Take two friends before bedtime

Dec
11
2009
by
Lynne McTaggart
/
21
Comments

‘Tis the season to be jolly - but only for some of us. It’s also the season where one in six of us in the West are overwhelmingly, debilitatingly depressed. In fact, so prevalent is depression that it is predicted to overtake heart disease as the number one illness of our times.
True clinical depression, like most illness these days, is considered largely our ancestor’s fault. The entire edifice of standard treatment for depression rests upon the theory that depression results from a chemical imbalance within the brain, which in many circles is considered to be largely hereditary.
A chemical imbalance
Most of the millions of people diagnosed as suffering from clinical depression are told they are low in a neurotransmitter called serotonin, which is largely responsible for mood. For decades, the medical solution has been to offer up a drug to counteract this poor genetic roll of the dice.

This view of the origin of depression mirrors that of virtually all of medicine, which maintains that blueprint of our life and health lies in our DNA, the genetic coding that supposedly holds a fixed menu of our potential for health or illness.
My heart problem is like dad’s, who had a dicky ticker; I’m likely to get breast cancer because it’s what my grandmother died of. We look upon ourselves in a sense as victims—victims of our genetic history.
The fact is ‘chemical imbalance’ theory of depression never been convincingly proven in any peer-reviewed study anywhere. Researchers comparing the cerebrospinal fluid of clinically depressed and suicidal patients have found absolutely no differences in their serotonin levels, compared with those of healthy controls.
Even when of healthy participants in medical trials have had their serotonin levels deliberately lowered, they have failed to become depressed; when depressed people have been given huge increases of serotonin their symptoms have not improved.
Indeed, the bible of the psychiatric community, The Textbook of Clinical Psychiatry, refers to the theory of serotonin deficiency as “an unconfirmed hypothesis”.
Some forward-thinking researchers are re-examining the serotonin issue — in fact the entire theory of why depression occurs — in light of work such as that which has just emerged from Northwestern University.
The genetic short straw
Joan Chiao, an assistant professor of psychology at the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern, was fascinated by the genetic roll of the dice signified by the gene (STG), which is responsible for transporting serotonin.
STG comes in two different flavors —the short and long allele — but the short allele, like its name, represents the short straw. This variation carries the major ‘on’ switch for depression; anyone with this gene who goes on to experience multiple life stresses is thought to be overwhelmingly likely to spiral into major depression.
Chiao and her colleagues are part of the new field of cultural neuroscience, which examines mental health across nations and individual social groups. One of the greatest distinctions in any culture is how someone thinks of himself — as an individual or mainly in relation to a group.
In Chiao’s study, she and her colleagues first began by differentiating the cultural values of 29 countries, including the US, the major European countries, South Africa, Eastern Europe, and also South Asia, East Asia and South America. They examined the degree to which each population was individualistic or collectivistic – that is, whether their cultures place greater emphasis on the individual or the group.
“People from highly individualistic cultures like the United States and Western Europe are more likely to value uniqueness over harmony, expression over agreement, and to define themselves as unique or different from the group,” Chiao noted. We are defined by our distinctiveness.
Social harmony
In collectivistic societies, such as those of East Asia, on the other hand, higher value is placed on social harmony rather than individuality. The culture encourages behaviors and practices that endorse interdependence and group cohesion. These people are largely defined by the social groups to which they belong.
Chiao’s team then studied the genetic makeup of all these societies. They discovered that East Asia has a hugely disproportionate number of carriers of the short allele — at least 80 per cent of the population — who are genetically susceptible to depression.
In fact, they found a powerful association between the collectivistic tendencies of the population and the prevalence of the short allele gene. The tighter knit the population, the higher percentage of the people who carried the gene for depression.
If the genetic theory of depression is right, they should have discovered correspondingly high levels of depression among these populations.
Instead, they found the opposite: among these highly susceptible populations, the actual prevalence of depression was significantly lower than that of Western Europe or America.
Buffering from the group
Chiao believes that their surprise finding has to do with a tacit or openly acknowledged expectation of social support. “Such support seems to buffer vulnerable individuals from the environmental risks or stressors that serve as triggers to depressive episodes,” she noted.
As a rough rule of thumb,” wrote Harvard political scientist Robert D. Putnam in his book Bowling Alone (Simon & Schuster, 2002), “if you belong to no groups but decide to join one, you cut your risk of dying over the next year in half.”
Make sure this season to have yourself a friendly little Christmas.

