Monday, November 30, 2015

Depression and Despair Growing in the US


                                              From The Ramparts
                                             Junious Ricardo Stanton
                                   Depression and Despair in The US Is Growing

            "Americans are more depressed now than they have been in decades, a recent study has found. San Diego State University (SDSU) psychology professor Jean M. Twenge analyzed data from nearly 7 million adolescents and adults from across the country and found that more people reported symptoms of depression — including sleeplessness and trouble concentrating — compared to the 1980s.Twenge’s findings show that teenagers in the 2010s experience memory trouble 38 percent more often than their 1980s counterparts. Teens are also 74 percent more likely to have trouble sleeping and twice as likely to see a professional for mental health issues. College students in the study reported feeling overwhelmed by academic and personal demands 50 percent more often than their 1980s counterparts." 21 Signs That Americans Are the Unhappiest People on The Planet

            As we move into the "holiday season" it is alarming and sad to learn that more Americans are on anti-depressant psychotropic medication than ever before, that suicides in the US are at an all time high and reports indicate Americans of all demographic groups admit they are extremely unhappy and depressed. In a society that is  as highly advanced technologically as America is, that is extremely materialistic that has all the superficial trappings of prosperity, the question remains, why are Americans so unhappy, why is this country so depressed?
            America is depressed for many reasons. For an explanation and a summery of the various causes go to: to see a thoughtful list of reasons why the US is experiencing this phenomenon of unhappiness and depression. The  writer, Mike  Bundrant, offers several cogent reasons why Americans are  suffering from physical, mental and emotional maladies. Each one is valid in and of itself, but taken in total and looked at from a holistic perspective these reasons and causes provide an insightful look into the counterproductive values and maladaptive lifestyles we lead.
            From these and others we can conclude that there are numerous forces both external (outside of ourselves) and internal (inside of ourselves) working to undermine our total well being. In essence, we are miserable because we have been taught and conditioned to seek happiness and satisfaction outside of ourselves. We are outer directed instead of focusing on the inner realms of our being: our mind, emotions and soul. We are unhappy because we acquiesce to the messages and programming of the media and authority figures who molded and controlled us when we were young and this control continued into adulthood. We have been brainwashed to believe our worth is based upon accumulating and owning things. By seeking status in our possessions, we erroneously think our social position is dependent on our ability to have stuff and mold ourselves into the notions and models Madison Avenue tells us make us somebody/something.
            When you look at what Mike Bundrant says in his article you can see why we are out of balance and operating in ways that prevent us from living in harmony with ourselves, the environment and others. We do not have to continue to kill our spirits, live in depression, go through life mired in a sense of emptiness and alienation.  If for example we know that there are toxins in the foods that undermine our health stop eating those foods! If we know getting out in nature walking barefoot on the ground or on a beach making contact with the earth and water, breathing fresh air are beneficial to us, we can do more of these things. Our total wellbeing is our responsibility we cannot afford not to take it personally, make it a top priority in our lives or turn it over to someone else no matter how much education they have.
             We have agency we have intrinsic power, we have the ability to alter our psychological, emotional, mental and physical being, to go from depressed to a life of fulfillment and happiness.   We have to move past the pattern of learned hopelessness and helplessness to a position of empowerment! We have to move from being mindless automatons and zombies (it's no coincidence a major theme on television, movies and video games is zombies). The writer of the article Eight Reasons Depression Why Depression Is So Common Today mentions Edward Bernays the mastermind behind American "public relations"; Bernays euphemism for mind control. Edward Bernays was a nephew of Sigmund Freud. Bernays was an influential figure in American business and is credited with the development of  mass psychological manipulation.  He developed a whole regime of tricking and inducing Americans to do things that weren't necessarily in their best interests such a smoking cigarettes and eating heavier breakfasts that enriched his clients and himself! "Bernays was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1891 but grew up in New York City. His mother was Freud's sister and his father was the brother of Freud's wife, Martha Bernays. He maintained contact with his uncle, and the family often joined Freud for summer holidays in the Alps. Bernays began his career shaping public opinion by creating a media campaign to raise awareness of venereal disease and sexual hypocrisy. But his application of psychoanalytic principles to public relations and advertising came only after reading Freud's 'General Introductory Lectures,' a gift from Freud to his nephew in thanks for a box of Havana cigars. In this case, a cigar did prove to be much more than a cigar. The marriage of psychoanalysis and public relations, facilitated by the box of Havanas, made Bernays a very wealthy man.Intrigued by Freud's notion that irrational forces drive human behavior, Bernays sought to harness those forces to sell products for his clients. In his 1928 book, 'Propaganda,' Bernays hypothesized that by understanding the group mind, it would be possible to manipulate people's behavior without their even realizing it. To test this hypothesis, Bernays launched one of his most famous public relations campaigns: convincing women to smoke." Psychoanalysis Shapes Consumer Culture by Lisa Held
            Much of our depression and misery are because we are being nefariously manipulated. Corporations use psychologists to design advertising campaigns to play on our emotions, exploit our sense of inadequacy and our longing for happiness. Of course this manipulation exacerbates our inadequacies, insecurities and sense of alienation which impacts our psychological health because it creates frustration, anger and a sense of emptiness which over time can morph into depression. We are being unconsciously manipulated and exploited and over time this manipulation can lead to frustration and if it remains pent up within us it eventually leads to psychological and often physical implosion: illness, depression and psychotic episodes.
            Add the readiness of doctors to prescribe anti-depression medications at the drop of a hat to this scenario and we can see why this country is so zonked out. Anti-depression medication is not necessarily a cure all. We need to keep in mind they have side effects and you should be aware of these before you make medication your first and only option. "Antidepressants can make people feel better, but they won't change their personality or make them feel happy all the time. Like taking any other medication, some people will experience some side effects. Common side effects, depending on which medication is taken, include nausea, headaches, anxiety, sweating, dizziness, agitation, weight gain, dry mouth and sexual difficulties (e.g. difficulty becoming/staying aroused). Some of these symptoms can be short-lived, but people who experience any of these symptoms should tell their doctor, as there are ways of minimizing them. The likelihood of a particular side effect happening varies between individuals and medications." Medical Treatments for Depression
            The main thing to remember is we have agency, we have the ability to and can choose how we respond to and navigate life's ups and downs. We have the ability to frame our experiences. A flat tire is not a catastrophe it is an inconvenience so view like that instead of a punishment from your idea of god. Maybe getting laid off from the job you hated was a good thing, it will allow you to develop other skills and capacities to earn a living, feel fulfilled and on purpose. Get on with your life.
             We can move beyond learned helplessness and hopelessness to being empowered and self-actualizing beings taking control of our lives! We can choose which regimen we use to feel better, we don't have to go for the okey-doke of prescription drugs nor do we have to set our lives by Madison Avenue's or anyone else's clock.
            As we are bombarded by advertisements and messages to prompt us to buy and spend, remember this is psychological manipulation! You have the power to resist this manipulation,  to live your life on your own terms and not be a pawn of the advertisers and retail industries! Happiness is not based on how big your bank account is. Real happiness comes from loving yourself, being fully engaged in the life process, serving and being a blessing to others.




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