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Mapping depression Mapping depression
by Joseph Gatt
2020-11-23 10:52:03
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There are basically two types of depression: there's biological depression, and psychological depression.

Biological depression has to do with hormonal imbalances in the body and the brain and is difficult to treat. Hormonal imbalances in the brain and body are due to a multitude of factors, including genetics, diet, environment and other factors.

depres01_400Some try to treat biological depression with medication. Other therapies are offered including counseling sessions, group counseling sessions. Some also came up with programs like “phitotherapy” or having patients spend lots of time outdoors, in natural environments or in forests and the like. Or some recommend pets or spending time with animals as therapy. Or using water as therapy. Or others try to get patients to express themselves through various means, including art, visual arts, or anything creative.

Biological depression either manifests itself through excessive introversion, withdrawal, aloofness and apathy. Or through extroverted traits like constant complaining, framing everything as dark and gloomy, criticizing everything, paranoia and the like.

Symptoms can also include nausea, headaches, constant fatigue, tremors, cold sweats and other symptoms.

What I do to try to treat it? A complete inventory of what the patient does. A detailed inventory of what the patient eats drinks and does during the day.

Why? I used to have some of those symptoms until I had my Eureka moment and realized that anything that had tap water in it (including coffee, soup, noodles, tea, sometimes even alcohol is made with tap water... or other products with tap water in it) was what was causing that. The day I quit tap water and cooked everything with mineral water was the day I felt like an upbeat healthy 13 years old again.  

But then there is psychological depression, which is not due to hormonal imbalances, but to life and social circumstances. Here's a brief overview, and treatments.

Future shock

One common form of depression is longing for the past. Patients don't feel like they fit into the present, and feel like they would fit into the past better.

They could for example long for the past when they were more respected for their accomplishments. Or for when their source of income was a lot more profitable. Or because something trendy in the past is no longer trendy.

So this type of depression is one where patients constantly look to the past with longing, and are unhappy about the present, and uncertain about the future.

How would I recommend treating that?

The way I would treat this is by encouraging the patient to study the past and the present, and to be more precise about the past and the present.

People often feel anxious about the present because, while they understand their past world, they do not understand the present.

So I would recommend researching the present, reading, documentation, trying to learn how to fit into the present by understanding it.

Of course I would recommend that purely as an intellectual exercise. I would not recommend understanding the present so they can make risky investments or engage in risky behavior.

Culture shock

This form of depression is common among those who changed environments, and have trouble adapting to their present environment.

Could be a different country. Could be a different city. Could be a different company. Could be a different family.

Patients often do not understand the codes of behavior in their new environment, constantly make “faux-pas” and that makes them depressed. They start complaining, and claiming that they are the victims and not the perpetrators of these faux-pas.

How would I recommend treating that.

The best way to fit into a culture is by understanding the culture. So rather than vaguely understand the culture and not understand why they are making constant faux-pas, the idea is to observe the society and try to learn what to do and what not to do, and try to adapt.

Another common form of complaint among people who have culture shock is they often want to leave the culture they are being surrounded with and go back to their original culture. So the idea to treat that is to understand clearly why they are surrounded by this culture. Maybe it's a calling. Maybe it's a professional requirement. Maybe something in the future needs to be done and being in that culture is a must.

If there's no clear goal in mind, then it's probably best to leave the culture. However, many are stuck in countries or cultures that they can not leave because going back to their countries would lead to shaming and blaming among their families. That's when the objectives have to be studied carefully.

Many will be very confused and say something like “I want my 3,000 Euros a month job and I'm Senegalese but I don't want to work with Senegalese people but I want the White French people I work with to behave like the Senegalese and avoid offending my Senegalese beliefs.” This is when studying and understanding French culture, and setting up clear professional goals comes in handy.

Past trauma

For these guys, something (or many things) in the past prevented them from being successful (or happy) in the present.

They could be the victims of one act, or of a series of acts that they believe “destroyed” their happiness, careers, success and other things.

So these guys constantly complain about the past, rehash the past, and are obsessed about settling accounts with the past. They are traumatized by the past.

A lot of therapists say something like “you need to move on.”

What I would recommend is, first, getting the person to understand that if they were taught something like “the world is a good place and most people are good, and evil is bad” then they might be disappointed. I try to work with these guys by telling them that the world is a bit of a violent environment, and that there will be quite a few battles that you will have to fight, some alone, some with friends, some with colleagues, some with family. The world is not a perpetual vacation where you travel for food and fun.

Second thing I try to work on is trying to reestablish priorities, goals and objectives. I try to work with the idea that it's OK that they didn't make it to college because their classmates bullied them. But now they need to work on new objectives that will lead to, hopefully, even better rewards than if they had been to college.


An underrated form of depression is “boredom.” Few therapists discuss this one.

Boredom is when people are depressed because “life is too easy” and “there are no challenges.” Some very high profile athletes experienced this form of depression, because playing ball was too easy, scoring was too easy, winning was too easy, and they wanted a big team who could challenge them to win tough games.

Some people fight boredom by creating risky and dangerous challenges. Others engage in risky behavior such as gambling, because gambling is pretty much the only challenge they can find.

I usually try to work with these guys to see what activity they find difficult, challenging, safe and rewarding, and try to see if they can work on those long-term.

Challenging and safe activities include exercising, learning foreign languages, things like crossfit, some sports are difficult, safe and challenging like canoeing, mountain climbing, some hiking trails are very challenging, travelling to some places can be very challenging. Then you have things like studying or reading, and you also have “fun” challenges such as collecting items, scavenger hunts, learning musical instruments, learning how to dance, acting in a theater play and the likes. Of course, some charity activities can be very challenging.  


The opposite of boredom.

These guys are stuck in a life where they are stuck with tasks that they don't know how to perform.

They could live in a country where they don't speak the language. They could do a job and have no idea how they're supposed to do it. They could be stuck with people and have no idea how to deal with them. They could be stuck with children and have no idea how to raise them.

There are two ways to go about this and treat this. First step is usually to try to make friends who are stuck in similar situations. That group of people can then discuss how to go about the challenges. Don't watch desperate housewives, meet with real desperate housewives. Don't binge on “the office” and make some real friends who work at an office.

When you meet lots of people who face the same challenges (can't get the job done, or live in a country where you don't speak the language) you can eventually trade tips on how to get around with that “handicap.”

Where do you find friends like that? Social media for starters. Or try to figure out where the hangouts are.

What if you can't find people stuck in a similar situation? There should be at least a small group of people with similar “problems.” Otherwise you can contact local authorities (could be a church, an embassy, an association, a focus group, anything really) where you can find people to trade tips on how to go about life in that difficult situation.

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