Depression is a serious mental illness that requires months and sometimes years of treatment on the path to a cure. Millions of Americans across the United States are affected by depression each and every year. Depression is more commonplace than you might think and it will not go away on its own.
Depression is reaching epidemic proportions and imposes tremendous costs on society. It is a condition that occurs at the interface of the individual and environment. Stress is the primary driver of depression but a host of other causative factors can be involved. One of them that is virtually ignored is the role culture can play in the frequency of depression. The psychologist, Oliver James, has argued that our society is making too many people mentally ill. If the trends in depression incidence are to be believed he may well have a point.
The culture we are living in has no inherent meaning, and no dialogue with nature, If we are fortunate, we may have an ocean retreat from the man-made. If we are less affluent we may make special trips to connect to nature, be it at the zoo, or the botanical gardens. But for most of us nature is absent from our daily life.
We seek solace in the physical. We buy what we don't need, because it is supposed to make us feel good. We work harder to buy more, because it may make us feel better. Safer. In the process, we become alienated from our families. We spend too much time at the office, we have too much work pressure which we hope will translate into money and purchasing power and ultimately, safety from financial anxiety.
Cities are disintegrating, Developing a strong sense of community is crucial and “culture” is one of the important elements that can contribute to such a development. As cities expand, people of various ethnicities or social groups are thrown together into sharing a crowded space, and this often either forces them to abandon their identities or forces them to cling to their identities unreasonably for what they perceive as survival. The former encourages anonymity, whereas the latter fosters divides among various groups. Neither way is positive to the development of an urban city, because anonymity may create depression.
We are living in a culture that believes that science is the only valid way of knowledge. Instincts and tradition have become left aside. We are experiencing an age of rapid change, increasingly scarce resources, growing population, cultural mixing and many uncertainties about the future.
The fact that stress and culture can be among the primary causing factors of depression makes it clear that depression cannot be defined simply as a "brain disease". That we need to attack depression from other angles such as the culture in which we live in.