We need to understand what depression is. What happens within you when you feel low? Fundamentally, you expected something to happen and it did not happen. You expected someone or something to be your way, or the world or destiny to be your way, and it did not happen. In other words, you are simply against what is happening; that is all. Maybe you are against a person, a situation, or maybe you are against life itself. Accordingly, the depression will run deeper and deeper.
Why are you against something? Only because things did not go your way. Why should the whole world go your way? Please know, the world does not go your way. Either you have no faith in the Creator or you have no acceptance, or both, and you have a hyper-sensitive ego. That is why you get depressed.
What Happens When You Are Depressed
Depression makes you cynical and is deeply self-damaging. Depressed people only hurt themselves more. Killing need not necessarily mean physical killing. For a man who goes out with the sword and kills someone, his ego is not as sensitive – it does not need as much nurturing as a depressed man’s ego. The violent man can be very easily settled. Have you seen this on the streets? When people get into a fight, if there is one man with a little wisdom who just handles them right, those people, who are trying to kill each other one moment, will drop it and become friends and go off the next moment. But this is not so with the depressed person. He will carry this for life. Whether they do it consciously or not, these people go on sharpening their knife and cutting their own heart. Why will a person go on hurting himself? Generally it is to get sympathy. For a very depressed person, normal sympathy is not sufficient; someone should bleed with him.
Now what is there in you that can get hurt? If I beat your body with a stick, the body will get hurt; that is different. Otherwise, what is it that gets hurt within you? The mind and the inner nature cannot get hurt. It is only the ego that gets hurt. If you say “I want to grow,” it means trampling your ego and going ahead beyond this.
The Source of Depression
Depression is a kind of agony. If you have become agony and not ecstasy, it is because a large part of your life energy is happening compulsively, not consciously. It is happening as a reaction to external situations. Once you are happening compulsively, becoming depressed is very normal, because external situations are never a hundred percent in your control. There are so many things happening in the world; if you react compulsively, getting lost and becoming miserable is natural. The more exposed you are to life, the more miserable you will become.
People can cause depression in their mood in so many ways. If you take away what they think is precious, they become depressed. The tragedy with a lot of people, especially in affluent societies, is that they have everything and yet they have nothing. Depression means that somewhere, a certain hopelessness has set in. If you go to some very poor village in India, they are really impoverished, but you will see joyful faces because they have hope that it is going to be better tomorrow. In affluent societies, that hope is gone. Depression has set in because everything that can be used externally has been fixed.
How to Overcome Depression
Physical activity is a very important part of maintaining the chemical balance in the system. Over the last few generations, our physical activity has decreased substantially. Therefore, maintaining the chemical balance in the system becomes difficult. Depression is just one manifestation of that. Some sit in a corner and sulk. Others, who are bipolar, can get violent. The common approach is to tranquilize them with chemicals, tablets or injections. This destroys the potential of the individual.
One of the simplest and best ways of establishing balance is lots of physical activity in a natural environment – ideally from an early age. Another aspect is being consciously in touch with the five elements of nature – earth, water, air, sunlight or fire, and space. One more factor is the type of food you eat – over-processed food should be avoided. Yet another factor is the lack of emotional security that modern generations are suffering. They cannot really invest their emotions in anyone, because no one will be around for too long.
To sum it up, the rise of depression is mainly due to changing lifestyles. Too much eating, not enough activity, no exposure to nature, no contact with the five elements, no emotional security – these are the main reasons why depression has become so widespread in the world today. If we take care of these aspects, we can considerably reduce the incidence and prevalence of depression and other mental disorders.