Keeping in purview the growing awareness regarding mental health and the emergence of an active effort to combat it effectively, the idea of preventive measures over curative measures becomes significant. As far as preventing the advent of a disorder does, tracing its origins can be the best way to go about it. Most people hold in perspective some common reasons that lead to depression, but often look at an incomplete picture, which tends to intensify the discomfort of the disordered individual, and thus offers her with little help.
Let us first consider the role of physiological factors in leading to depression. This not only includes imbalance in the levels of hormones, specifically norepinephrine and serotonin, and genetics. As it turns out, genetic correlation with mood disorders has shown positive results. This suggests that depression can be the result of inherited inclinations. This, coupled with psychological factors in most cases, leads to depression. Psychological factors leading to depression consist of a wide range of elements.
Unresolved childhood issues and insecure patterns of attachment right from an early age can continue to impact one’s life. In fact, psychoanalysts like Freud especially emphasise that most disorders are caused due to unresolved childhood issues. Other psychologists, known as behaviourists, contend that social learning can lead to depression. This includes repeated experiences in the society in the absence of positive reinforcements. Constant punishment or lack of reinforcements can often trigger feelings of worthlessness, which might ultimately lead the patient to believe that they have no control over what happens to them.
Drastic disbelief in the role of autonomous actions leads to this sort of despair, often termed as ‘learned helplessness’. Cognitive factors might also lead to depression. Our styles of thinking and reasoning can sometimes make us prone to depression. For instance, the habit of rumination, a cognitive process where one focuses on the causes of a problem and its nature rather than the ways to solve it. Distorted thinking can creep in if we fail repeatedly wherein we believe it is our worthlessness.
This in turn leads to primitive thinking, a cognitive process wherein one formulates opinions about the world that cannot be changed (in this case, for instance, that of worthless). This sort of thinking might become embedded in the very process of cognition. The last culprit behind the cause of depression is, as for every mental disorder, society and culture. Socio cultural factors can determine one’s susceptibility to depression. People belonging to the lower rungs on the economic ladder are more likely to get depressed, as are women.
Women in particular are victims of social ostracization that has tended to limit reinforcements to a great degree and deny them complete autonomy. This tends to push more women than men into depression– a statistical result that is truly a consequence of social inadequacies. While psychologists continue to contest about which of the aforementioned factors is the most significant cause of depression, it is possible to come up with a highly effective model to prevent it, without having to divulge in that debate.
The solution is simple: since the sources that can often become the cause behind the disorder are varied, its prevention too, should be addressed from all sectors. Awareness must be raised even regarding the physiological or biological perspective so that people can remain cautious. Additionally, conducting classes for parenting, trying to maximize normal lives for children, is crucial because the imprints of childhood remain with us for the longest time.
Shifting the attitude of taking corrective measures through punishment to reinforcement is imperative- People invest effort into things that they perceive as beneficial, and reinforcement has been seen to be statistically more effective than punishment. The last area of emphasis is, of course, change in some attitudes of the societies and their cultures. The moment a society expresses support towards individuals, psycho-social tension decreases. We shall all contribute towards forming a warm and welcoming society.
-Contributed by Tinka Dubey
Picture Credits: leafscience.com