People often confuse depression with grief or pain. Pain is immediate and grief comes after an apparent and significant loss. But depression is something that can gradually and sneakily grow without your knowledge until it weaves itself into the fabric of your daily experience. It is hard to notice when it is still nascent. But it is not ignorable when it has fully taken seed. With pain and grief it is very simple to point out the exact cause of the unwanted feelings. But depression seems to come without an apparent cause. Is it possible? Can you be depressed for no reason at all?
The short answer is yes. But since depression is a complex issue, the answer cannot be that simple. Let’s look at the issue from all angles.
The Cause-and-Effect Depression
Sometimes people get into a rut of consistent bad feelings or depression where they can point to no psychological reason at all. Nothing really bad happened with them recently, nor are they particularly stressed about any specific thing.
If you find yourself in such a situation, I encourage you to make a hypothesis that your depression may be an effect of a lifestyle/environment related cause.
Though very few people know this, you can actually experience symptoms of ‘actual’ clinical depression because of some common, easily rectifiable, lifestyle factors. Some of the most common ones are:
- Lack of enough sleep for many days in a row
- Adequate hours of sleep but poor quality of sleep in those hours
- Deficiency of Vitamin D in the body
- Winter season (yes, it’s a thing called Seasonal Affective Disorder)
- Having too high levels of acidity or inflammation in the body
- Interacting with toxic people on a regular basis
There is ample research done on the correlation of sleep with mental health in people and the science is solid. If you are not sleeping enough or well enough, your brain is accumulating a load of toxins and too much wear & tear. And this physiological stress invariably translates into psychological stress.
Many times when we feel stressed we naturally believe that there must be some deep meaning behind it that we have to identify. But sometimes there is no deep meaning. Sometimes, it’s just simple. Fix your sleep routine. Do it for 2 weeks. Notice the changes. Odds are that your depression will have gone or reduced significantly. Here’s a great article on good sleep habits, you can follow this as a guide.
Similarly, the current season and the amount of sunlight (Vitamin D) you are getting are 2 others seemingly non-related factors that have an impact on your mood. It doesn’t seem probable, but again is backed by a lot of scientific experiments.
If you’re interested in the science, read (this) for effect of poor sunlight exposure on mood and (this) for learning about how the weather might be making you feel depressed.
The common theme is all the above factors are easily manageable. If you ascertain that your bad feelings might be a result of these causes, you can take a breather and know that you can overcome them by making a few quick fixes and your life will be substantially better in no time.
But the last factor in my list i.e. toxic people or toxic relationships is a little tricky.
Listen man, if you haven’t yet recognized that the people around you make a hell of a difference to the quality of your life, you may be blind. Have you ever known someone who as they walk inside a room, sap the whole energy out of everybody instantly?
Some relationships are overtly toxic, some are subtly so. Some people know how their behavior is affecting you and some just can’t help it because that’s who they are. I don’t even need to define what a toxic relationship means because the one relationship that came to your mind the moment you read the word ‘toxic’; that’s the one I’m talking about.
It is very probable that the person who’s bringing this toxicity in your life out of the following four characters – Your mother/father, one of your dominating friends, your girlfriend/wife, your boss.
It is quite possible that this person actually loves you, but knows no other way to behave and as a result ends up being a cause of stress for you.
One of the most common ways you might feel around this person is feeling undermined, dominated, pressurized, guilty or not-enough.
If any one of the above things ring a bell, know that it is them and not you. No one is supposed to make you feel like that. Sure, this person might be more virtuous and more knowledgeable than you. But it doesn’t matter what someone says to you, what matters is how they make you feel after interacting with them.
If you have such a person in your life for a very long time, your mood might consistently end up being low. And too bad a mood for too many days in a row ends up becoming depression.
If you’re in this situation, I suggest you this. Get around more and different people. You can’t disown your parents or friends, can’t leave your girl, nor am I asking you to quit your job because of your boss. But what I am saying is socialize with other people who have mindsets and viewpoints different than this person.
Because when you hang out with other people and they don’t give you the same kind of behavior you’ve been used to getting from this person, you get perspective. You get their validation that maybe you are alright the way you are and you don’t need to fret too much about yourself.
Socializing with different kinds of people is always an alleviator of stress. Do it. Your future self will thank you.
In summary, it is quite possible to feel depressed with no apparent emotional reason. You must always make a hypothesis that your anxiety or depression is a result of your lifestyle habits or environment. And you should try to correct those factors as a first step.
Chances are you won’t even need to do anything else and your problem will be solved within few weeks.
If you have read this far down, it is my hope that you live a life that makes you excited, thrilled and proud of yourself. Because you living a 100% life is what the world around you needs. And you have it in you to do it.
So best of luck for fighting your emotional woes. Until next time…