Kaiser is currently doing a national campaign to educate and inform people about Depression in the hopes of reducing the stigma people experience around it.
Interestingly, the statistics show that Depression is so prevalant in our country that it is referred to as "the common cold of mental illness." But it is hard to establish accurate numbers because it is underreported
mainly because people don't want the stigma of depression. The NIMH (National Institute for Mental Health) estimates that 16 million people in the US suffer from depression. That is 6.9% of the population. Depression is also the
leading cause of disability when people go on medical leave from work.
All of those statistics typcially help people to feel that they are not alone. But by it's very nature, Depression is a condition that inspires isolation and withdrawal from other people. People often compare their insides to
everyone else's outsides and they look around seeing happy, active people and they feel like something's wrong with them because they don't fit in.
With so many people experiencing depression, you would think that there would be more acceptance of it and perhaps there is on an interpersonal level. But unfortunately, our insurance system will take a depression diagnosis and
really, any diagnosis and use it as an excuse to charge more for coverage or even deny coverage for a "pre-existing" condition.
The truth is, that like anger and anxiety, depression is a part of the instinctual activation system in the human body. The activation system is entirely based on perception; the individual's perception of their level of power
in comparison to the dangers/stressors they encounter in life.
Based on the mind/body connection, if the mind perceives that the current challenge is more powerful than the individual, their body will react with the desire to run away. If the challenge appears less powerful, the
individual's body will react with anger and the desire to overcome it. If the challenge is perceived as inescapable and there is no clear action to take, the individual's body will react by freezing in powerlessness. It
is waiting for clear direction when in reality there may be nothing the individual can do.
What is perceived as more powerful/less powerful or inescapable is also entirely based on the perception of the individual and their beliefs about themselves. This is why people who have been traumatized and/or abused are more
prone to depression as typcially their sense of individual power was compromised through their experience of abuse.
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