Friday, June 26, 2009

Depression and culture

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.


Uncle Tree said...

Anonymity may create depression. I wonder why that is.

As if, freedom is antithetical to responsibility. Does it all amount to how much pressure we put on ourselves? To conform, or not to be a conformist? That is a cultural question. In nature, that question does not arise, because it is demanded of us.

Depression, the way it is spelled in English, sounds and looks like it's a way to relieve pressure. In order for us to feel low we must distance ourselves from the world's demands and the responsibilities that come along with it. How low can we go? How much can we take? And if we make it through the eye of the needle, do we have a right to call that an accomplishment?

We say, "They won't make a change until they hit rock bottom." But is it true? You say, depression "...will not go away on it's own." So, it doesn't come of it's own accord? One can't be born with a bent towards melancholy?

"We seek solace in the physical." If you want to get in touch with Nature, you have to touch it. Hear, see, taste, and smell it for all it's worth. In this respect, physical is good. As soon as we start to make judgments about it, we have 'gone mental'. We are not supposed to judge others, so we turn that psychic energy back onto ourselves. We may not like what we find when we do that. It can be a humbling experience, but does it really have to cause one to be depressed? The impetus to change...I wonder where that really belongs in the scheme of things, Mariana.

Mariana Soffer said...

Uncle: Because having a sense of self, knowing who you are, where you belong to, and with what social groups you can interact it is fundamental for having a good quality of life.

I guess it is an important point how much pressure we put ourselves in our lives. I guess you could never be happy if you have ridiculous high expectation. which are almost impossible to reach. Then you are never going to be satisfied with your life..

I do not thing we have the right to call getting as low as it is possible for us an accomplishment, Lowering the pressure while leading our normal lives, that is an accomplishment, we need to learn to cope with pressure in a better way for doing that.

I do not think depression usually goes away on its own, it usually needs an internal fight. I believe some of us are born with a melancholically predisposition. And regarding to hit the bottom I guess for some is needed and for some is not.

Judgment will leads as always to something bad.
I do not know where does it fit, the impetus to change, but I know an important part of it which is the following:
Accept yourself with all your failures, forgive yourself for your mistakes, but never ever resignate by thinking that things are always going to be the same.
Thank you very much for so many thoughts shared, I excuse for my answer, cause it is not very solid, I am trying to learn more.

the walking man said...

Having been diagnosed as clinically chronically depressed among a raft of other definitions I understand what you are saying here Mariana.

I am not depressed now in any way or shape or form, not because of any intervention by a psychiatrist or counselor, to me they were to a man full of shit, who didn't understand themselves much less me.

I live in a very urban, segregated environment where skin color plays a huge role in most decision both public and private for most people here. I simply don't care ergo it is not my problem.

I touch nature every day, nature is everywhere, both human and ecological. I don't need the ocean or the forests to commune with myself. I only need the freedom to live within the world I live on my own terms, whatever they be.

Of course there is the social construct against murder and other assorted mayhem one must conform to if one is to avoid even further classification but give me my freedom from fear and worry and I will not find a NEED for the cautionary mindset of depression.

I find that most people get depressed because they fight and try to control the things they have no control over. I can not change poverty or war or homelessness or hunger; all things I have no control over so I don't worry about them nor do I fear them because I have been in all of them but when I see one person in need I know I will offer at best a temporary relief to their suffering. I will never be able to change it only aid them for a minute.

So why fret over what I have no power over. It is sufficient for me to control what i can in my life and in that I find that control simply means accepting the condition of the moment and then all is well.

Shubhajit said...


I like the point of nature's role in our depression. True, we don't mix well with nature at all and depends on science too much. But all our technology, progress and evolution are against nature.

We progress because we can fight with nature and go against it. Nature says, if you feel hot, go and sit under the tree but we made hand fan and subsequently AC. nature says don't cook food and we got to know how to cook food and as a result now we can't digest raw materials. Whenever we try to over smart nature, nature try to make it even. When we are going to understand the nature of one virus and nature throws another virus to us.

Humans are the finest creation. because when human say God he think of angel and when God say Angel, he think of man. We are the only species who can get the enlightenment and that's why Purusha (nature) bestows us with depression. without depression how do we understand the path of absolute peace. And again mind you, not every human attain peace at the same time, it is gradual process, otherwise world will stop moving and every calculation proves wrong.

This global warming etc everything is natural process, it is the matter of involution. Whatever is being made, will destroy one day.

Now again come to depression. Depression is very natural phenomenon. A man who only sleep, eat and satisfy his pleasures, will also depress one day and feel what the pathetic life he is leading. How to get rid of depression? I am not the right person to tell you the thing because I am also depress. And the degree is quite high :)

Lots of love

jambuku said...


The "age of the individual" certainly has a lot to answer for, not least the further erosion of cultures. And yet this erosion is a logical symptom of widespread self-interest.

Mainstream society encourages extreme self-interest and this in turn encourages the rejection of more traditional community and family values like sharing with and caring about others.

Ironically, like you say, when our sense of place in a community is gone we also lose our sense of self. How important is our so called individualism then?

If noone cares about me...
how do I share? ...
If I cannot share...
what is the point?

What contradictory beings we are. Great post.


TC said...


"The culture we are living in has no inherent meaning, and no dialogue with nature... for most of us nature is absent from our daily life."

I live in a city and have neither ways nor means to travel more than a few miles, so am always extremely sensitive to the pure joy of getting a step or two away from the urban density and just feeling the air, light, space, plants, and at least possible presence of nonhuman creatures.

But when on midsummer night I wobbled my way up to a large rocky promontory (its nooks and crevices once used by native dwellers to grind acorns, basic sustenance), and looked out over the city below, toward the great ocean beyond, I saw only a brown-orange hazeglow--no true night, no stars at all though the sky was clear, only the toxic flood of human-made illumination being flung up from the myriad city lights blazing.

I had gone up there to see the stars, but it seems the stars are no longer to be seen. I'm sure you're right that our disconnection from the rhythms and the processes of the natural is a great source of stress in our lives. We can no longer feel the earth under our feet or see the stars.

That experience caused me to search a bit and learn mine is not the only urban area lost in that starless evening haze of the new kind of

Night on Earth

valbrussell said...

I've read your post with great interest mariana. You've said many things which are crucial to understanding what is now an epidemic. I feel it's important to differentiate the differences in depressive diseases. There are genuine biologically based disorders that can only be controlled with chemical intervention through the use of mood elevators and levelers. Then, there is the environmental depressions you mention and certainly a modification of surroundings and/or people can cure it. Then, we have the pseudo depressions that are really created and promoted by a health care system that feels everyone needs a pill, whether they do or not. Then, there is a depressive disorder caused by post traumatic stress disorder that is treated by temporary chemical intervention occasionally and behavioural therapy always. THIS is probably the most pervasive of all and virtually unrecognized because the event isn't often linked to the person's depression, but many doctors are becoming more aware this trauma related depression, primarily because of WW2, Viet Nam, 9/11 etc. Child abuse has been a major contributor to this sort of depression also on a mass scale. As always mariana you make me think, touch my soul and get people talking. hugs :)

Lavender said...

I cant agree more. Although not the sole source of my personal battle with The Black Dog, it has been put to me that my rather bleak view of my own species is not helping me achieve a healthy mindset. I however maintain that said bleak view is valid, at least in the main, and Iam not the first to hold such.
I enjoyed this piece and it inspires in me a hope that one day I could find the energy and time to write my own theory down.

Ribbon said...

I like Oliver James. I've read a couple of his books and in fact I'm just coming to the end of one now.

I like your approach to this topic of depression.
Meditation and the practise of putting myself in the position of the observer (observe yourself arrive at a particular state of mind without judgement)enables me to prevent depression.

best wishes

Jessie Carty said...

I watched a documentary not too long ago about the prevalence of depression medication advertisements that are now showing up in Japan. And, it seemed from that reporting, and from knowing myself - and others - who have had bouts of depression it almost always has to do with living outside of the type of person you really are. Like putting an introvert into a room of extroverts. What do you think is going to happen? anxiety - depression, the need to fit in and the inability to do so - thus leading to medication or drinking or escapism.

good post :)

Jo said...

