Depression: One of the Scourges Our 21st Century

depressionI have been calling an alert about three scourges of the 21st century: obesity, religionism (see definition), and depression. Sufferers of depression can camouflage their condition through denial or because of shame and lack of information.

In this article I will provide insights about depression from the perspective of spirituality. I contend that spirituality can offer support for the clinical work on depression provided by healthcare professionals. It is the responsibility of professionals to provide a medical diagnosis of depression and to prescribe adequate treatment. Spirituality, though not a part of the clinical treatment, can be a part of the healing process.

What is Depression?

From the perspective of spirituality, depression can be defined as the dampening of the hope for love. Looking at it from the Back-to-the-Body perspective, depression is related to the heart. Here we consider that the human being has three major areas, namely, the stomach, the brain, and the heart. (See the meaning of these metonymies here.)

The heart nourishes the vitality of the body by distributing nutrients and oxygen to the entire body. It does this through the flow of oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood. Life-giving blood flowing to every cell, tissue, and organ of the body is like rain coming to the earth. It refreshes, revitalizes, gives hope, nourishes life, nurtures health, brings joie de vivre.

Three causes can depress the function of the heart: (a) thoughts; (b) the environment; (c) human relations. Through understanding how each of these three factors influence our heart, we can devise ways to combat depression. But note that these suggested ways to combat depression are meant to play a supporting role to the diagnostic and clinical work that only healthcare professionals can provide.

Ways to Combat Depression: a Life Style of Joie de Vivre

joie_de_vivreThoughts can cause depression if they cause helplessness and hopelessness. The environment can cause depression if it is not nurturing and positive. Human relations can cause depression if they are detrimental.

The Back-to-the-Body perspective helps to combat hopelessness by encouraging connection with the body. The body is the foundation of hope. It is through the body that we can experience love; therefore, the body gives hope for love. The experience of love is the meaning of life. Therefore, connection with the body increases hope and combats depression. All this is related to the heart.

Keep the Heart Alive

Another way to combat depression is to keep the heart alive. Heart is the frontier of the 21st century. The best way to keep the heart alive is to become a radiation of love. In other words, not to wait to be loved but rather to initiate love.

Give Perfection

The enemy of the heart is judgment coming from the brain. Judgment poisons heart, dampens hope, and sows misery. One technique to combat the judgments of the brain is to “give perfection.” This is also a way to establish harmony with others, which brings about happiness.

To “give perfection” is to establish–against all judgment–that a particular situation or event is perfect, and then say so. If something in the situation needs to be changed, leave the task of criticizing the situation to others. Do not burden yourself with that task.

Of course there will be ways to improve a situation. Of course we can find defects if we look for them. Of course we can point out shortcomings and demand correction and improvement. But this will continue to be so even after all the improvements are made.

perfectionIn other words, if you start out by looking for ways to improve a situation, you will find such ways, and will continue to find them. Thus, if you postpone joy while you work to improve a situation, postponing is what you will continue to do. This means, you are building for yourself a world of misery rather than joy. Therefore, you either decide to have joy now, or you will minimize your opportunities to have joy.

In contrast, if you decide that the situation is perfect, you can experience joy now. Is the situation perfect? It depends on perspective. If I look at my situation today, and I compare with my humble beginnings in Brazil, yes, I live in a paradise; I have an idyllic, perfect life. But if I compare my life with that of my neighbor–an Executive at Ford Motor Company–I may find defaults in my life and reasons to be dissatisfied and unhappy.

Therefore, yolove_vs_judgmentur life is perfect if you say it is. You are the master of your judgments. If you say you like something or you love something just the way it is, who can question that? Who can contradict it? Thus, “giving perfection” is the secret of living a life of joy.

In this article I am touching at the tip of the iceberg in the topic of depression. The insights provided here are meant as support for the diagnosis and treatment of depression, which are done by qualified professionals. The goal here has been to provide a set of insights coming from spirituality that can support the efforts of maintaining or regaining mental health. I would like to keep this dialogue open about depression. Like obesity and religionism, depression is a scourge that we will understand and overcome–as we live in joy.

I would like to conclude with a quote:

Dear friend! What would life be without hope? A spark that leaps from the coal and goes out; and as one hears a gust of wind in the dreary season that roars for an instant and then dies away – would it be so with us?” (Friedrich Hölderlin. Hyperion. iBooks. )

Paulo-Juarez Pereira
Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA
June 25, 2014 (while the World Cup continues)

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