According to this documentary film, there is absolutely no evidence to support the theory we have all come to believe that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance of the brain. It brings into question other so called 'mental illnesses' as well.
Yet depression can be a devastating experience. What does one do with a depressed state of mind? If it is not a chemical imbalance, what is it? How can it be treated?
I am coming to believe that depression may be an emotional addiction. It often comes when we encounter a painful life experience. Our minds want to avoid the suffering and we try to resist it. Or, it starts with one negative thought and develops into a chain reaction of feeling hopeless and down on ourselves. Then, we are told we are depressed and we start to believe it. We identify with a depressed mood and everything in our life begins to be based on the belief that there is something wrong with us. Are we having negative thoughts because we are depressed, or are we depressed because we are having negative thoughts?
What if....consider the possibility.....what if there is nothing wrong with you? If you really believe there is nothing wrong with you--how might you live your life differently? It is hard to be depressed when you are feeling great about yourself.
Mindfulness psychotherapy and cognitive therapy approach depression from a different perspective than the medical model of treatment. Emotions are considered a normal part of life and old patterns of viewing life through negative 'stories' and thought patterns are turned around. Learning to practice mindfulness in everyday life can help break the cycle of depression. It can be freeing to find we have everything we need to live a happy and full life exactly as we are.
Here is an excert from Thomas Moore's interview with SoundsTrue, www.soundstrue.com :
Thomas Moore: Depression can certainly debilitate a person; it can really cause a lot of pain and trouble. That does not mean that depression is not an expression of the soul. If we can imagine it as an expression of soul, find ways to weave it into our experience, it would not feel so overwhelming and alien. Friends from other countries have told me that they wonder why Americans are smiling all the time. It seems to be so superficial, the perpetual smile and laughter—even these little smiling faces people put on their letters and everywhere. In other countries, people seem to allow the depressive mood to be part of daily experience. They don't expect every day to be a happy day. I think it is in part a cultural issue, then, that depression is removed from our day-to-day values and treated like an illness.
Sounds True: You mentioned in the program that depression can give the “gift of weight” that a soul needs. Can you explain this idea?
Thomas Moore: Well, I get this idea from medieval and renaissance books on medicine, that draw from imagery based on the god Saturn to describe depression. Before modern medicine, it was accepted that Saturn, though he is a very difficult and challenging deity, has many gifts to offer. And one of these gifts is weight. All the planetary deities were associated with a metal: Venus with copper, Mercury with quicksilver; Saturn's metal was lead. These heavy feelings that come to us raw and undeveloped, can be refined and woven into daily experience. This is the “weight” that depression offers.