Lynne McTaggart

Lynne McTaggart is an award-winning journalist and the author of seven books, including the worldwide international bestsellers The Power of Eight, The Field, The Intention Experiment and The Bond, all considered seminal books of the New Science and now translated into some 30 languages.

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21 comments on “Take two friends before bedtime”

  1. We live in a very stressed part of the world, (the western world) and with all the instant communication from Internet to TV etc we are constantly bombarded with a never ending stream of doom and gloom. No wonder depression is so prevalent.

  2. Heart disease and depression are one and the same. It is "Losing Heart". Words DO mean something.
    Marilyn

  3. Studies done is Sydney compared 3 groups of "depressed" individuals, and treated one with drugs, one with drugs and exercise, and one with exercise alone. Guess what...the group that showed the most significant improvement was the exercise alone group! So...feeling depressed...go for a brisk walk (or some other form of exercise). Encourage others to walk with you...even better, since you have the "group" effect as well.

  4. I WOULD ALSO ENCOURAGE THE PEOPLE WHO FIND THEMSELVES TO BE DEPRESSED, TO PLEASE JOIN MEET-UP GROUPS IN YOUR COMMUNITY LIKE MINE THAT SERVE TO FACILITATE LIKE INTERESTS & MINDS OF PEOPLE WHO LIKE TO GET TOGETHER FOR THE SENSE OF COMMUNITY SPIRIT, AND GO TO THOSE THAT HELP TO NURTURE ONE'S INNER-SPIRIT AND HARMONY ... THERE ARE MANY TYPES OF HEALING CIRCLES THAT DO THAT, WHICH PEOPLE MAY ATTEND FOR THINGS LIKE REIKI ENERGY BALANCING, WHICH IS A GREAT WAY TO REDUCE STRESS AND NURTURE ONE'S SENSE OF WELL BEING ... THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO HAVE GROUPS AND WOULD LOVE TO COME TOGETHER TO PRACTICE & STUDY YOGA AND TAI-CHI OR AND MANY DIFFERENT TYPES OF MEDITATION ... THESE GROUPS THAT FOCUS ON SLOWING DOWN AND BECOMING STILL HAVE BEEN VERY HELPFUL FOR MY PERSONAL WELL BEING, BRAIN HEALTH AND DEVELOPMENT OF HIGHER BRAIN WAVE COHERANCE AND CONSCIOUSNESS WITH A DEEP SENSE OF INNER PEACE, INNER-AWARENESS & SENSE OF ONENESS WITH ONE ANOTHER ... I THINK GROUPS LIKE THIS COULD HELP TO HEAL THE ENTIRE PLANET IF A SENSE OF COMMUNITY AND SHARING RESULTED FROM PEOPLE COMING TOGETHER MORE OFTEN LIKE THIS. IF WE HAD MORE POT-LUCK STYLE PARTIES OF GROUPS SUCH AS THESE; PEOPLE SHARING AND EATING MEALS TOGETHER; THAT COULD ALSO HELP TO FACSILITATE & FOSTER A GENERAL SENSE OF WELL BEING FOR THOSE WHO ARE DEPRESSED AND HAVE THE GREAT NEED & DESIRE FOR COMMUNITY BECAUSE THEY LIVE ALONE, EAT ALONE, AND DO EVERYTHING ALONE DUE TO THEIR DEPRESSION ... NAMASTE ... PAUL - CHICAGO ACTIVIST, REIKI MASTER, & NESARA TAKE ACTION TEAM

  5. There are different types of depressions. Some depressions do indeed come from chemical imbalances in the brain, others do not. Depending on what kind of depression one has, one needs to find the most effective treatment. To dismiss medication out of hand isn't entirely responsible. What I wonder is if all of this depression could be projected into the Field and then be picked up by sensitive individuals, thereby affecting them?