Your post really hit home for me. I am working in a job and in an environment that is against my nature. I am creative and artistic, and I am working in a government office. I feel like a square peg in a round hole, and it is extremely depressing. Not only that, but it is draining the creativity out of me. When I get home from work, I slump in my big cozy chair and watch TV, and turn my mind off.

I'm lucky that I live in an area where I am surrounded by trees, and I see nature on a daily basis. But for the most part I feel very detached from anything natural or spiritual. I have had to do some soul searching lately as to whether or not I want to continue in my spiritually draining job, or have less income and utilize my creativity, which is such a huge part of me.

I'm so glad I read your post today. It has helped me make me decision even clearer. I need to let my spirit sing for a while.

Rakro said...

It seems our society encourages triviality and an only way to think/act. Once, somebody told me we prefer this way of life because humanity tends to search for comfort; avoiding the delicious complexity of having more than one way to manage our culture. Of course, this leads to anonymity, which – I agree – it’s a key factor in contemporary depression increase.

Although, I also consider we need another approach to deal with depression, than only as a psychological ill; I don’t foresee, in a short-term, any practical solution to this problem. It’s clear we have to revalue the relationship we have with nature and ourselves, but how to do it when the tendency is an obscene materialism and the lack of self-communion?

Yes, some of us may try to fight with frivolity, but what about the rest?
Are we (the ones that realize about the problem) really exempt of falling in triviality?
Just some ideas I have on mind…

Btw, I like a lot this blog…

Mariana Soffer said...

Guys thanks a lot for your interesting comments, I am without time to answer this day, but I will tomorrow or the next for sure.
Tanks and take care

Mariana Soffer said...

Guys thanks a lot for your interesting comments, I am without time to answer this day, but I will tomorrow or the next for sure.
Tanks and take care

David said...

There is no doubt that environment plays a large role in depression. We need to pay more attention to how we live and the choices we make. Choosing to engage in meaningful pursuit and creating value is a choice that empowers us greatly.

Harlequin said...

quite thoughtful and thought-provoking as usual; thank you.

I imagine any of us who have lived in, through and with depression can find resonances here... I certainly can.

I also like the work of a wonderful semiotician and psyhoanalyst, Julia Kristeva...she has a marvellous book on depression : Black Sun... her take is that depression is a healthy response to a culture soaked in violence and duplicity. Your comments seem to me to connect with this sentiment.

Mariana Soffer said...

The walking man: Thanks for sharing your experience, that is very valuable for me. I also had been diagnosed
the same as you where, and like you a bunch of other definitions too.
I think is fundamental to understand how extremely high expectation can ruin your life.
Excellent what you say about nature being everywhere, it makes me happy to think that, and also gives me hope.
Besides I agree that acceptance is paramount, that is how you start living a better life.
A pleasure hearing your thoughts

Mariana Soffer said...

Shubhajit: Hello my friend.
I am not sure that progress technology and evolution are against nature, they should be able to
get along well, there is nothing that shows they can't. The problem is people choose one thing
and forget about the other, but there is no need for life to be like that.

What you say about progress reminds me of an article I read where kids where not given antibiotics when they got ill
therefore they took longer to heal. But on the long run they developed their own inmunity agains that flue
and they did not got ill anymore.

I do not understand why you say "without depression how do we understand the path of absolute peace", I do not
think about depression as a peaceful state, it is more a painful one full of anxiety and restlessness. But
maybe I did not understood your hole paragraph, I might be wrong here, if you please clarify the hole paragraph
it might be great.

What you say about involution sounds very very interesting to me, kind of the black holes against matter. Matter
versus antimater being equivalent in strength.

Sorry to hear that you are depress S. I can tell you that if you search long enough, the relief will come,
you have to search for your own way to get out, try this and that, try everything that you can
, and slowly you get to know more of yourself while being depressed, and you get closer to stop it as the search advances. But you have to try, otherwise nothing is going to change.
Send you a smile

Mariana Soffer said...

selfishness, competition, no family values, exactly jambuku, that is fundamental, it is excellent what you say about self-interest, because it is maybe the most important factor I can think of for society to fail. Cause as you
say we loose our sense of self. And its fantastic also that you mention that individualism doesn't mother when
we lack the sense of self, it is paradox-like. And it shows how stupid we can be because of the "i me mine" thing,
I think the ego is what drives us blind and doesn't let us see the consequences of our actions, but also it could be that the competition instinct among humans went out of hand.

Wise words (the short 4 sentences with the long one).

When you mentioned the contradictory beings we are you reminded me of something I always like to say:
"it is incoherent to try to be coherent"
Send you hugz

Mariana Soffer said...

I liked a lot how you describe what you see, the words you use, how they sound. very nice.

Exactly what you say is what I thought before, that the disconnection that you mention can be a great cause of harm, but at the same time
now that I read what walking mind said about nature being everywhere, I am not sure about that, I
might have changed my mind.
Maybe getting disconnected from nature takes away one form of healing that we have, maybe the effect is mostly that.

and let me quote from your post to end this reply:

"We are coming almost to the end of night on Earth

The stars will before long be lost to us forever

Nature will have had to find another place

In future night may exist only in abstract theoretical darkness"

Thank you very much TC, for stepping by

Mariana Soffer said...

You certainly understand what I think, I do not think it is wrong to take anti depressive pills,
neither I believe that depression is always caused due to external factors alone.
Like you say there are the following factors:
1. biological
2. environmental (I guess you imply also cultural here, or you missed that one)
3. health care system induced (and also big pharma publicity)
4. traumatic event
My point here is to show the causes that can be avoidable just by changing certain habits, that
we have now, but did not in the past. So we can re-think about our lifestyle habits that are causing us
the harm.
Very interesting what you say about PTSD, the information you shared is certainly accurate, and also
brings to mind the causes of suffering that human beings make to each other. Many of those are being tried to
hide by the people that cause them, probably cause they are ashamed of what they done.

Thank you very very much, keep being like that

Mariana Soffer said...

I am glad that you agree with me, but I sadly do not understand yourself, either you are being
ironic, either is an expression or I am having mental problems induced by the cultural depression.
I am staying with the expression thing, I guess you mean with black dog depression, then It
makes sense. And you use very nice words by the way.
You should definitely write your own theory about things, It feels great to try to make
sense of things.
Bye bye

Mariana Soffer said...

Ribbon: IT is an interesting author to read, what a coincidence that you are just with one of his books, I am surprised.
I like a lot what you say about avoiding judgment and meditation, that is a great approach I think.
Take care

Mariana Soffer said...

jessie: Great thoughts, It excellent that you said it like that. Sure if you are going to be
in a place where you are not meant or made for you are going to be sad. The thing
is probably to avoid making humanity live that kind of life, by stop making the already mentioned
bad stuff. And also acceptance is fundamental for dealing with that.

Mariana Soffer said...

Ribbon: IT is an interesting author to read, what a coincidence that you are just with one of his books, I am surprised.
I like a lot what you say about avoiding judgment and meditation, that is a great approach I think.
Take care

Mariana Soffer said...

I liked that you tell your story here it reminds me of mine, I finished college and then my dad
said that I where on my own, so I got to get a job. I started working in a petrol company, Oh my god, doing
small computer programs to store the information about the drilling jobs.It was so boring that I thought I would kill my self if the rest of my life was going to be spent doing that kind of thing. But the problem was that it was mostly depressing, cause all the people that worked there where so boring, so hopeless, that I thought that I was going to become like them.

So there you go, if you know who you are, and you know why you are doing what you do (need the money), then you don't get that depress by that. Indeed you can start thinking more interesting stuff to do there, you can start playing with your imagination and create new stuff. Something so simple as to bake cakes for all the people once a month.
I am glad you comment on the post

Mariana Soffer said...

I certainly see a tendency towards comfort and boredom, or even to become a robot. I have always,
and still am obsessed about having that kind of life. I think it is the worst thing that could happen to me
even worst that dying or any serious harm. I would call it to be death in life.
What you say reminds me of the chaplin movie modern times, about everybody working doing
boring tasks, behind the assembly line.

how to do it when is an obsen materialism and a lack of self-communion? Maybe trying to educate, teach others
and ourselves that materialism and selfishness only leads to unhappiness and lack of peace with oneself.

Don't lose hope on improving by thinking most people don't care, cause in that way you become one of them.
What you mean by triviality? to be always the same? If that is it, I wouldn't be afraid ever
the important thing is to do the best you can.
Glad you like this blog, bye bye.

