Paul Gilbert

Our moods and feelings are the basis for our quality of life; one can be happy in less than ideal circumstances and depressed in relatively benign ones. Many years ago, a suicidal, depressed man I was working with told of the terror of killing himself, going to heaven, but still being depressed (no escape). When we explored the idea of depression in heaven, we became aware that the 'if not recovered — why not' reasons reveal much about our cultural views of depression. In fact, for many centuries, different cultures have had a myriad of explanations for suffering (including depression) and its cure. Beliefs about causes include bad luck, life events and losses, poor childhood, consequences of past misdeeds (bad karma), the anger of God (sinner), a test of spirit, attachment and cravings, soul loss, social oppression, black bile, and, more recently, hormones and genes (Radden, 2000; Shweder et al., 1997). Depending on the meanings given to depression, different people have tried different things: changing one's luck, a variety of psychotherapies, working off bad karma, passing the spiritual tests, earning the love or forgiveness of God, communing with dead ancestors, seeking release from oppression, light therapy, exercise, various diets, bodily cleansings, herbs, pills, potions, and alcohol. A recent American community-based study found that, of those with 'self-diagnosed' depression and anxiety, 53.6% with severe depression and 56.7% with anxiety reported using complementary medicine and alternative therapies to treat their conditions (Kessler et al., 2001).

Although depression has been recognised as a common disorder for over 2000 years, with many sharp and insightful descriptions (Radden, 2000), unlike some more recently discovered illnesses and infections, consensus about its cause and treatment is tenuous. There remains doubt about its physiology and whether (or which type of) depression can be construed as a defect/error, a normal reaction to abnormal circumstances, or the extreme of a normally distributed variation in defensive strategies. Nonetheless, modern Western views, while perhaps less prosaic than many of the cultural variations, are still multifactorial. For some peoples and social groups, life is so harsh that depression may be a common

Mood Disorders: A Handbook of Science and Practice. Edited by M. Power. © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. ISBN 0-470-84390-X.

experience of life. For others, thinking styles, early schema, and coping behaviours can drive depression even for people whose environments are not so bad. For yet others, there are genetic sensitivities to some types of depression. And for all those who are depressed, modulation of the affect systems that have evolved over millions of years is key to the puzzle of depression. The biopsychosocial approach focuses on the interactions between processes, and, as Akiskal and McKinney (1975) pointed out many years ago, depression is a final common pathway of many different processes. To be depressed in heaven (if it exists of course), you would have to retain an evolved mind, built like other primate minds that could construe and feel in certain ways.

Letting Go, Moving On

Letting Go, Moving On

Learning About Letting Go, Moving On Can Have Amazing Benefits For Your Life And Success! Don't be held back by the past - face your guilt and fears and move on! Letting go is merely arriving at a decision, no more allowing something from the past tense to influence your life today or to cut down your inner sense of peace and welfare.

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