People seem lonely and depressed even more so than in past times. Can science help us understand why?
Depression has always been a melancholy friend, but it didn’t seem to take as much precedent then as it does today. Loneliness and depression seem to be in every household now, leading to feelings of hopelessness and even attempts of suicide. So, why is it so much worse than before?
Science explains why we’re lonelier than before
Science has answers for many things, even why we’re more depressed and lonely now than we’ve ever been before, and we are. There are more mental health clinics and hospitals opening than before and more people constantly seeking happiness outside themselves.
Yes, science has reasons for this modern increase in loneliness and feelings of depression, and it’s interesting, to say the least.
Here are a few reasons for this increase:
1. It’s a psychological/forced diagnosis
This might sound a bit strange, but it’s true. Many individuals suffer from depression or loneliness so much more now than before just because they’re diagnosed that way. Yes, diagnosing depression is important, but misdiagnosis of this disorder can actually cause the disorder to worsen, and grow in huge proportions.
In modern times, it seems everyone thinks they’re depressed, and so clinics are prone to call problems depression before anything else, handing out medications and convincing people they are suffering from a problem before a diagnosis. Just pay attention to how many of your friends say they’re depressed on a regular basis.
2. Avoiding nature
Nature has this ability to lift the spirits in the most amazing ways. The breeze, the chirps of insects, and the earth itself all improve mental health. Many believe that just placing your bare feet upon the earth at least once a day improves your health and mood – it’s called grounding. Greenery in itself has amazing impacts on mental health, and without it, the decline is pretty obvious.
But it’s different now. People seem more lonely and in the throws of depression because they don’t go outside as much as they used to. Most of the time, electronics and technology take first place over going outside to enjoy the weather. I fear it will only get worse if we don’t wake up and notice the direction our lives are going.
3. Lack of physical activity
Just like most people avoid going outside, they seem to also be avoiding any sort of physical activity too. It’s so much easier to do things without moving around. There is a decrease in hiking, camping, and fishing now, replaced by indoor activities like watching movies and playing video games.
Our brains are actually changing so that we prefer these indoor activities and feel more comfortable doing these things. And this is making us more lonely and more depressed as time goes by considering our physical and mental states are connected.
In my early adulthood, materialism seemed normal. As long as I stayed on top of the latest trends and managed to look attractive, I felt okay. But as soon as finances or other circumstances hindered my ability to buy things, I started feeling restless and unhappy. If it lasted long enough, I would fall into a slump.
This sort of pattern has gotten worse. Materialism has become an addiction for almost everyone, and if you can’t afford to keep up, you may find yourself stricken with loneliness and depression.
The reason why we’re depressed is that we’ve grown used to acquiring more and more with no end in sight. If we really took the time to realize that these things are only temporal, useless after death, then maybe we would slow down and enjoy something else for a change. Happiness, trust me, is not found in material possessions.
5. Stuck in misery
Many people in our society today are stuck in their own misery. This is usually depression that comes from past trauma. Yes, mental illness is a real disease and must be treated as so, but we cannot keep choosing to remain in depression and loneliness out of familiarity.
It seems as though depression is easier than feeling happy to those who may have lived in a dysfunctional family in the past. It even seems normal to be unhappy and in constant turmoil.
Depression and loneliness, in a way, seem warm and inviting. They’re like old grumpy grandparents who come to sit with us and complain about all their aches and pains. Think about it for a moment. If it’s so easy to be depressed and you’re handling it okay, then why even try to be happy. Unfortunately, so many people today fall into this category.
6. Bad food
As you already know, fresh and organic foods are good for you, both physically and mentally. This means processed foods and fast foods have the opposite effect. It has been proven that fast foods, especially commercially baked foods, hamburgers, and hotdogs can cause an increase in depression.
Feeling lonely and a bit depressed? Well, it could be the food you’re eating. Now, as far as humans being more depressed than in decades before, well, that’s because fast foods, processed foods, and food additives have increased greatly, running a race with those who are trying to bring healthier products to the market. Health foods are still behind in that race, unfortunately.
Are you lonely and depressed?