Mariana Soffer said...

That is what I like to hear people say. One of the things I try to do in this blog, when I can, is to make people pay more attention about things, mostly to the important ones.
But I can not be all the time witting about the problems humanity has, I do not know enough about that;Anyway I think it is also important to learn, create and have fun.
Bye bye

Mariana Soffer said...

First of all thank you very much for your compliments, they make me want to go on.
I guess practically everybody can relate to this problem, either personally or trough a close person that suffers it.

I checked this woman who certainly seems very interesting, she was also a philosopher did you knew that? She is completely in tune with my thought on depressions, you are right in that. there is just one think I do not agree with which is her feminist-fighting side.
Anyway I am going to buy her book if I can get it while I am in the US, cause it really seem to be great what she says regarding depression.

Lila said...

Hi, I find your blog very interesting, thanks for sharing what you know along with your thoughts.
This is certainly a harsh topic, I guess almost everybody can relate to it or is close to someone that
has the problem. I was wondering what are the mayor causes of depressions that are known. I have been feeling down, and I wanted to see if there are things one can do to avoid tempting destiny to make you feel worst.

Mariana Soffer said...

I did some research and found the following:
* Abuse. Past physical, sexual, or emotional abuse can cause depression later in life.
* Certain medications. For example, some drugs used to treat high blood pressure, such as beta-blockers or reserpine, can increase your risk of depression.
* Conflict. Depression may result from personal conflicts or disputes with family members or friends.
* Death or a loss. Sadness or grief from the death or loss of a loved one, though natural, can also increase the risk of depression.
* Genetics. A family history of depression may increase the risk. It’s thought that depression is passed genetically from one generation to the next. The exact way this happens, though, is not known.
* Major events. Even good events such as starting a new job, graduating, or getting married can lead to depression. So can moving, losing a job or income, getting divorced, or retiring.
* Other personal problems. Problems such as social isolation due to other mental illnesses or being cast out of a family or social group can lead to depression.
* Serious illnesses. Sometimes depression co-exists with a major illness or is a reaction to the illness.
* Substance abuse. Nearly 30% of people with substance abuse problems also have major or clinical depression.
Bear in mind I am not a specialist, what I can tell you is this seems coherent to me. It doesn't seem to be much
you can do to prevent it, except avoid the substance abuse (I bet you knew that)
Hope you get better

Shubhajit said...

without depression how we can know the elation!

We just know how to ride a horse but true learning comes when we fall. The great depression always comes into everybody's life, most of people experience it in between 50-60s and blessed those who gets in early ages. The more early people get this depression, the more he or she know how to ride again after fall. However, not everyone is so strong to encounter with an open heart and that courage is also comes from the past deeds. It is just a cycle and we all move gradually moving and come back to the same place.

Suppose there is a ball in a room and an open window and I am hitting the ball randomly to push that ball through that window. one time will come the ball will go outside but that hit is necessary. sometimes we hit hard but ball still bounce back to me, sometimes little hit make that ball go outside of that window. So, as it with depression, it doesn't matter whether it is small or large in general but it has to hit on the right note and we see the light. Now it is up to us to chase that light. That's the elation.

We, human can only get out of that window. And what we call God, will always help us to get out of that.

And don't get depress with this weird explanation :)

with love

Ariel_from_Plainsboro said...

Hi Mariana: I'll be brief, Valbrussel just "channeled" my thoughts on the topic of your post. I could not agree more. Depression is indeed a Janus-like disease, with many facets and multiple causal factors (enviro-genetics at the top).
In your post, however, you say "We are living in a culture that believes that science is the only valid way of knowledge". I am really not sure that that is the case, given the fact that most people believe more in God, or Gods, and practice many different forms of religion or believe that a God-like hand intervenes in their everyday lifes. Perhaps I misread the sentence and you were referring to the impact of technology and how society has become more dependent on the assortments of gadgets (some of them just pure, empty consumerism) that technology provides nowadays.
Thank you. So long and have fun in your trip.

Rick said...

Here's something more depressing- I'm editing for a psychiatrist who informed me that at a recent conference in Toronto, it was shown clearly that depression could be cured instantly by inserting a wire fiber into a certain part of the brain and applying a small electric current. He cheerfully made the point that although there was much work to be done on developing this as a sort of "pace maker" for the emotional regulatory aspects of the brain, that at least the actual nature of the problem was now identified as a elctro-biological issue.

Where will the maket for all the self help books go?

utopianfragments said...

mariana, as always it is a joy to read your posts and the dialog that follows them. as always, i am sorry i do not add much to it, but i prefer to enjoy the talk and drift away.
please forgive me.

Mariana Soffer said...

My hunch is that it not like you say, you can know elation anyway, but I do not have any argument or demonstration to prove that idea.

Although you second paragraph maybe thought that maybe you are not wrong, it is true that we learn from our mistakes, and that that is one of the best ways to learn.
I am just rambling here but I think there are people who have chemical imbalances that have the disgrace to suffer more than the rest, and they do not necessarily live happier than the others (who did/do not suffer from this affliction) after they recover for their problems.

I agree with what you say about life being a series of cycles, although I think it in more hopeful terms, I think that is like a spiral that you cycle and cycle but get closer to be better and wiser as you travel trough this beautiful shape.

I liked a lot your metaphor about the ball, it is really a good one.

I did not get depress with what you told me, I am still a little puzzled about it, but it gave me hope what you shared.

Love for you my friend

Mariana Soffer said...

Welcome back to my blog!
I think Valbrusell comment was excellent as well, by the way you should read her blog.

You are right about the fact that there are many people that believe in a kind of god, probably more than the ones that believe in science, indeed my point there, which wasn't well expressed at all, is that people are forgetting about ethics, caring for each other, nature, and other important factors more and more, and are increasingly believing that science is the solution to it all. This happens specially among the people that are well educated and have a certain influence in their communities. I do not mean that science is wrong, I mean that they are obsessively focusing on certain aspects of it that are detrimental for human life quality; and they forget that science if far far away from being able to solve it all.

It is also true that people are consuming more and more, I guess it gives them instant satisfaction, so it it easy to enter the vicious cycle of working and buying without looking beyond. Not to mention the way publicity instates them to do so.

Technology is advancing quicker and quicker and has an instant kind of interaction/satisfaction with no space for delay or wait at all, this might not be good for humans, cause they need time to process things to understand them and learn slowly from the world.

Thanks to you too my new friend, Interesting what you said.

Mariana Soffer said...

It does not surprise me, indeed I almost worked with a guy at a hospital in LA who did research about
doing implants in people brains. He inserted small chips in highly dysfunctional and mentally ill people, like a sever epileptic. What this chip was intended for is to prevent the seizures from happening by predicting when they where coming (by reading the signals the brain emits) a few instants before
they occur. Once it detected that the convulsions where about to start, it emitted electrical current to certain brain parts, mostly the ones that where close to the corpus callosum, to avoid the seizures start. This was all in an experimental phase, but I thought it was an interesting project, cause it might help improve severely epileptic people quality of life.

But the case you are telling me sound scaring, can you send me any information about it? a paper? a link? the person who did it? My god we will not be humans anymore, we will be pure androids. Reminds me of the Aldous Huxley books with their population behavior fully controlled and devoid of free will.

I guess there is a very fine line between doing good things and bad things with the technology we have know, I guess we still have to learn to deal with the power scientific discoveries gave us so far.

You made me laugh with the self help book industry thought. I am kind of skeptical about them anyway.

Mariana Soffer said...

utopianfragments: I am glad you do my friend, you do not need to say anything, Just your nice comment is more than enough. You leave an interesting message participating like that.
As one blogger says "write just write anything anything anything anything write write anything anything ...".
Probably is better not to do that

~otto~ said...

great post

Robb Todd said...

great post

Robb Todd said...

great post

medicatedlady said...

Depression is, of course, both a crutch and commonly misunderstood...and so commonly found that it takes on a commonplace connotation. Stress, culture, biology, personality tendencies...depression is a whole clusterfuck of all of these.

