Is Depression Really As Common As We Think?

Is depression really as common as we think? Or is it mostly socially constructed right now to serve those who are all struggling with similar economic, financial, occupational, spiritual, or whatever have you, life crisis’s?

It is a question some might be offended that I ask but it needs to be addressed. The word has been thrown around for a decade now. Laura Pratt stated “eleven percent of Americans aged 12 years and over take antidepressant medication (Pratt, 2011).” That was in 2011, can you imagine the number now? Do all these people really need medication for a physiological imbalance?

Some may argue depression is strictly environmental and psychological. They may say it has no physiological component, but I have to disagree. At Fudan University in China, researchers conducted a study on depression using MRI imaging on patients, and discovered the orbitofrontal cortex reacted differently when it came with reward mechanisms of normal patients (Sandle, 2016). When a person is not given a reward, this reacts, but in those with depression it seems this is a constant reacting mechanism, even in situations where it is not appropriate. “Specifically, activity in the lateral orbitofrontal cortex is found when subjects reach expectations about punishment and social reprisal (Sandle, 2016).” The area appears to be physically changed. Can psychological states change physicality? Or do physiological states induce psychological stresses?

I personally believe the answer is both. This is why depression is so difficult to treat. In a patient experiencing depression with little stress in life, having a genetic history, an inability to really explain why they are depressed, are all signs a closer look should be given. MRI imaging will hopefully pave the way to distinguish between types of depression. Those who have a physiological issue, might need medication and therapy. Those with a sort of socially constructed depression could benefit from just going to a psychologist, practicing good eating habits, exercising, and/or meditation.

If whatever gives us rewards, let us say, self assurance as well is essentially damaged, is there a way to reconstruct the pathways? If medication improves some, then it proves to be possible. If therapy helps, it proves to be possible. Some are living testimonies of this and credit research and doctors with saving their life from potential suicide. I believe each person’s brain has experienced stress at different stages of development, therefore pathways are constructed uniquely and need a detailed response. In order to find a solution I believe a person needs to first ask themselves why all the sadness? Has it always been there in the background since childhood? Or has it come on recently? When and what was going on during that period of time when symptoms started? What stage of development was hindered?

I have a theory that when people are young, their developing brains can only handle so much stress. Stress has a physical component and a psychological. I believe the brain is capable of whatever it has the capacity to accomplish under stress. You ever see the children who can play Bach at age ten? They usually had support at home, lessons, could focus, and had little stress at home. Children who are raised around stress, in impoverished conditions are less likely to access certain experiences in society due to the cost of them. They suffer physical and psychological stress at a young age. This could have a more lasting impact I would say on this child, rather than an adult who suffers little trauma in childhood and is experiencing depression. Gabor Mate stated:

“CT scan studies at the University of Wisconsin showed that brain centers responsible   for academic performance were up to 10 percent smaller in children who grew up in the poorest homes. Why? Because the human brain itself is a social organ, shaped in its neurophysiological and neurochemical development by the child’s relationships (Mate, 2015).”

If CT scans are showing differences in brain structure in those with better academic performances, then stress on development is crucial  to understand for ensuring a productive society. And also, maybe less cases of depression are caused by an irreversible physiological change which could give hope to those who need less invasive treatments. This could reserve medication for those who really do need it.

Erik Erikson, a pioneer in the field of psychology believes in eight stages of development, and “during each stage, the person experiences a psychosocial crisis which could have a positive or negative outcome for personality development (McLeod, 2008).” Unlike Freud, Erikson’s attention was focused upon social constructs, culture, and environmental factors affecting the ego. Freud emphasized more on a conflict arising between the id (primitive part of the brain) and the super ego which has more to do with adapting a moral conscience. This raises the question in most minds, who is right? I personally feel the answer depends on the patient. I believe Erikson’s crisis seems to come from crucial stages of development in youth, deep-rooted in memories, senses, our physical neurological pathways thus causing physiological changes. I believe Freud’s crisis is rooted in the later development stages, comes on because of social constructs revolving around morals and defining self worth in relation to them. Thus, medication will not treat this sort of existential crisis. Human (therapist) and animal companionship have shown to improve these types of depression. Exercise, healthy eating habits, healthy sleeping schedules, cognitive behavioral therapy, meditation, and establishing goals might be a solution.