  6. Without investigating the science of it, I know when I experienced ‘depression’ for the first time, it was a period in my life when I was very unhappy, both at work and home.
    As an American living in Australia, I was still trying to assimilate into a different culture. The economy was trashed, so I was forced to take a backwards step in my job or be let go. I was living in a tiny studio-apartment as that’s all I could afford in Sydney.
    For the first time in my life I felt totally out of control, and as a control freak that was very difficult to accept. All I could think of was my own misery...
    With the help of Lynne, and the many other Noetic researchers, I now realise that I was the creator of my depression. My focus was on what was happening to me, not what I could do to change it.
    I believe that whether a chemical imbalance exists or not, or whether a particular gene exists or not, the real cause of depression is ‘unhappiness’ and/or extreme feelings of ‘lack of control’.
    The great news is that both of these emotive outcomes can be fixed through direct focus and intention! Read Lynne’s books. Watch ‘What the Bleep Do We Know?’ Learn as much as you can about the power of thoughts and intention. Then meditate on what you’ve learned and apply it to your life.
    I also agree with Sue...spend as much time surrounded by nature as you possibly can! You need those negative ions. It has worked for me!
    Write On!

  7. A broader question posed by your article is what other epigenetic mechanisms (gene-environment interactions) produce vulnerability to depression. The STG gene is a prime example of epigenetics. The STG gene seems to affect how we respond to stressful life events. Therefore vulnerability to depression is conditional not just on the presence of a gene BUT also exposure to stress and other environmental risk factors.
    Psychosocial stress is reduced by social interaction, exercise, meditation, diet, and nutrition. This is a revolutionary idea. It is actually possible to reduce our stress through our lifestyle choices and therefore by improving our physical wellbeing we can reduce our risk of depression.
    Our lifestyle choices are a potent driver of our genes. Exercise and/or social interaction can actually turn on and off a potentially harmful gene and with it our risk of an illness. This idea is both empowering and potentially transformational to the way we think.
    Epigenesis is a whole new paradigm of health and prevention. Depression, anxiety, dementia are all impacted by our day-in day-out decisions about how we live, play, eat and love. So too are most of the other chronic diseases that hit on us as we age – heart disease, diabetes, stroke, arthritis, cancer.
    Social interaction is just one factor of many that can prevent disease. An intention that empowers people to exercise, meditate, eat healthy food and improve and increase social interactions is an omnipotent panacea for the body, mind and soul.
    Rudrani Tooth ND (BPsych, BHsc, Dip Nutr – mental health)

  8. Simple tip...after morning shower turn off the hot and experience a few seconds of all over cold water...perhaps it is the courage that it takes to do this or something else but it really can change the outlook of the day as well as feel great...try it and see 🙂

  9. i would agree to all of the above.. first time uni student , travelling everyday (100 kms away) for 4 years, has put me in the position of confusion (-control), isolation, minimal positive validation etc. over an extended period of time. Thank goodness for medication and chiropractors.. I got sick at the sound of my own voice re"does anyone know what they are talking about?" SO eventually tried leaving my peers alone (their first time too), I must have picked up every bug (autoimmune system).. I was never home much-enabling my church family to help... NOW i only have ONE assignment to go ! P.S. CURTIS i have an Americ/Aussi uni friend who would agree with everything you said.. her moments of melancholy emerged over these 4 years.. she has been here over 10 years. BUT i am imagining a very brightand successful future. 🙂

  10. You have some interesting points in your article. I definately know that I got my depression from my direct ancestors.
    To get an idea of what true depression is like, everyone should read "Cracked Teacups" by B.E. Moore. This book has been credited for bringing understanding to those who know people who are depressed as well as making those with depression feel better about themselves and feel not alone. It's an excellent read.