I am both a sufferer and a studier of depression. I have a BS and MS in psychology. Here's the deal. You have to be really specific about what kind of depression you're talking this a popular definition of depression, a clinical definition based on family doctors, a clinical definition based on psychologists or other clinicians? The point I make is that there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of links to depression. Sure, culture can be one. Cultures that are individualistic, promote stress, and encourage self-exploration are absolutely related to depression. But then, the diagnosis of depression (and how often it is diagnosed) can also be directly related to the fact many insurance agencies require a diagnosis when you go to the doctor in order to pay your claim, so people get labeled something when it might not be completely accurate. Plus, I personally think family practitioners are generally not qualified to diagnose mental illness because they do just slap a mental illness diagnosis onto anyone and everyone.

Sorry for the soapbox. ML

Mariana Soffer said...

Otto:I thought you would be interested, due to the things you write and how you express them.
You talk about consider yourself a nobody, about the act of rape, about picking your nose and you also express the anger inside your mind.

and this poem:

not really well maybe

she slid her tongue
from the bottom to the tip
and he was thinking about the words he'd use to describe it
because for him
writing about it
is even better

Says you prefer to live in your head trough your words, rather than in real life.
I don't know if that is depression, probably is not that, but there are several attitudes and feelings you have in common with the depressed ones.
I guess you can see that I like your witting a lot, and I follow your posts.

Mariana Soffer said...

rob todd: Thank you very much sir! I am honored now cause I just discovered who you are, you are the guy who made the six sentence blog, which is an amazing idea that you had, and is working really fine. I think it is a very successful blog, and you also edited books about the work. I am submitting my six sentences once an again till I get accepted (Just tell me to stop if you feel like marking my emails as spam).
Take care dude

Mariana Soffer said...

Medicated Lady:
I thought you had depression problems, and also that you where freaking smart and had knowledge,
but I never ever in the world thought you had an MS in psychology.

You got me a little confused with your second paragraph, lets check I understand correctly:
1. There are different definitions of depressions depending from where they come from (like which discipline the definition was based on)
2. There are many causes that can be linked to depression
3. There is the diagnostic that is some time needed due to bureaucratic causes. This diagnostic needs to put the person in a predefined slot that is described in the mental-illness manuals. This slots are not necessary accurate for diagnosing everyone.

Thank you for your expert opinion my lady, and also for making me understand that the soapbox is not just the cage of the soap.

Indeed I would like to know a little more about your personal opinion some time.

jofr said...

Stress can also be seen as an adaptation to desperate and hopeless situations (i.e. to situations and environments where continued effort to pursue a certain goal will result in either danger or loss of valuable resources).

Mariana Soffer said...

Jofr: Thank you very much for comming to my blog, I really enjoy reading yours.
It is very interesting the post about depression that you linked here in this comment, it really made me think a lot. It makes sense that due to humans unachievable and extremely high expectations nature made depression appear to control the crazy maniac thoughts and acts about those.
What confuses me is that you say that stress can be seen as an adaptation ... I think you meant depression instead. I don't know maybe I am wrong.
Thank you mr Jofr

jofr said...

Oh, sorry, you are right, that was a typo. I meant depression. I think stress is an adaptation, too.

Mariana Soffer said...

Jogr:Thanks a lot for the aclaration, I think you also meant the link to be called like that, I just did not mentioned cause it pointed to the right place anyway.
But that is excellent cause I want the other people to read it , and with the other words was difficult to understand.

Id it is said...

Given that man is a social animal, 'annonymity may create/cause depression'. Perhaps it is the inability of an individual to mingle/feel one/ adapt to his environment that leads to this sense of annonymity. This in turn could be a result of his/her lacking the skills to adapt, something a society has to provide to its members through education both within and outside the home. An individual sans these social skills is bound to feel alone/ignored/anonymous and this is perhaps the first step toward depression...?

Mariana Soffer said...

You are right about annonimity, social interaction and adapting to the environment,they are factors that
can produce depression when they are not right. These factors can also influence each other.

There is a nice quotation that says:
“What differentiates humans from all other creatures is the deep and unquenching desire to be appreciated.” .
I am sure that almost everybody has that desire, and that the person that isn't able to fullfill it suffers the lack of it.

Great approach the one consisting in educating the people with problems. I would pick it also, because when a person learns to overcome at least one difficulty without pills or alcohol, later in life this experience will help it do it again. Knowing that one can leave behind or improve the difficulties it has already prevents depression due to the hope it provides.

tipota said...

i am an artist who comes from a family of teachers and psychologists. i have been there too. i learned that from the ancient chinese healing practices of acupuncture etc there was never developed a therapy for depression because the condition was unknown. i decided to unknow it too. yes connection with nature and the present moment in full presence leaves no space for the malady

ojo said...


I think depression is caused by external and internal factors.
A psychologist friend of mine, who has himseflf the illness, told me taht, in his opinion is caused by a chemist factor.

I can´t say much about it. My knowledge is short. But I think there are, of course, external factors too.
Same of them are in te post:
Status inconsistence, poverty, segragation of population, less familiary bonds.

I think, beyond that, self esteem its so important to bare the depression.
At last, we ourselves are the only thing we´ve really got.

One more thing: in south america, most of us are working hard only to surive, not to buy innecesary thing.
Survive fighting it´s cause of depression too (i think).

I read somtimes the blog, and find it interesting, but my poor english don´t help to undertand the posts, and of course don´t help to ccemment.

But the effort guards the pain


Carlos Dante Ferrari said...

Mariana, It´s been a real pleasure to find your blog. After so many years focusing human behaviours, feelings and minds phenomena through fictional literature, I find very interesting to learn about scientific views & theories concerning these items.
On the other hand, thank you very much for your kind advice about the contact form in my blog. I´m trying to fix the problem. Let´s keep in touch!

Mariana Soffer said...

tipota: I liked a lot what you said, is remarkable what you said that the did not invented a cure for depression because they did not know it existed, because certainly lifestyles where very different then than what they are nowadays.
I was thinking that most of the religious texts and belief do not refer to anything similar or related to it either, maybe it also has to do with the fact that believing in something helps guide your life and follow a more determined path, which will certainly deter depression from appearing.
Thank you very much for stepping by

Ruela said...

" is fundamental for having a good quality of life."

Yes, I agree with you Mariana.

I don't have time to be depressed...

Mariana Soffer said...

Ojo: I think that it can be cause by both, but many times there is one that is the main factor.
The factors you mention are important external ones for sure.
I agree with the self esteem, because if you believe that you can overcome the problem it is much more likely that you will. And it is like you say that we are the onlything we got, so true, I always think about the metaphor that says that if you want to learn to swim you have to throw yourself into the water, not somebody else.
About surviving factor, I think it is, I did not think about it before, but for example we have more uncertanties about our futures and we have to stand worst condistions in our jobs.
Glad you find this interesting, whatever you do not understand please feel free to ask, or if you want to comment something I can translate it for you. I just added the google translator thing and hope it helps undertanding this, but I did not try it myself, so I do not know if it coeherent what it says.
Take care my new friend

Mariana Soffer said...

Ojo: digo que creo que lo que causa depresion son probablemente cosas externas e internas, pero que en general hay una que tiene mas preponderancia que la otra.
Que la autoestima es importante porque al tener confianza en que uno va a superar la depresion tenes muchas mas chances de haerlo realmente. I sobre que uno solo se tiene a uno en realidad traduje mal lo que dijo es "Si queres nadar tirate al rio" lo cual se refiere a que sos vos el unico que puede hacerlo para aprender.
I acuerdo con el factor de supervivencia en el tercer mundo ya que tenemos peores condiciones laborales y mas inseguridad sobre el futuro.
Feliz de que te interese I sentite libre de preguntar cualquier cosa que no comprendas o que quieras escribir y no sepas traducir.

Mariana Soffer said...

Carlos Dante Ferrari: Thank you very much carlos, it makes me very happy what you said, there are a few more out there, but it is not easy to find them generally, I was wondering why is that, can't figure it out. I also find what you do very particular and intresting, not many people invest their time in that intresting kind of writting you do in your blog.
Yes, let's definetely keep in touch a pleasure speaking to you.

Mariana Soffer said...

Ruela: I am glad you agree with me, and certainly if your quality of life is very poor, depression will most likely express, cause there are no satisfactory things in your life and you probably live under a lot of stress, with a lot of obligations that you have to take care of by doing things you hate to perform.
I do not know about the time I have to think about it, I do not know if you can just not be depressed cause your life doesn't let you stop. I think it is more likely for your life to colapse and stop doing the chores you are supposed to take care of, making your life a complete hell. But when I think about people who have kids, I think I might be wrong.
Thanks for your thoughts

foam said...

depression is a weighty and huge topic. there are many reasons why depression can occur. no doubt culture plays a role, although the term culture in itself is a wide ranging term. but one thing is for sure .. you can't just choose not to be depressed anymore. it doesn't work that way.