In the future, I hope medical imaging technology combined with doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, and neuroscientists can all work together to provide the correct treat option for those suffering with depression or any mental illness. Compared to one hundred years ago, there is vast knowledge about the human brain and I am intrigued to see where research takes us.


Works Cited


Sandle, T. (2016, December 11). Physical source of depression identified. Retrieved January 06, 2017, from

Mate, Gabor. Posted Nov 16, 2015, G. (2015, November 16). Gabor Maté: How to Build a Culture of Good Health. Retrieved January 06, 2017, from

Should Have Been Athena

I don’t even know what’s reality anymore

Say something to me

I dare you

Because I’m down on the floor

I dropped my shield

and like Apollo you rose

you played your guitar

but little did I know

your splendor was a facade

your heart was so cold

marked by the God Ares

And ready to charge like a boar

Your spear in your hand…

looking up at Mars, craving more…


I came to you like Aphrodite

When I should have been Athena

I came to you as the goddess of love

When I should have prepared for the arena…


I don’t even know what’s reality anymore

Say something to me

I dare you

Because I’m already on the floor

But I grab my spear

because you always seem ready for more

I battle you day and night

to settle the score

Then I rise like Athena

Fully armored with a crested helm

Striking you down

Becoming fully in charge of my realm

And even when you fell on your knees

I still showed you the greatest of empathy…

even after you broke me down

stole what was left of me….


I came to you like Aphrodite

When I should have been Athena

I came to you as the goddess of love

When I should have prepared for the arena…

The Dimensions/Part 2

She wakes up to him tugging upon her sleeve.

“Mommy! Mommy! I have to go to school soon. Where’s my lunch?”

“I…I…” She panics…”I think I it’s in the fridge, hold on.”

Sure enough it is. She doesn’t remember ever packing it though. She doesn’t even know his name yet. She thinks, what’s my name?

So many thoughts racing, their almost uncontrollable. He’s staring at her, as if he knows something is different about her. Children always know when things are off. It is as if intuition is at its peak at those ages.

He runs out the door, barely making the bus.

Now, time for some investigation. She runs upstairs, trying to find anything with a name on it. She has to know who she is, who they are, where she is, in order to answer questions later. Nothing makes sense and she is overwhelmed with only an afternoon to figure this out it seems.

She finds something. A filing cabinet of some fancy kind. After some ravaging she was able to find birth certificates. Apparently her name is Margaret, her son is Alvin, and her husband is Edward.

Really, Alvin? She thinks. Poor kid.

She is 32 years old, Edward is 34, and Alvin is 9. None of this makes sense to her. She feels she was older, but she can’t remember how old. Everything seems to be getting more difficult to remember from her previous life. Tears roll down her face. Jack, her real son, is no longer visible in her mind. She pretends to hug the floor as if it’s him but this only results in a prolonged anxiety spell. She knows this will solve nothing. She must figure out how to get back home and not forget everyone.

She reads on, finding out more and more about the family. Looking at photographs, drawings, mailings, anything she can use to gain information. It becomes less and less painful as she continues.

The door slams.

“Hunny!” Edward says.

“Yes, dear, I am in here.” Says Margaret.

“Did you make supper?”

She panics. “I’m so sorry. I failed to get anything done today.”

“Are you okay?” Edward asks.

“Yes, I’m fine. Just maybe a little bit of a flu coming on.”

“Okay, well, I guess me and the boy will go out to dinner. I’ll bring you something back my love. Please get some rest and be yourself again. I sure do miss your cooking.”

“I will. Thank you dear.”She says.

Finally, she’s alone again. Now, time to learn some recipes. The cookbook is extensive. Covered in flour and definitely used every day. She cannot imagine a woman cooking every single day but she gives it a chance. She picks something easy for tomorrow evening and hopes for the best.

Edward awakens her. “You fell asleep with the recipe book. How adorable.”

