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Coping With Depression

Bhakti Tirtha Swami

Mental Illness on the Rise
In their 2001 World Health Report, the World Health Organization reported on the condition of mental health around the world, estimating that 450 million people on the planet have a mental or behavioral disorder. Furthermore, depression is now a leading cause of disability around the world, and, among the ten leading causes of the global burden of disease, it ranks fourth. The World Health Organization estimates that, in the next twenty years, depression will move up the list to become the second leading cause of disease. They also report that one million people commit suicide every year and between ten and twenty million make an attempt.
Considering these points, it is very important for us as spiritualists to understand mental illness so that we can help people who suffer from some of these problems. By understanding the effects of these mental disturbances on the consciousness, we will increase our effectiveness. This knowledge is a way that individuals with a higher level of consciousness can ***ist in many environments and bring in God consciousness. The spiritual warrior must protect the healthy and serve the wounded. In order to equip ourselves, we will examine mental illness and specifically depression from a psychological, physiological, and of course spiritual perspective.

Causes of Depression

Psychosomatic Diseases
Psychosomatic diseases distinctly develop from the mind, and, in certain instances, a person?s mind literally causes them to experience a disease or repress the symptoms of a particular type of sickness, even to the degree of paralysis. Psychoneuroimmunology is a medical and psychological science, which studies the influence of the mind on the body. What does this topic have to do with depression? Psychosomatic diseases illustrate the power of the mind and are important for us as we try to understand depression. Just by recognizing the process of thinking, feeling, and willing, we understand how thoughts lead to actions. If we repeatedly maintain certain thoughts in our minds, they will eventually turn into words and then actions.
Furthermore, when a person feels alienated or unloved, it affects the mind. More specifically, it activates the neurotransmitters, which then send messages throughout the whole body and consequently cause an attack on the cells and organs in our own bodies. Many diseases actually develop due to the mind?s frequent attacks on the cells and organs in the body. The mind has just that kind of power. Conversely, when a person feels cared for and loved, their physical and psychological immune system actually gets stronger. Love literally heals, protects, and gives longevity, and a lack of love literally kills.
Biological Factors
Some types of mental illness as well as depression actually have a biological origin or counterpart. There are many different types of ailments, diseases, or problems that can cause a mental disturbance. Sometimes a physical imbalance such as sugar diabetes or low blood sugar can lead to an imbalanced mental state. A lack of certain vitamins or nutrients can create problems, even a thyroid problem. Some studies suggest that many people in mental ins***utions actually have a biological problem.
The Dark Night of the Soul
Christian theology has a term called “the dark night of the soul” or a period of serious testing which applies to all serious spiritual seekers. At certain times during our spiritual progression, we may go through periods of rapid advancement and growth although we may find it hard to perceive the situation in this positive way. We might reach a point in our lives when we begin to think, “I am chanting; meditating; praying; fasting; reading the scriptures; visiting the temple, church, synagogue, or mosque; and following the spiritual laws and principles, but I am miserable! Where is God?” At this point, one even begins to seriously doubt Krishna’s mercy and attentiveness. Such a person might feel that even God has forsaken them.
Many times we fall into a state of depression because we have been acting in the right way and our level of consciousness has become more elevated, but we fail to understand the seemingly negative circumstances and challenges in our lives. However, the Supreme lets us burn up that karma so that we can move into another chapter. If you look back through your lives, you may even recall times when you have in fact experienced such a period and began to question God’s existence or His fairness. However, when you look back now, you realize the purpose of such events in your life because they have helped you to increase or elevate your consciousness. Often, the result of intense suffering is elevation in consciousness. Such suffering gives us the intensity to break through the last layers of mundane consciousness.
The Influence of Subtle En***ies
In some cases, different subtle en***ies actually affect the body. Some people’s thoughts, desires, and activities are so degraded and low that they invite or allow very negative and sinister en***ies to enter into their bodies and influence them to partake in extremely negative activities. Therefore, individuals who are not becoming more spiritual are gradually losing some of their freewill and their creative expression of consciousness. The bombardments of different types of influences and propaganda intrusion will have a greater affect on them. These increasing phenomena also can cause mental illness.
Women More Prone to Depression
Women usually suffer from depression more than men and have a greater susceptibility to fall into states of depression. One reason is that they usually have less control of their environments and tend to be more emotional. When a person has issues such as economic, political, social, or religious problems, it will affect them a little less if they have some control of the situation. However, when a person finds him or herself in the middle of a problem and must simply remain at the mercy of the situation, it causes so much more stress on the consciousness.
The World Health Organization reports that 20% of the world’s female population has been physically or sexually abused by a man at some time in their life. If a woman has repressed certain aspects of her past, these memories may begin to surface between her late thirties and forties which can lead to some disturbances in the mind or consciousness. A man may not understand the woman’s struggles during this period since some of her problems stem from issues of abuse during her childhood.
Misuse of Vedic and ancient cultures is another serious area that leads to problems and facilitates depression. A culture, which adheres to the idea that the man provides and dominates in a monarchial or autocratic arrangement, can become very destructive if the people abuse this philosophy. Instead of caretaking and facilitating the women, the men can create a completely opposite situation, which then leads to various types of abuse. When this happens, it of course produces great depression among the women. In many cases, the men just accept the arrangement as traditional culture without thinking deeply on the matter or feeling at fault.
From / / Hari-Nama Press