Mariana Soffer said...

You are right about the word "culture" meaning, I just checked in Wikipedia and it says that is commonly used in three basic senses:
1. excellence of taste in the fine arts and humanities, also known as high culture
2. an integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for symbolic thought and social learning
3. the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization or group.

I guess in our case we are mostly focusing in number 2.

It is excellent what you say, about you being unable to choose to stop being depressed, the same way that you do not choose to stop having a flue. You have to undergo a treatment to overcome those conditions (among other things), it is not just a matter of wanting it or not.
Takes for sharing those ideas, which are consider important to understand for all of us.

Jagriti said...

mariana, i agree with ur prespective that the side effects of today's culture are a cause of lot of stress and depression seen around...humans have created a mess of themselves and the world that had been given to them...most of our problems are self-created ones...

humanity, compassion and brotherhood is rare..especially in those with power to change things...

so....there will be many causes of depression, but the solution for it is only from the inside...

i have been through depression for my own reason, so have many people i know for their own reasons...but the solution for everyone lies in their own inside..

acceptance, letting loose and faith in god works a long way in getting out of the depression phase...

poeticgrin said...

"We seek solace in the physical. We buy what we don't need, because it is supposed to make us feel good." This is an important point. What you mention here is the culture of consumerism. Consumerism has become basically a religion, with stores and shops serving as churches.

I think depression can be directly tied to consumerism on some levels, the wanting of what we don't need. The Tao of Nike. The Catholicism of Coca Cola. Even spending too much time "wired" on the Internet - I know I am guilty of that one.

Would we be better off if we all took self-imposed short-term trips into some sort of exile, away from billboards and commercials and the media who tells us how to feel and what to crave?

Mariana Soffer said...

Jagriti:I can not say that I am glad that you agreee with this particular issue, bud I am happy that you are here. And that you think relatively similar to me. I always think about self-destructive persons, maybe this is a self-destructive society.
I do not understand where those impulses come from.

That is one thing we have to rethink, why is it that powerfull people rarely have compassion? Maybe is not like that, maybe we consider powerful the ones that have money, and we follow that rule, but if we open our eyes a little, and stop thinking in this vicious circle kind of we can get out of this self=imposed jail about beliving the powerful are mean and they are the one ones who can do something therefore we are doomed.

Yes like you say you are the one who can bring you up, by seraching in you, there is no other way.

I am sure you have to start with acceptance, that is fundamental, but for me then comes no resignation, somewhore let loose as you say and seraching a lot which one is the way.
AS i Told you happy to see you here, and that you share your inresting thoughts.

Mariana Soffer said...

poetgrin:I think consumerisms is also related to the culture of instant satisfaction, and no tolerance to frustation, not even for a second.

I like a lot what you say about consumerism becoming like an organized religious entity. It is true! More thinking about that I guess is needed, but it is realated like in addicts to change one drug for another. I loved the tao of nike!!! do you know a website called addbuster, it is pretty good and it is pretty related to what we are talking, but includes and focuses a lot on commercials.

I think we have to be more connected with ourselves cause if we are connected, we inmediatelly fill that buying the last ipod makes you feel next to nothing. We have to belive more in our inner self than in the outside word. But we have to have our solid ground to stand on, to be able to do it, oterwise we borrow the outside place to step on.

kj said...

so much i could say here, perhaps later i will return. but for now;

wings and roots. we need both. and when one or the other is missing we can become hopeless and/or helpless, and that is a horrible way to live and feel.

love to you,

Lucy in the Sky said...

And we have come to call this "evolution"...

jinjir minjir said...

Sweet madre of god... I have forgotten what I wanted to say...

But I am happy I've gone through the entire commentary in here. Never done it before with your commentators, but i'm glad i did now. 'Tis very mind-cleansing. Literally :P

jinjir minjir said...

Oh yes! Now I remember: what if depression regards immaterial or internal/spiritual/mental 'things'? Is that down to childhood, or 'character formation' if you like, or is it down to the modernity of life again? I mean, if during the period of life where you learn how to behave, and you are in need of feelings (care, love affection, trust, etc) that you don't get because everyone else is too busy buying stuff (or dreaming about buying stuff), would we blame consumerism again? Or would we pay more attention to the case study (kid, family, hierarchies, structures, perceptions, etc)?

Mariana Soffer said...

Yes it is a broad subject this one, it has many angles and points from where to stand.
Feel free to return whenever you want, but I think that not getting overwhelm and just by witting what is now on your mind, it the best approach for this complex post replies.

Excellent words, you are right we need wings, to explore new things, to feel free, to help us change and adapt, to help us see things that are far.
Roots, as I said before, we need to be sustained by a firm solid base. That gives us a sense of security and self.
I told in this post what you say in this comment, we need hope, otherwise life is filled with pain.
Balance, balance is fundamental balance the unstable and stable aspects of our life in a correct
Take you KJ for your lovely thoughts!

Mariana Soffer said...

Lucy in the sky:
Evolution is so misunderstood and full of false beliefs by our society.
This subject (evolution is too long), to explain it here, but sometimes things evolve to contrarrest other bad things and this new evolution trains turn out being bad by themselves.
Evolutions does not assure us that the best will survive, don't forget that.

Mariana Soffer said...

Jinjir: I am a non believing Jew, a Latin one of course. Anyway we just do not say madre de dios. we say Mame maine, or shalom. But I loved that you tried to use my language
and infer how we talk.
Interesting the fact that you read the comments from this post, I think they are several that are mind blowing, and most of them make you think a lot. I wish I had more time to answer more thoroughly to them all.
Actually the think I feel more proud about my blog is the comments quality and the thought provoking talks.
You are always welcome to come and talk

Mariana Soffer said...

jinjir: Blaming should we banned, blaming is passe, people should stop pointing at what they think cause their problem and start having a wider, more open perspective about how things work in this word.
It is important to understand the causes of the problems, in order to understand how to stop the things that are working wrong.
But as you say is FUNDAMENTAL to pay more attention to the whole problematic cycle along with its components.
I also think that family/human values, cultural values, the important things in life, ... should be thought.
There is also this tendency people have to blame it to the past, for example in psychoanalysis they can reach the conclusion that their are not happy cause they weren't loved as child, but this persons might be 77 years also, and I think it is lame to blame it still to that, themselves and what they do/did with their life is what they should think of.

Robb Todd said...

Actually, I'm not the guy who started the Six Sentences blog. His name is Rob, I use and extra B. He published me a couple times, though:

You can still like me anyway. :-D

~otto~ said...

Wow, nice work on bringing that poem up ... I had forgotten about that one. Didn't realize people were really reading that stuff.

Snowbrush said...

I hesitate to comment without having read the previous 77 responses for fear of being redundant. Since I don't have time to read them (at least in their entirety), I will be so bold as to comment anyway. It is easy (and probably accurate) to blame various aspects of our culture for depression, but was it your intent simply to propose that study is needed?

Stu said...

"anonymity may create depression". Yes, I'd have to agree. Or fear of anonymity, even.

For about a year I've been working as a research assistant on a depression study at the University of Melbourne. The study's not so much looking at socio-cultural factors, but I see them as absolutely vital to an understanding of depression.

On the one hand the 'disease' model may discourage consideration of the deeper, 'big-picture' factors, but on the other hand it may be necessary to characterise depression as a disease in order to cut through all the stigma and misconception. These are still rampant in Australia, despite some positive public awareness initiatives from governments and NGOs.

Mariana Soffer said...

robb todd:
What a coincidence that that guy published you, I am sure I got confused due to your similar names.
But I think is a strange coincidence anyway.

I have been checking your stuff, for example I like your short post "Let Newspapers Die, but Please Resuscitate Journalism "
I agree with your idea there, pretty accurate and smart. The problem is that we need to get informed, that is
what should not be lost, who cares about newspapers. I think we need to try to rearrange the news systems,
it will be/is changing anyway buy maybe we can invest in it so the information we get access to is relevant to us, comes for serious sources, and the relevance of it can be known by us with as little distortion from the powers that by
as possible. We need news curators, as well as information ones.