“Well, I wanted to make sure I was prepared for tomorrow.”

She sits with him, eats her dinner quietly, letting him talk about his day at work, who he had seen in town, and what new shoes he desires. She gathers more information and finds herself becoming intrigued the more he speaks. She starts to think hey this may not be that bad after all. His handsome, chiseled face radiates authenticity. Then she starts thinking of her own family again. Guilt rolls in. He kisses her. She feels his lips tug softly on hers then pull away even more gently. It was like nothing she felt before. So innocent. Her heart becomes weak as she looks in his eyes and she starts to feel as if she belongs here.

He holds her all night. Carefully caressing her body, memorizing every inch of her skin, so he can remember it forever. She does the same, barely sleeping all night.

Being Honest…

I just want to go back there. Go back where it smelled like corn and grass and fresh air. I want to feel my hands in the dirt and know I belong right there, with nothing but a tool and the earth. It is all I ever needed really.  All I ever needed was to become one with the land. I did not need this education, this annihilation of my true self to survive. All I needed was a mentor. Or to take the time to become my own mentor. Somehow I lost sight of my own objectives in life. I tried to pursue something big, perhaps to impress people around me more than myself. I just want to be accepted, to be loved, to be thought of as intelligent and beautiful. Not just a face. I wanted to have it all but what I didn’t realize is I already did have it all. I just wouldn’t allow myself to give myself credit for anything. I had this mentality that nothing I did was good enough.

And I notice this in myself and other people. I notice this social occurrence where people keep beating themselves and others down to achieve greatness. It is trying to think of how much energy is wasted on this mentality. All the energy could be used to be productive if people were respectful of other peoples talents.

Let’s be realistic. Not everyone is meant for college but some are. Some should go to trade school. Some should start a business or a farm. Either way, people should be able to choose what they want without this intrusion of free will. In my opinion, people have adopted this go to college and get a job ideology. It is unhealthy to push someone into something which is not for them. Period. We do not need more student debt but we need more welders and skilled workers more than ever in this country. We don’t need a hundreds of thousands of people with a Bachelors degree and no job. In this push to push the next generation forward with education, a lot of parents have created a nightmare. Their children just want to impress them, rather than be happy. They end up misdirected, depressed, unemployed, or having to move away from the family structure for any opportunity.

What happened to the family structure in America? What happened to the I have your back mentality? I feel as if it was more dominant in this country in the past. The wealth was more distributed when American families stuck together. Is there a connection here? I am not sure. However, I am sure if a family sticks together and either passes down a trade or supplies the funds for an education there is little struggle usually. Divorces shouldn’t be done so often in this country. People need to learn how to mend what is broken rather than running away from it. We need to be not so hard on each other, and practice a gentle hand.

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The Pilot with a Mental Illness

Did you hear about the pilot who drove the plane right into the mountains? Well, if you haven’t I don’t know where you have been. The minute I heard of this event I immediately felt something was terribly wrong mentally with this man. It makes no sense a plane is above 30,000 feet then falls dramatically to 100ft before hitting a wing and colliding into the terrain.  It had to be the pilot or a serious issue with the plane.

The black box and a passenger recording has exposed the truth. The man locked himself inside and immediately set the plane into a rapid decent. It must have been insane. The other pilot was trying to break down the door with no luck, pleading with the man to stop, but later on growing angry.

How did it get to this point though? How did a man become so sad he felt like the only way to end his life was to take a plane down? Why did he feel it necessary to bring down 150 people with him he didn’t even know instead of just simply hanging himself? Was he full of hate? Or did he feel so alone he felt like the only way out was to die with a bunch of people? Did he feel he had no purpose so he had to make his mark in history with a tragedy rather than an accomplishment? Did he stop his medications? Did his wife ask for a divorce? What happened to bring this man’s mind to this state?

All of these questions are important. Not because they are related to a tragedy but because they address a broader issue going on with people: mental illness. I am not excusing this man from what he has done, it is horrific, but in order to help prevent this from reoccurring we must understand it. We must ask uncomfortable questions and try to get inside how a person like this thinks so we can help. To ignore them is to turn a eye to a person being mugged. Their illness is REAL. It can start off small then lock onto the core of society until eventually we have an epidemic that could have been avoided.

