.

You may think it strange that success and achievement can induce depression, but there is no doubt that this does sometimes happen. Why? You may yourself have worked towards some goal, putting time and effort into reaching it, only to feel a sense of anticlimax and emptiness when you did so. Perhaps our objectives may be less fulfilling in reality than in our imagination. Consider a man who after many years struggle achieves his personal target of managing director of a company. He may suddenly realize that his life has become strangely 'empty', with nothing to work for and nothing to look forward to. Perhaps he realizes that he is isolated from his wife and family because he has paid more attention to his business than his home. Perhaps he discovers that he has been used by 'friends' who thought he might be able to help with their careers or promotion. Perhaps even his marriage was based on his wife's appreciation of his ambition and ability rather than his personality. He may become depressed because he sees himself as having succeeded in business but failed in some other areas of life. This will be made worse if he realizes that those other areas of life actually mean more to him than his managing directorship.

Depression in marriage is very common, a fact which is not surprising since there can be more sources of stress in marriage than in any other relationship. To take only one example, some people marry because one partner fulfils a need in the other. Such a marriage is fine for as long as the partners maintain the same relationship, but the trouble is that such interactions tend not to last very long. A classic example is the man who marries at the start of his career when he needs a wife who can skimp and save, bring up the children and run a house on a low income. Later, he moves into top management and wants a wife who can act as a perfect host, converse on an equal level with his colleagues' wives and support his ambitions. If his wife cannot or will not adapt to this role, the conflicts that arise could cause her to become depressed. In addition, the husband may deliberately undermine his wife's self-esteem with hurtful remarks about her ability, appearance and attitudes, and so make her feel even more depressed. If the couple go on living with this relationship, the situation can only get worse.

Another common example is the marriage where the husband wants his wife to look after him as his mother used to. This rather 'parent-child' relationship is all very well as long as both husband and wife stick to their defined roles, but as soon as one of them begins to move away from his or her role, trouble is not only likely - it is almost certain.

7 Ill health and health problems

It has been said that nothing is as important as your health, and there is much truth to this statement. For the difficulties and challenges of ill health can wear even the most resilient person down. My suggestion is that if you have difficulties with your health, then you need to consider how these problems can best be dealt with. For example, male yeast infection remedies can help overcome this extremely common sexually transmitted diseases. There are other, equally common problems which you can do much to cure. If you have potentially life threatening conditions such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure, you might consider using some techniques to lower cholesterol naturally or to engage in a slow and gradual program of changing your diet or exercise routine so that your blood pressure will lower safely over time.

Here are some other common causes of depression:

the conflict in adolescence between dependency on one's parents and a desire to break away from them

  • the financial pressures and loss of self-respect which can result from unemployment

  • the isolating and restricting effects of shyness

  • the stress of loneliness

  • an inability to achieve personal goals

  • when the demands of employment exceed one's ability to cope

  • moving from a familiar environment to a strange one

  • the type of loss events listed earlier

  • when someone on whom you are dependent for your emotional well-being leaves you

  • an inability to obtain sexual fulfillment or other sexual worries

  • periods of ill-health

  • during the period after the birth of her baby, when a mother finds that her romantic notions of motherhood are dispelled by feeding, clothing, changing the baby's clothes, and sleepless nights

  • an unhappy home environment

A depressing environment

As we implied above, the stress of human relationships can be a major cause of depression. A depressing environment has been described as one in which 'thousands of verbal and nonverbal exchanges take place daily ... and stir up in the vulnerable individual a loss of self-esteem, guilt, inexpressible anger and a sense of not being understood' (Flach, 1975). Here are some examples of the ways in which some members of a family may keep others depressed:

  • Keeping an individual from finding some degree of independence, while one or several members of the family maintain control

  • Stirring up separation anxiety; that is, encouraging a dependency that convinces the more dependent member that he cannot possibly survive without their emotional support

  • Delivering ambivalent messages that undermine self-esteem and at the same time block legitimate self-defense, such as 'I love you, in spite of the kind of person you are'

  • Repeatedly provoking guilt by making the other person feel responsible, regardless of the facts

  • Misinterpreting intentions and motives so that the more insecure member begins to doubt his own perceptions, even though they are more accurate

  • Contaminating family interactions with a competitiveness that stems from envy and jealousy

  • Providing a monotonous, unstimulating environment that resists any effort to introduce humor, spontaneity, and joy

  • Refusing to permit any open show of emotion, and in particular healthy reactions of anger

  • Using a chronic state of depression to express anger indirectly, making others feel helpless, guilty and confused in the process

  • Blocking open and direct communication

Depression and anxiety

These frequently occur together. This is not surprising, for they can be thought of as two extremes of a spectrum of possible responses to stress. Depression is a direct result of stresses caused by circumstances which exist now, or events which have happened in the past; anxiety, on the other hand, can take the form of fearfulness about what might happen in the future.

Quite often, anxiety is 'free-floating', that is, not focused on anything in particular. However, it can readily focus on all sorts of common problems: financial difficulties, health problems, the state of the world, crime in the streets - the list is endless. Irrational worries like these produce considerable anxiety, so that a depressed person may therefore find that his already dreadful burden of depression is increased by extreme anxiety about all sorts of problems which seem all too real to him.

Anxiety makes the experience of depression even more unpleasant. Sometimes it is so intense that it disguises depression. There is more about anxiety here - but note that you can combine treatment for feelings of anxiety and depression.

Next: Depression and you!

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