I LIKED YOUR POEMS TICKED TO DEATH AND reunion. I really do like the style and the bare truth they show, without more camouflage that one or two specially chosen words.

So you are right, I like a lot some of the stuff I saw you wrote. I like you anyway
Step by often my witting friend

Mariana Soffer said...

Otto: I am glad you liked me bringing that up, I did it because I think it is wise, smart, stylish, and truth skiking in your own personal way.
I hardly pay attention to people if I am not into what they think or do, otherwise I get lazy to take more than to seconds on replying their post.
Keep witting, but please, please change the color of the background of your skin, cause is hard for me to read.
Bye dude

Mariana Soffer said...

Don t be afraid of redundancy our word is redundant, we are redundant, the universe is.
You are so right my friend, cause with pointing at what might be right and cause problems, which nobody
tough of before is a great start for solving. But the main point is to start seriously developing strategies that can make things better in this word.

Cynthia said...

I'm late to this conversation, but having experienced depression as manic/depression-currently in remission due to medication, also a close watch over exercise and non-processed food, no white flour, sugar caffeine, as I have believed for a long time not only is depression a lack of community and connection, but a result of diet. Whether it be processed food, the length of time a vegie sits in a truck and a store before it actually gets to my plate, lessening it's nutrient value or a piece of meat shot up with hormones. Much of my research about depression when this was first misdiagnosed was around the effects and differences between the kinetic and dynamic body (if I'm using the terms correctly - I hope.) I found only 1 in three will respond to the 1rst line SSRI and very few after that setting into a motion a whole other chain of events.
Seeing my husband suffer from depression is something new and unexpected. He has always been very strong, not prone to fits of mood. The onset was very situational - the economy related to his purpose and contribution to the world around him disappearing. However his family history shows a deep rooted genetic trail of mental illness, long before diet was an issue and also during a time when physical activity was a given.

My husband and I live on 5 acres of Sonoran desert and are used to nature as part of our world. The trade off was losing community of similar interests.

Your thoughts, Mariana, reflect much of the same info in a recent article in "ODE" magazine - or is it "Health" magazine I was reading. In any case, my feeling is much the same about situational depression, and if one has a genetic predisposition for depression, add all the environmental factors, community factors a mental state is not always within our control. In the end, I don't believe depression to be a character flaw. I mean hell they used to lock "hysterical" ladies up in the attics in the Victorian age.

Mariana Soffer said...

Excactely stu, even the fear of anonimity, can make you down, cause you reenact the state of anonimity in yourself, even dough it is not going on in the outsideworld.

You are a wise man, it is great that you understood that, cause things, in this case persons, are in a context, they are not isolated from everything else. So even dough you are treating persons who have depresion caused by a traumatic event, all the factors arround and involving the person have to be checked and payed atention to ass well.

I would have thought that australian people where more advance regarding their conception of what depresion is, but I see I was wrong. Like you say is very important to correct the missconceptions a large part of the population have about depression, because this will help with the healing of the people that are depressed.

Txs for your thoughts Stu

Mariana Soffer said...

As long as I am mantaining this blog you are always welcome to comment on any post, that I will check it out.
Thank you very much for sharing your depression case, it is very interesting and illustrative, at least I think, cause
you clearly depited the things that affected in your particular case, which are pretty different than all the things
other people said.

I am not really aware what are the effects and differences about the kinetic and dynamic body, I just understand that
kinetic stuff is cause by dynamic stuff.

I am sorry about your husband, it is not unusuall for mentall afflictions to express themselves in middle aged or even older people, and they can, but not necesarely be trigger by a situation as the one you describe.

I wonder how living where you do alters your own persona, I might like to experiment it myself eventnually, just try and see if it fits with me, and if like you say I do not miss being more connected with society too much.

Not only histerical ladies got locked up, whitches got burn, wholes in the brain where performed, and we are better
in that respect but we still have miles to evolve regarding that way.

It is a pleasure to hear your stories and your thoughts, I have to work now, but I will be comming back

geek said...

Hi Ms. Mariana,

First of all, I just wanna say I like your post. Indeed, there are biological and cultural aspects that cause depression.

I've just been diagnosed of Major Depressive Disorder just about 6 months ago, and I am still currently trying to fight it. Of course, there are times of hopelessness but I'm still trying to stand up from those moments. I am just happy that my mom is always there to pick me up.

Though I've just been diagnosed a few months ago, I've been suffering symptoms of depression since about 5 years ago. I've had family members with the same experience, but none of them were medically diagnosed.

You see, I live in a society where psychological health isn't seen to be much of importance. When I fist sought the advice of my university's guidance counselor and told him I was suicidal, his response to me was, "Maybe you just need a boyfriend." Some friends told me that I was just being, "dramatic or 'emo'". One local author even suggests that depression might just be a "philosophical problems" and not really a medical one. I understand that he wasn't trying to generalize the entire instances of depression, but I think it is a problematic statement to say in a society which have no understanding whatsoever of the illness itself.

The university I am studying in requires one to be highly competitive. Much is expected from each student as we are said to be studying in the "premiere/flagship university of the country". It also creates a highly tensioned and individualized environment. Thus, it is also difficult to find people to connect to as everyone just don't care -- keeping some to be isolated to their own world. The administration is also making our college life as difficult as they could, which is very sad.

I believe that I am not the only one in the university with this problem. But many other students remain undiagnosed. I would've been one of them if not for a concerned friend. But as I said, it is taken lightly here.

I would like to appreciate what you're doing here. In informing people about things such as depression in space which can be reached by many, you are touching other people's lives and helping in making more people understand. Good job! Have a nice day!

Mariana Soffer said...

Hello mr Geek.

I always think that I am doing well as long as I enjoyed something of my day, nevermind how small or big it is, the important think is that I still have the possibility to feel good about some things. You know that my mom is also always there for me, and that make us very lucky cause it provides with a resource that it is very likely to help us overcome or at least improve our problems in this life.

It is extremelly intresting your experience with the reaction society had when you tried to communicate with them about your mental problem. It is also pathetic that a counselour at university can be so ignorant and therefore put you in serious danger, And as you say the level of knowledge society has about this illness it is incredibly poor.

Regarding your situation I would recomend you a couple of thins
1. Practice an aerobic sport at least 3 times a week, for example go running. To start do not push yourself too much, if you get tired run 5 or 10 minutes then walk 5 then run again, for at least 30 mins. Then keep shortening the walking time till you reach 30 minutes running, no walk. Of course streach before and after, Later on I can give you more advice regarding this
2. If you are a procastinator and have several things you should have done, try to do a little bit of the late stuf either every day or day in day out.
3. Talk often to your mom
4. Try to find a good analyst or psychatrists who can teach you to know yourself better, have deeper insight about yourself
5. Accept your failures but do not resign. Never resign and think that things you do not like about you are not going to be modified.
6. Consider chanching universities cause is more important mental health than money in this life

Thank you very much for your encouraging words geek, feel free to write to me and sugest think that might be usefull for other peoples lives

A pleasure having you visiting my blog

geek said...

Thank you so much for the advise! They're very much handy for me.

I'm trying to do number 1 -- but I always have the trouble coming out of bed on the day I planned to exercise.
Number 2 is very important since I've become a procrastinator -- something my psychiatrist said might be because of the depression 'cause I'm not usually like this. I also have troubles comprehending readings. I wonder if others also encounter that.
Number 3 is also important. It's difficult to bottle up everything inside. Everyone needs an outlet.
Number 4. Finding a good psychiatrist is very important. I just also want to warn people to be wary in looking for one. My first psychiatrist was our university psychiatrist. He ripped us off, and locked me up (literally locked up) in a halfway home with other mentally ill people. There were only two of us with depression among 11 patients. I could say that it really aggravated my condition.
Number 5. This one I'm keeping close to my heart.
Number 6. I've considered changing universities, but the advantages of staying outweighed the disadvantages. So, I'm just holding it up as of the moment and see what happens.

Thanks again. It feels great to be able to connect and share things with people who are going through the same/similar things.

Have a wonderful day!

Mariana Soffer said...

It makes me really happy to be able to help at least a little bit somebody who is suffering.

Can t you do your excercises at the afternoon? or before dinner? that is what I usually do cause I can not get up either.