I know I feel lonely and horribly depressed much of the time. And yes, it is because of these reasons above and other things too. My parents, although they fought and argued quite a bit, didn’t seem to be as lonely and depressed as us children are. And our grandparents, as far as I can remember, were even happier.
So, in my opinion, yes, we are more lonely than generations before, and we’re definitely filling the clinics with cases of mental illness.
Something must be done about this tragedy. What do you think about these changes?
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This Post Has 14 Comments
A lot of obstacles have been taken away from the struggle s of life like mobile phones computers etc these have made life to easy plus,it’s closed a lot of doors factories, shops businesses were as before direct human communication was needed machines do not have empathy or human emotions which makes us as a species. I have seen a lot lonely people esp in the older pensioners were always happy to see you when you turned up at the door ok it’s not only pensioners but after stating the above it tells you machines are not answer if anything they will be our downfall look at it in another way do any of you grown plants tand have to transplant them to larger pots well have you noticed the roots are closely clumped together well I did,an experiment once I loosened the roots so they were not closely clumped together they were quite loose I transplanted this plant in a larger pot the plant with roots,clumped closely together was just transplanted to a larger pot and carefully watered both equally and feed when required. The plant with the clumped roots grew slowly and cautiously and I wondered why the leaves remained abundant and the same as before, now to the plant with loosened root this grew sprending sparsely and quickly but there was less foliage not as strong as the other plant that got me thinking the closely packed roots are more of a close knit unit which are stronger I’m no psychologist but that to me can also be applied to a community of people if the closeness is there they become stronger. Machines laptops mobile phones robots have taken that away were as man woman would work in factories together as a unit group family if you like. Businesses will argue it saving them money buts it does not in the long run as it has a knock on effect
You know what? I miss the 80s. I grew up with much less technology and a lot more running around and climbing trees. I was mostly an odd little thing, but the friends I did have were around more often. Meaning I didn’t have to facebook them or whatever. There were family get-togethers, Sunday dinners, cousins coming for a visit, and uncles bringing gifts for us children. I remember riding my bike a lot too. You know, I haven’t ridden my bike in over a year now, and this saddens me.
I am a gardener, I have a lemon tree growing in this pot in my kitchen, but it hasn’t grown any bigger in a year either. Maybe when I transplant it, I will leave the roots as they are without any coaxing apart. I know my plant needs space, but maybe I can learn something new today.
Thank you for reading.
People are not exercising!!!!!!
Too much work !!!!!
Not enuff physical activity!!!
Exercise the crazy off !!!
I agree. Physical fitness is one of the most important aspects of warding off depression. It really does help.
Everyone seems very occupied, even if you want to go out and smell some fresh air you’ll find yourself alone, and when the other want to do it with you, you’ll find yourself already occupied and not in the mood for it, so it’s not easy to find a match maybe in cyper world leading to dragging away from reality even more, and again when you’re up to listen and rate the quality of your life you will feel more lonely
I believe being able to be connected with others through social platform in that massive way happening today took a lot of our time we only have limited hours to live rather than take the most of it for ourselves and real beloved ones we devote much of it to those we are following in social networks, tv…
I feel what you’re saying deep in my core. I try sometimes to get my family out and about without their devices, but it’s hard to do. So, Sometimes, I just go out alone and try to enjoy it all by myself. If they won’t go, then we go. We have to take care of ourselves and make sure we are spending enough time away from the screens and buttons. One day, we shall die, and on our death beds, are we still going to be posting on social media about how much pain we’re in, or are we going to be reflecting on life, talking with loved ones who are there with us, and utilizing our last breath for peace?
When my cousin died, rest his soul, he posted up until the end. I witnessed his pain every day on social media. It was heartbreaking. Maybe being able to do this helped him, but maybe it was only a distraction. I guess I shall never know.
The article is very interesting in its depth of research and addresses many pertinent points of our modern life. A life of solitude devoted to the modern telephone and personal computer that limits to an extreme our social intercourse are the biggest culprits but they are manageable since we CAN control the extent of their usage. I mean it blows my mind that teenagers sit in car with their eyes glued to the screen, they step out with their eyes still glued & walk with their eyes glued…. which simply means their minds hardly work on being creative.
