There is plenty of evidence that shows how anxiety and depression rates worldwide are on the increase. Despite antidepressants and therapy, the stress that the population of Earth experiences continues to grow.
Maybe depression and anxiety are healthy responses to an unhealthy society? Perhaps, people and their minds aren’t the problem – maybe it’s a normal, healthy reponse to an unhealthy culture – crowds, taxes, increased overtime in the office, terrorism, constant competition for jobs, lack of money and resources, corruption, poverty, too few with too much…the list goes on when it comes to identifying all that is wrong and unnatural about modern day life.
We are constantly being programmed to be something that we aren’t – school encourages us to tow the line, behave and conform and not behave in many ways that are natural to human beings. We are becoming more isolated from one another as resources become scarcer…it all paints a grim picture.
Key facts about the increase in anxiety and depression worldwide
- Depression is a common mental disorder. Globally, more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression.
- Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease.
- The burden of depression and other mental health conditions is on the rise globally. A World Health Assembly resolution passed in May 2013 has called for a comprehensive, coordinated response to mental disorders at country level.
Contributing factors and prevention
Depression results from a complex interaction of social, psychological and biological factors. People who have gone through adverse life events (unemployment, bereavement, psychological trauma) are more likely to develop depression. Depression can, in turn, lead to more stress and dysfunction and worsen the affected person’s life situation and depression itself.
• The number of cases dealing with employee depression increased 58 percent between 2012 and 2014.
• The number of cases dealing with employee anxiety increased 74 percent.
• The number of cases dealing with employee stress increased 28 percent.
• Combined, employee depression, stress and anxiety accounted for 55.2 percent of all emotional health cases in 2012 compared to 82.6 percent in 2014.
These numbers reflect two significant trends that impact businesses across the world. More and more employees are obviously struggling with very serious emotional health issues like depression, stress and anxiety. And at the same time, those struggling seem more willing to reach out for help.
Perhaps if we took a long hard look at how we push people to work for very little money and we really began to study the structure of society and made a concerted effort to build societies that mimic the society of our ancestors (where there was more support and cooperation amongst groups), we may begin to ease the worldwide burden of mental health problems. This is no small underaking by any means but if we don’t begin to find ways to nurture people and promote collaboration, we will be heading for a major mental health crisis worldwide.
Everyone is tired and complains that there is never enough time in the day to achieve everything. Months go by before we connect face-to-face with friends because we are so busy. We are stuck on a hamster wheel that is speeding up, the momentum is taking over and people are finding it harder to make healthy changes and slow down the inevitable progress. When will it all stop? People physically canot cope with this sort on onslaught – hence the high levels of mental health issues. If only we could all stop and look at the bigger picture.
The small things you can do:
Maintain a work/life balance
Don’t get caught up in the societal drive to “be more, have more, do more” – it’s a farce!
Enjoy quiet time where you are just ‘being’ and not ‘doing’
Know your priorities – connecting with others and experiences (such as holidays) have shown consistently to provide more happiness than possessions and achievements.
Spend time with family and friends as much as possible.
For perspective, remember that when you are in your old age home one day, you will have photos of friends/family/pets, not photos of your Degree certificates, houses and cars. Never forget what’s important.
Think for yourself – what makes you truly happy? Be careful not to mix up your own ambitions with the ambitions of what those around you want for you – two very different things.
What we think will make us happy (money, status, power etc) and what actually will make us happy are often not the same thing.
Don’t be afraid to be a non-conformist. It’s your life – your choices.