My friend always remember to deal with one issue at a time, otherwise you get overwhelmed and confused and end up in bed again.

I would recomend to you not to pay much attention to number 2 now (at the beginning of the attempt of recovery) just do the tasks what tortures your mind so you can be free of some of the pain you are suffering from.

I would recomend you to do an effort in order to try to communicate scincerely with someone, we have to think how often do you want to do that, yet. Ofcourse also I recomend to do a big effort in order to start excersice, that is fundamental.

The shrink is a key factor in your recovery because they can happen things as the one you just told me among others. Here I am going to recomend you to trust your instincts for choosing the one, and also to ask your mother what she thinks about the one you select for yourself. The last thing to do here is to read bibliography about psychiatric treatments and also if you want about the prescribed drugs, that way you will have more resources and information for judging who is a good doctor to treat your illness. I can recomend you a couple of books if you want me to.
Number six sounds good to me as long as you understand seriously that is much more important your mental health at this moment than your degree quality, and that you are ready to leave the university you are in now if you realize that the stress and excigences are causing you harm.

Thanks also to you it makes me feel great to take advantage of the experiences I went throw to be able to help someone else. But bear in mind I am not a psychiatrist, psicologist neither a medical doctor, so please take this advice as if it is comming from a friend because I am not a professional in this field.

Anyway I am more than willing to chat to you whenever we can.
Hope you start feeling better really soon, and enjoy more living your life.

Elizabeth said...

I'm late to this discussion, Mariana, but I'd like to point out that depression (and a variety of mental problems, including psychoses) are not necessarily negative occurrences in our lives (though they can be, and are, very painful to experience).

For those who are interested in positive aspects of (the so-called) mental disorders I would suggest getting acquainted with K. Dabrowski's Theory of Positive Disintegration. If nothing else, it may help some folks reframe their experiences in a more hopeful and positive light (and it's an interesting read, anyway).

Mariana Soffer said...


As long as I am mantaining this blog you are always welcome to comment on any post, that I will check it out.
IIt is really interesting your viiewpoint, what you say in your first paragraph is amazing, IT does not necesarily need to a bad thing to be suffering from a mentall illness, specially cause they are generallly reeactions to some other problems you might have in yourself. For example depression generallly emerges in order to control the crazu amount of stress you iife your life with,

I am really interested about the aproach to mentall illness you prose, it sounds very promising to me, thanks a lot for sending the link so I can check it out, I liked a lot what I read in that page, the 4 premises, the life this guy had and how he faced it, it all seems very promising.
Thank you very much fo such a great discovery you made me arrive at,

beholdtheman said...

I wish to cast some doubts on the way you have characterised depression.

Is depression always a 'mental illness'? Perhaps depression is a valuable coping mechanism? Perhaps, our culture has aggravated its negative effects by labelling it a 'disease'. We're effectively saying, "Hey, you're depressed, what the hell is wrong with you?" We prescribe happiness as the 'normal state', in that we are fooling ourselves.

What depression may point to is a need to change your living circumstances and your attitudes to the world and others. Depression may be positive in being a sign that you need to change. Depression may be a positive in forcing you to slow down and reflect.

Some people think of themselves as depressed simply because other people have positively reinforced that they are. You shouldn’t underestimate the level of hypochondria surrounding mental conditions. There is a mental illness for just about every emotion these days. You imply that depression may necessarily follow from stress and the conditions of our society. That is hardly the case. Depression as mental illness/disease is just one (metaphorical) way of looking at an individual's circumstance. It is a convenient diagnosis for doctor and patient, because there is little resistance to the diagnosis, it's a popular diagnosis, and there are prescribed courses of treatments (drugs and counselling) available.

An unpopular treatment for depression, but perhaps the most effective one is some cases is 'tough love': "Stop being such a weak-willed, self-absorbed, self-pitying, cowardly jellyfish. Become a Spartan!" Your readers may throw stones at me for suggesting this.

There is something attractive about thinking ourselves weak, helpless and depressed that we don't want to talk about. There is something attractive about pitying people, depressed people, which is also taboo. I see this as coming from our Christian heritage. Why, for instance, is thinking oneself a lowly worm a virtue in Christian circles? I would say it just a perverse manifestation of pride. Now I will be definitely be shot down for suggesting that many depressed people are prideful, arrogant and wilfully revelling in their depressed world.

Mariana Soffer said...

I completely agreee that is not always a metal illness, and all the rest you say in that paragraph. Maybe society thinks that happiness is the normal state therefore that labeling of depression.

Compltelly agree with paragraph number 2.

There is a lot of hipocondrya arround mental illness, and there are so much missdiagnosed people, that is amazing, well probably people are prone to accept mental missdiagnosis (Isee you say this later). You say depression is a metaphorical way of looking at individual circumstances, yes, but in that case everything is metaphorical in the field of diagnoses.

I heard about the unpopular treatment, the problem with that one is that is hard or impossible to decide not to be the things you say you have to stop.
I don t know what to tell you about depression being attractive, I don't know. Giving pitty to others might be.
You made me laugh, its tru you ll be shot. By the way I am jew so what is most likely to be applied to me is the part when I feel guitly.

Snowbrush said...

""Stop being such a weak-willed, self-absorbed, self-pitying, cowardly jellyfish. Become a Spartan!"

I don't see how this qualifies as love, tough or otherwise, but it obviously does assume that depression is a character defect that can be corrected by self-blame that extends to the point of self-loathing. I daresay that such attitudes toward oneself are characteristics of depression rather than a cure, and that the worse the one, the worse the other.

This approach also illustrates the different way in which many people still view depression as opposed to illnesses like cancer. I have actually known people to tell cancer sufferers that they could get well by an act of will. Paralyzed people are also sometimes told that they could walk if they really, really wanted to. Still, such instances are rare with ailments that are accepted as having a physical basis.

Mariana Soffer said...


I completelly agree with you, I hated that sentence from the beginning but I thought it is interesting dough for ilustrative purposes, besides I thougth also the guy was kidding because of the language he uses, nowbody says spartan nowadays.

I was thihng that there are 2 things one is how you treat yourself and the other is how they treat you, like the guy who is told he could walk, that is completelly the outside world, but if you are wise enough you just do not care about those comments, the problem is when you have severe depresion you are not able to discern the validity of them.

Thanks you very much once again

Snowbrush said...

I came across the following quotation by Edith Wharton today, and thought it apt:

'There are lots of ways of being miserable, but there's only one way of being comfortable, and that is to stop running round after happiness. If you make up your mind not to be happy there's no reason why you shouldn't have a fairly good time.'

Ted Bagley said...

I go with Freud's definition of depression being a moral failure.

Mariana Soffer said...

psichoanalisis say:"The failure to achieve maturity and integration of the whole personality is a moral failure"

Budhism says about morality:"there needs to be some form of correlation between practices of morality and meditation and the achievement of those higher mental states of mindfulness, compassion, and bliss, in which the practitioner approaches liberation, or nirvana.", which implies that moral failures can be changed and prevented.

I do not agree with any of both, although I prefer the second one, I prefer the modern approach that psychiatry has, which is too long to explain here, but if you want me to I can send you some information.

This is a dificult subject for me at least, a complicated one to understand.

Ted Bagley said...

I'm the other way around.
Another time though, maybe?

Mariana Soffer said...

ted Bagley:
I got that we have different ideas regarding this topic, but it is good to be able to discuss them and express our diferences, that is a great way to learn from each other, because you hear things completely different than the ones that are in your mind, and if you are open mind enough you can think about the other posture, reflect about why you do not like it, and other stuff.
But for that you have to dare to say what you do not agree with the other. Which many people prefer to avoid.

Lydia said...

I am so glad that you found my blog and left a comment, Mariana. Your blog is phenomenal.
Regarding your ongoing conversation with Ted, who is a fellow Oregonian (hey, Ted) I applaud being able to share differing or mixed views in the blogosphere. Honest people (and in my case, blunt also!) don't do well in any forum where they are kept from free expression. So good for you in welcoming and promoting that kind of exchange. This goes back to depression in a sense, because I think one of the causes for depression is stuffing our true feelings, acting in a manner that is not in sync with our true natures.

Mariana Soffer said...