  11. Good post! I had to learn to think positive thoughts in order to change my depression, frustration, low energy moods, to become a more alert and happily satisfied woman. It took me ten years to figure out that I had complete control over how I feel through my thoughts and what I ate. Certain foods and beverages make me feel lethargic after eating them, which will bring on the negative thoughts.
    I practice daily keeping myself in an uplifting happy mood by checking on my thoughts. I know immediately when I am around someone who is thinking more negative thoughts then positive thoughts because I will start thinking negative thoughts and start feeling sluggish in my body. I will immediately replace those negative thoughts with any thought that brings me joy, i.e. puppies, babies, nature, I like all animals- in order to keep myself feeling good. (Sometimes this is exhausting to do, especially at work. Most people have no control over their thoughts and are thinking and/or feeling negative.)
    I have chosen not to be around many people because I pick up others thoughts and feelings very easily. I know when I start feeling a need to have contact with someone outside of my family and will go to my place of worship to get my fill of human contact that last me for a while.
    I believe our thoughts are responsible for how we feel and how those around us feel. I also have learned when I think about a person I will pick up how they are feeling in me. So, I am careful about putting too much attention on someone else.
    If you are not convinced about other people thoughts affecting you or your thoughts affecting others then think about these scenarios:
    Have you ever finished a thought of someone who is in the same room with you? How did their thoughts get in your head?
    Have you been thinking about someone and you hear from them or someone else tells you about them?
    There are people today who are paralyzed using their thoughts to control computers. Thoughts have energy.
    Did you marry or dating a person who has the same energy-thoughts and behaviors- as your mother or father? Do you feel like soul mates? Soul mates are nothing more than familiar energy of a person you grew with or had your thoughts on while growing up.
    Did you participate in the Intention Experiment on Sri Lanka? How did 15,000 people’s thoughts asking for the violence to be reduced by 10% stop a 25 year war? Thoughts affect everything in this Universe.
    Happy thinking!

  12. Dear Lynn,
    Your site came to me through the Google Alert for "Epigenetic control system."
    A attentively read the description of your experiments -- I am well acquainted with Rustum Roy, Gary Schwartz, Rupert Sheldrake, Konstantin Korotkov and Roger Nelson. Also I communicated with F-A Popp. Unfortunately, the detailed experimental results are not accessible but you were brave enough to mention negative outcomes.
    I do not identify myself with the New Age tradition -- just try to keep myself within a scientific methodology.
    I feel that you MUST read the book I edited and published in 2007 "LIFE and MIND -- in Search of the Physical Basis" that is presented at my site http://www.misaha.com
    The site also presents my 11-year-long publishing of MISAHA Newsletter that broad me in touch with the co-authors of the book. But the scientific community for whom the book is written is not ready to pay attention to it.
    Please consider how we could cooperate.
    Best wishes,
    Savva

  13. (corrected language)
    Dear Lynn,
    Your site came to me through the Google Alert for “Epigenetic control system.”
    I attentively read the description of your experiments — I am well acquainted with Rustum Roy, Gary Schwartz, Rupert Sheldrake, Konstantin Korotkov and Roger Nelson. Also I communicated with F-A Popp. Unfortunately, the detailed experimental results are not accessible but you were brave enough to mention negative outcomes.
    I do not identify myself with the New Age tradition — just try to keep myself within a scientific methodology.
    I feel that you MUST read the book I edited and published in 2007 “LIFE and MIND — in Search of the Physical Basis” that is presented at my site http://www.misaha.com
    The site also presents my 11-year-long publishing of MISAHA Newsletter that brought me in touch with the co-authors of the book. But the scientific community for whom the book was written is not ready to pay attention to it.
    Please consider how we could cooperate.
    Best wishes,
    Savva

  14. Love and appreciation is the absence of resistance. The feeling of inner resistance never feels good - it is where the frequencies are low and all dis-eases begin. The moment you increase your coherence level your nervous, cardiovascular, hormonal, metabolic and immune systems change and work together harmoniously. We have to do the inner work and the body will heal itself.

