This post is based on this article. An Alternative Perspective of Depression and Anxiety
- There is reasonably persistent concern with the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder and its methods. How it identifies and defines things is based on the research and culture of the times; each iteration has changed significantly. Some disorders disappeared while new ones emerged. The requirements and thresholds for diagnoses change. What we label as abnormal is defined by what things are common at the time
- An example of the previous point is the change in the exception for grief/bereavement based depression. In the DSM-IV, depression due to grief was not considered actual diagnosable depression. Now, in the DSM 5, they are both accepted as disorders and that results in them being able to be treated the same. Same therapy, same medication.
- Is depression a matter of neurology or environment? Are we really deficient in neurotransmitter operation or is it our lives depressing us?
- Are we treating symptoms or addressing root causes?
- I have to admit, I dislike "sick brain" language. Considering it 1) may be inaccurate 2) can be used as an excuse and remove accountability 3) ignored completely environmental components and 3) it just doesn't sound good to me. It makes me uncomfortable to think that my brain is broken or has the flu. HOWEVER, I also acknowledge that whenever a part of the body is not operating according to personal or societal expectations, we conclude it's malfunctioning or disabled
- The methodology of research is prone to mistakes and inaccuracy. No study is totally objective. That being said, it's suppose to be scrutinized and retested for accuracy. That's part of the scientific method
- Neurotransmitter explanations for mental health dilemmas tend to be more theory than empirical data, apparently
- Engagement in life with a sense of purpose & meaning is thought to be a huge support
- Solutions to these problems are not individual acts, they ought to be based in a social community. (similar to addiction but that's for another time)
- Notable Exerpts
- "This is radical, but it is not, I discovered, a maverick position. In its official statement for World Health Day in 2017, the United Nations reviewed the best evidence and concluded that “the dominant biomedical narrative of depression” is based on “biased and selective use of research outcomes” that “must be abandoned”. We need to move from “focusing on ‘chemical imbalances’”, they said, to focusing more on “power imbalances”."
- "After I learned all this, and what it means for us all, I started to long for the power to go back in time and speak to my teenage self on the day he was told a story about his depression that was going to send him off in the wrong direction for so many years. I wanted to tell him: “This pain you are feeling is not a pathology. It’s not crazy. It is a signal that your natural psychological needs are not being met. It is a form of grief – for yourself, and for the culture you live in going so wrong. I know how much it hurts. I know how deeply it cuts you. But you need to listen to this signal. We all need to listen to the people around us sending out this signal. It is telling you what is going wrong. It is telling you that you need to be connected in so many deep and stirring ways that you aren’t yet – but you can be, one day.”
- "If you are depressed and anxious, you are not a machine with malfunctioning parts. You are a human being with unmet needs. The only real way out of our epidemic of despair is for all of us, together, to begin to meet those human needs – for deep connection, to the things that really matter in life."
- So what situational and environmental componenets are influencing my mental health? Being hindered and feeling confined by social decorum/rules and what’s said to be appropriate? Encountering a lot of people who don't operate or think like me and aren’t willing or able to validate it or merely be open to it? Struggling for financial stability? Lack of many meaningful human connections? Knowing the exclusivity and difficulty of social mobility for people with brown/black skin in the U.S? Not having the securities in place to experiment with ideas more and take risks? Being motivated by purpose more than money despite wanting more of it and needing it to operate in the world? (I've tried working hard at things that would get me more money. I've tried the hustle and grind approach and because the job/task felt banal I literally couldn't do it. Ability to do left me.)
- I have a lot of risk factors.
- Meaning is based on how you valuate things. And that can change. Maybe too swiftly for me?
So, I don't know how much of my mental health is related to biology and how much is related to environment. Thus, I don't always know the best ways to address it.