Day 63 – Depression and Unmet Need

While having my fun scrolling Facebook, I happened upon this video on depression featuring Johann Hari, author of Lost Connections.  

He talks about how there is the belief that depression is a result of a chemical imbalance, but actually much of depression is a result of a human being’s unmet needs.

This seemingly little revelation caused me to gasp out loud with both surprise as I’ve never heard depression termed in such a way before and a feeling of rightness as this concept holds a lot of truth for me.

rear view of a boy sitting on grassland
Photo by Pixabay on

I have been guilty of sharing that depression is a result of a chemical imbalance to my loved ones, but it never seemed to tell the full story.  It was a trite explanation for an immense issue which was meant to alleviate shame and guilt around suffering from depression, as well it should; however, I still didn’t feel like it covered the heart of the issue and made the solution feel more like a crap shoot in finding the right tools and the correct dose of medication so an individual could function.

The concept of unmet needs resonates strongly as it changes the locus of “fault” from a defective brain (internal) to an emotional, environmental and/or societal reason (external affecting internal), and instead of medicating, talking therapies and mindfulness practices being the only tools in our toolbox for managing depression, perhaps more clarity into the unmet needs of our fellow humans would allow us to take a more individualized wholehearted approach on treating depression, one which not only makes someone function in society, but gives someone a purpose-full life.

I know the reality of this is a long way in the future, and while I feel heaviness for those who are alone in their battle with depression, those who have loved ones with a deeper understanding of depression being a human being’s unmet needs, the more hopeful I am that strategies that treat the heart of a human instead just focusing on releasing more or less chemicals in the brain may make this a better world for those who suffer.

Note: I am never anti-medication.  As in all treatments, they have their time and place.

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