Oh yes, the world has changed so much. Here I am now, writing on a screen about how much technology has changed us. But hey, I do go outside and tend a garden, take walks and enjoy the late summer breeze…and this helps. I tend to have better conversations with those who are older than me as well because they still appreciate face to face conversations. My family (husband, children) are practically glued to a screen most of the time…well, one son is not as bad as the others…anyway. When we go out to eat, I ask that they put down their phones for once and have a nice meal without sticky fingers grasping smart phones. We also meet at our dining room table to give thanks in our spiritual life which takes us away from technology a bit. I am still working on getting them out for a fishing trip or camping, but so far, that’s a bit too much for these technology creatures.
With these things being said, I do believe this does have a part in depression. Too much technology can take us away from the very things which improve our mental health like nature, reading books or even painting. If all of the technology were to fail, what would we have left? I tell you, I would have my lantern lit, reading a book or painting. I would have a little hard time without technology because of this place and my freelance work, but life would go on, and honestly, I would work a little more on selling my jellies and jams.
Thank you Sherrie for replying at length. Your article reminded me of a reporter on the streets of Mountain View, CA, some 33 years ago, asking me about what I thought of the “modern portable telephone”. My answer, then, paraphrasing, was “It’ll bring the downfall of social physical intercourse”. Of course humans are as much as Sphinxes rising from the ashes & we pretty much survive everything since everything we cause or is caused to us is included in the word “evolution”.
You’re forgetting about the folks who have no family, or is fighting with family, and have no one to turn to. You have a “President” spreading hateful messages, that’s stressful enough. It’s too complicated to label depression. A lot of people have trauma they don’t know how to deal with and start drugs when they’re young which then they mature slower. I don’t think people want to be miserable, they just don’t know how to be happy. I’m so tired of the damn labels. Depression is not a cut and dry subject, Everyone has a story and some have nightmares,
I just mentioned family as support, and when you said that not everyone has family, I can see where you’re coming from. I have a small family, and honestly, sometimes they help and sometimes they can make it worse because they don’t understand. Some family members just never accept that depression is a real illness and this one hurts the most. So, yes, I do have a family, but I can still feel so alone at times and see myself as the only support system. I am spiritual, and to be honest, that has helped me feel less alone too.
For those who have no family, it can get way beyond tough. I want you to remember a few things, and this helped me in the past:
-There is still beauty in the world, you just have to find it in your own way.
-If depression were to drive you to give up, you may miss some spectacular breakthroughs in your life.
-Someone out there needs you, maybe not family, but someone may one day be thankful that you are in their lives.
-Your testimony may stop someone from suicide.
As far as drugs go, my cousin was murdered in a gas station parking lot over $20. At some point during his younger years, he turned to drugs. I know it wasn’t for fun because I know the toxic family environment where he was raised. He turned to drugs, endured jail many times, prison, and rehabilitation. Unfortunately, his life ended by a gunshot to the chest because he owed his dealer just $20!!! Can you imagine?
No one wants to be miserable, but this world is a tough place. We have nightmares, yes, we have horrific past traumas, but there is always hope. Let giving up be the last option. I wish you well.
Really a practical approach to the problem of depression. It has become a serious most mental illness throughout the world. Writer has aptly explained this issue. It is a praiseworthy effort.
Thank you for reading, Sanjeev. I am always searching for ways to alleviate depression. I suffer from this as well, and over the years, have learned a few tricks to bring me back. My loved ones help me too – sometimes their presence is enough to lift my spirits a bit. Yes, it is a serious issue, but I think if we keep learning as much as we can, we can find ways to help ourselves and others as well.
Although the variables which influence mental health and mental illness are certainly multi-faceted, I think for me something which may be to some extent overlooked is whether or not one feels capable of handling most situations which are thrown at you in life. If so, then you develop a sense of competence, confidence and self-esteem. If you do not, then the world can be a pretty frightening place, and you can become more dependent on other people for support than you would like. This is the situation I find myself in at 52 years. Fortunately, I do have pretty good support network of family and friends, which certainly “cushions” everything. I am on medication, see a therapist, exercise and pay close attention to what I eat, but it is still a struggle, which has limited what I have been able to do in terms of work. In any case, there is nothing else I can do but focus on what I am capable of doing and trying my best to learn new skills.