Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Modern LIfe and Depression

 We are living at a time of great change, with the need for the economy to respond quickly to recent developments in technology. As a result, industry is cutting back, firing is common, and the resort to mergers is adding to the 'downsizing' syndrome, and more unemployment. Having a life time job has pretty much disappeared. Unlimited competition, the flexibility of employers to hire irregular workers, the government's emphasis on economic development, the numbers of unemployed and suicides are all related.

A professor in preventive medicine at the Catholic University medical school begins her culture of life column in the Peace Weekly with the above observations. She makes clear that what is happening in the financial world is having a decided influence on  those in their forties who are suicide-prone. Family ties and societal support systems are  weak and are not able to overcome the daily stresses people routinely encounter today.

Stress, we know, is a part of  life; it permeates all of society, but many are not able to deal effectively with it. A survey of 600 workers found that 33 percent believed the work they were doing was excessive. Many found the pressure was too much and contemplated leaving their work. One out of three had some psychogenic illness and felt they were heading toward burnout.

When faced with stress, she says, there is a change in our bodies and minds. Our minds become troubled, putting us on edge and irritated, often without any good reason. Because of these feelings of uneasiness and depression, the quality of our lives is greatly diminished.

Depression is now as prevalent in our society, the professor says, as the common cold, and is a problem we have yet to deal with successfully. One out of four women struggles with it, and one out of ten men.  All ages and classes, in fact, are susceptible to bouts of depression, but those from 40 to 50 are said to be the most vulnerable.

Because of a loss of confidence in dealing with life, a loss of self respect, many depressed people consider themselves losers, failures. And there is nobody, they think, that can help them resolve the problems they face. And when they reach bottom, without hope, suicide becomes a possible way out for them. Some try to alleviate the problem by drinking, which only makes matters worse. But in the beginning stages, 80 to 90 percent can be helped to return to a normal life.

All of society has to be concerned with this problem. We have to see it as something that can be overcome and not give up our attempts to help. There are of course different ways to do this, to give strength to those having difficulties: Government, especially, has to increase society's safety net, along with all of us pitching in, preparing ourselves to help those facing stress by offering to  do whatever is necessary to help those who see life without hope to see it less pessimistically.  And in the religious world, we have to make it easier for people to express  their worries and problems, as well as being there for them with words of encouragement.