  15. While it is true that we have genes and certain substances in greater or lessor quantities in our bodies they are a result of thoughts and beliefs rather than a cause. So far science seems to have it all backward though Bruce Lipton describes breakthrough studies with genes that support this. All matter is essentially mind, or mind energy.

  16. Dear Lynn and everyone who participate in your experiments.
    It's great that Lyn and here assistants are doing all this experiments!
    I have dream after Obama has been in Norway receiving the "World Peace price" and Denmark is hosting this very important "Climate meeting" that Lynn all here assistants will help the world leaders to go for a politic that make this earth to a good place for all and to stop the climate to change.
    My english isn't so good, but I do hope you understand what my wish is.
    Thank you to Lynn!
    Love to all from Marit

  17. This is an interesting finding. What makes it even more interesting is that overall, collectivist societies are less happy than individualistic ones, although we need to be careful about how we define the terms "individualistic", "collectivist" and "happiness". See, for example, Ahuvia's study "Individualism/Collectivism and Cultures of Happiness"

  18. The cure for all dis-ease is the realization of pure non-dualism. "At-one-ment and healing are identical." - A Course In Miracles
    For my-(s)elf, these are not just theoretical statements or beliefs. I used to be a suicidal, bi-polar, alchoholic who experienced occassional bouts of "out of this world" psychosis. Through the practice of perfect honesty and trust in my-(S)elf I am perfect and whole as I was created.
    I no longer require any substances to "numb/treat" my mental conditions including prescribed medication (magic). My mind is peacful, my heart rests, and my experince is harmonious, synchronistic, and joyful. What was the cure? Prayer, forgiving my resentments (all of them, over and over and over), loving unconditionally, and learning how to give without expectations.
    The healed become the healers as the Christ!
    Merry Christmas to all :^)

  19. Seasons Greetings to All,
    I have struggled with depression at this time of the year in the past. Over the past couple years I discovered that I have the power to choose how I feel so I am very much aware of my "gut feelings". It takes a little work to start to put a positive spin on things but it can be done. This is a "mind over matter world" so choose the thoughts that make you feel better and take back your life..
    Namaste.

  20. To everyone, across the miles , and near , many wonderful moments this holiday. Each and everyone helps me so much. Thank you and keep sending prayers for my dear nephew Matt, and his mom , I so need your prayers for them. Thank you and Love and Peace . MERRY CHRISTMAS. The intentions that you send will be the best Christmas for me, as I will be thinking of all of you . Peace and Love.

  21. I used to have severe depression; my psychiatrist diagnosed me as having Major Depressive Disorder. We tried several medications and we finally "found one" that "worked." I have to say though, I don't believe any of the medications ever had anything to do with any of my improvement (this would not make my doctor happy, haha...). I'm still prescribed an SSRI but I don't take it anymore and somehow I'm 90% better. So as not to launch into a huge story of what happened, I'll just leave you with this: a major event occurred in my life a couple years ago that turned everything around for the worst and should have made me feel even more horrible than I had already (I had been suicidal at times) but my view at the time was that I couldn't feel any worse at the time so I must just feel better. I also WANTED to come back and show people that I was finally better. Here I am 2 years later and I don't consider myself at ALL to be depressed. And I believe it's because of my thinking. Years ago when I was stuck in depression I gave up and didn't care about getting better. I didn't want to. I finally want to be better more than anything and now... I AM. Hmmmm. I never needed facts to tell me that "Intentional" thinking could work. I know from experience. I'm absolutely thrilled about the work that's being done here!! 🙂

Why wait any longer when you’ve already been waiting your entire life?

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