It amazes me this man went to a doctor it seems, was diagnosed with something, but continued to work. How was he allowed to work? Did he hide his condition for years on end? Or did he not hide it and when he told someone they reacted with a typical “everyone feels sad sometimes” response?

Depression isn’t sadness. It is more than that. It takes out your soul and smashes it unto the ground until you lie there motionless, wishing you had a purpose.  There are no words really to describe it, only emotions sometimes. A person at times knows how silly they are for feeling that way, yet cannot shake it. There is something preventing it from being broken. The cycle continues until the person survives or does not. And survival could mean, never being the person you once was and accepting that. But it takes a lot of strength to get through it. It sometimes takes support from others. Perhaps, the pilot brushed his teeth, ran through the park, went to work, and at times still cried. And after years of hiding the tears, he snapped. Were there no signs? Was he that good at hiding it? I think it was a combination of people in general not understanding mental illness and also people feeling ashamed to admit their condition. Mental evaluations for high stress jobs should be mandatory though an there needs to be more social workers utilized. We cannot live in a social media based society without addressing the issues we create when we put unrealistic expectations on human beings. There are not enough centers for those who are mentally ill, not enough funding, psychologists, social workers, etc…Sometimes the mentally ill are left homeless or incarcerated or they end up flying a plane into a mountain. Whatever it is, it isn’t okay.

If medications help some people, then more research needs to be done on specific elements in combination to certain conditions. Right now it is too broad. You have bipolar patients on the same medication as depressed and/or anxiety patients. C’mon. And if meds do not help some people, more funding to alternate therapies as well. Either way, we must try to prevent innocent people from being hurt by those who were hurting but did not tell anyone. We must lift the stigma off the mentally ill and admit sometimes it isn’t their fault. As a society we cannot let it be suppressed because it only leads to tragedy. Let’s not blame anyone or anything specific but rather fix the problems at hand. My heart goes out to all those who perished.

Just Some Thoughts….Just Some Feelings…

Without writers, you would have to memorize their thoughts as well as your own then somehow build upon it. Everything would have to be a conversation which no offense to people, wouldn’t always be beneficial. Have you ever had a conversation you wish could end almost right where it began? We all have. Well, imagine that happening everyday. Imagine there are no books, no history, nothing to build upon from the day you were born but you own thoughts. Wouldn’t it be insane? Would we all just stomp around and grunt like savages unable to communicate? Most likely. Maybe we would adapt and resort to sign language. Either way, I don’t really want to find out.

One thing is for sure now though, things are ever-changing with technology. People have been recording their perceptions and emotions for a long time through writing but now the audience is much larger due to technology. Information is not obtained through the local library anymore but rather a bunch of iffy sources you must weed through for the concrete source. There is an abundance of information. So much, it is almost overwhelming that a person can just look up a word or phrase and find out almost everything about it. It is beautiful as well as frightening. It can be frightening depending upon where you are in the world, who is in power, and what social impact you can have upon people around you with the information you obtained. As a consequence, those who speak from a concrete source against a general dominate opinion suffer at times. Think of all the artists right now being jailed or killed for free speech. Journalists are being hacked to death, jailed, and/or silenced. But what do we forget? You cannot silence a writer without taking all of his writing. You can take their life but if you don’t  have his/her hard drive or journal then good luck. You can kill a writer but their thoughts still transpire.

Sometimes I think to myself, “I cannot wait someday when those who lose power realize they have condemned their own future by silencing free speech.” It is sad in a sense but not surprising. People will think and feel the way they want to. If the general population in your country feels a certain way then odds are it is for a reason. You cannot blame social uprising on writers and/or the abundance of information out there, it has happened for thousands of years without it. Greed is usually the culprit of social uprising, not the words crafted against it. Rest in peace to those who died for unjust reasons, trying to protect our rights, whether it be the honest soldier, journalist, hard worker, or student. You are the people who keep the momentum going rather than stopping it.