Thank you very much for your compliments about my blog, I am about to blush, thank god
no one can see me now, By the way I found your blog very interesting too.
What you comment to me about ted really makes me happy, cause I am always thinking that people do not like to be told that you eo not agree with them. But as I told him I am sure that is the key for having more interesting conversations, by being able to analize from more than one theory a certain fact. I am glad he was ok with us not thinking the same, cause I wasn t sure how he was going to react.
Regarding deñression I think you are right, this is one of the first times I dare to say
bluntly what I think, so I hope life will get better now.
A pleasure to meet you and I am sure we will continue chatting soon.

Snowbrush said...

Ted "I go with Freud's definition of depression being a moral failure."

Ted, was it his reasoning, his evidence, or his authority as the father of psychoanalysis that most impressed you?

Lydia, I'm an Oregonian too.

Mariana Soffer said...

Ted bagley:

Hellow guys, just wanted to connect to through this post if I can, since Snowbrush has some comments for your ted, I wanted to let you know so you can answer them.
I am curious Ted are you a serious beliver in froid's classic theory? In the evolved one?
Snowbrush your question is not that clear to me, maybe if you ask it in a more open way, or explain the options in more detail it would be.
Thank guys, I hope we can all learn from this.

Ted Bagley said...

I don't do the Authority thing. I tend to test that. So a combo of the other two.
The classic carried on by Lacan.
Here's a good article about it:
Being Normal: A Lacanian Investigation Into the Causality of Depression by Robert Groome

Lydia said...

Mariana, I am feeling much less depressed this early morning having found you became my 100TH follower at Writerquake! I've been looking at that 99,99,99....wondering, wondering, wondering if there would be a #100, and who it might be. So thank you for this happy feeling -- the feeling of being a kid (which you pointed out in my other blog is so very important!).

Mariana Soffer said...

that is great, I did not know I became your nu ber 100, It probably must be a little frustrating (not because one wants to have the number one blog on the web) to see allways the number 99. Indeed I did not wanted to subscribe to other's blog on the web, I was ok with the rss, but I felt it wasnt unfair for the people who subscribe to me.
It makes me really really happy that you liked my advice and even more that it made you feel better, I always think that one has to keep having fun as when one was a kid, and discover and do new things always. I love my work, I do research, and I am always learning and playing with strange things, nowadays with language and opinions from people, it is fascinating to me.
Take care my new friend

Deborah said...

Thank you so much for visiting my humble little blog and for taking the time to leave a comment. I do agree with your view on material things creating a need to work longer hours for more money to purchase more material things. I am just a little abstract/random poet expressing myself in a very simplistic way, day to day. Through longevity, I have learned to actually live life. Pleased to make your acquaintance. Deborah

Mariana Soffer said...

My plasure to be there. And I left you a comment because I found it interesting and wanted to add something to it.
It might be very good in deed to refelect in a really simple way, you might reach better conclussions that scientists with their complicated systematic reasoning techniques. Many times truth resides in simplicity.
I am please to have you here as well.

J said...

I followed your link and have been reading some of this interesting stuff.
What do you think about the ideas of essential fatty acids and their importance in diet for the brain?
I know depression has many factors and I was wondering what you made of this paper

Do you think it seems too simplistic, because they have not got many sample countries and they have not accounted for factors like socio economic, age, and other factors but just seafood consumption?

I hope it is not too much time for you to take but as you have a deep interest in the subject I thought I may ask.

I have a big bottle of cod liver oil and salmon in the freezer to be on the safe side. :)

J said...


Also there is some info here by a specialist in the subject

and another graph comparing seafood consumption and depression which I had not seen before (and which includes Japan which is not in the other paper).

Hope that is ok

J said...


Also there is some info here by a specialist in the subject

and another graph comparing seafood consumption and depression which I had not seen before (and which includes Japan which is not in the other paper).

Hope that is ok

Mariana Soffer said...

it is always a pleasure reflecting with you, as long as I have time (which I am having) I am more than happy to help you

Well the essay seems to be well done, it accurately follows the standards for being a statistically valid result, which generally includes respecting several rules and procedures which grant them real "scientific" value (you can check this values and procedures online).

First I do think that it could be perfectly viable the fact that ingesting fatty acids have important effects on the brain.

Regarding your other questions let me tell you that they are really complex to answer.

Let me just tell you a brief answer which I will be happy to expand. First of all you might be right that the population taken for the study may be limited, but the validity for the study might be also limited to those populations that where studied.

Second I think that things in nature, humans, chemical interactions, etc tend to be extremely complex. There are generally groups of interacting factors, which are almost impossible to isolate, that produce a certain outcome.
But many times there is clear relations just between 2 variables. I am used to apply multivariate regression techniques that involve several factors affecting a single result, instead of only one, cause I tend to think this gives you a higher chance of being correct. Cause on the long run you see the results on reality and maybe the acids are indeed related to I don t know what which is what affects the brain, everything can happen. Sorry if I had not been very clear, did my best. Feel free to ask please.

(why don't you send me and email and tell me a little bit more about yourself I am curious, and human)

Mariana Soffer said...

Dear J
first let me tell you that is perfectly ok, I think is great that you did research on more than one paper, cause you need to read a lot of them if you are really interested to understand something about one subject. Let me warn you, that sometimes they even contradict themselves. I think it is also important to check the status the author has or the importance of the paper on the scientific community.
And of course that is better that they add more things to the study, the more they cover the higher chances of accuracy.
Cheers man

J said...

Thanks for the reply mariana. I probably would not understand a complex answer as I have never studied research methods of science, my knowledge is fairly basic.
Regarding the correlation between seafodd consumption and depression I agree that there should be more attention paid to other variables. One thing I would like to see, and could not yet find, is a comparison of seafood consumption within different areas of the same country to eliminate differences in assessment between countries.
For example, a map of seafood or omega 3 consumption in different areas of the USA conmpare with a map of depression within the USA would be more revealing as there would be more consistency in diagnosis, cultural values, economic status. I was thinking that maybe areas deep inland where fish is perhaps not consumed as much as coastal areas may show a difference in illness rates. I tried to look but cold not find state by state data yet.
There is so much on the web it may be there somewhere.

Another thing I was wondering was how easy it would be to synthesise these fatty acids instead of taking them from depleted fish stocks, then distribute them to poor inland populations. I possibly attach too much importance to this (maybe following industry hype that promotes it's products), but so many people have related the importance of the EFA's to development, and even to the evolution of the brain, that I wonder if they may help in conflicted areas of the world where politics has failed to stop violence or aid development.
I do not have an in depth knowledge of the science to make a good judgement, and I am not in a position to make such a programme happen. I know that EFA's have been added to baby milk in developing nations but maybe more should be done along those lines. I assume that this has crossed the mind of others and been rejected, perhaps.

Thanks Mariana,
what is your email?

Mariana Soffer said...

Never mind about the scientific/technical knowledge I am sure you can grasp the meaning If I manage to express it properly.

I think in this case it would be better to add variables, but not in all of them. Do you know that one of the first things I thought the study was lucking is exactly the same you say in your first
paragraph, the comparison of consumption.

I like your attitude of being involved and try to find the data, but let me warn you many time in statistical tests it ends up being the most tedious task. In my humble opinion economic status does not have much to do with it, but cultural values might have a great influence. And why not our own inner voice.

Well I am working on making programs that help search the web in a more intelligent way, I think that is seriously
missing nowadays.

I do also give a lot of importance to helping poor nations but I have 2 comments to make regarding your digression:
1. I do not think that will make such an important change in the brain I belive more in education and the will of each person to improve himself.
2. Well I also know the story about the powder milk that was sent to africa, and I am almost sure that it ended up
doing more harm than bringing relief. I think that they took advantage of this poor population to test an completelly unsafe
product on human beings to see if they can use them themselves (while making us belive they where indeed doing charity work).
Luckly it all went well with that, but what I consider it might have cause a real harm is that they did not teach them to
be able to obtain their own food, they thought them to depend on the first world, but on top of that after several years of
making sure there where no side effect they just took that aid away, leaving the population even more carent than it was before the event, cause the younger generations did not even learn to grow potatoes by themselves.

Do not bring your capacities down you have a very interesting mind, you just did not excercise this kind of research and thinking
before but I bet you have a great future in that you might even be able to do the EFA's thing, just keep learning using your head
and in the middle remember you always make mistakes, so do not let that ever stop you.

Sorry my email is, please do write to me I am being more and more intrigued every day.

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