Updated: Jan 14
So, you had a bad day.
Then you had another one…
And another one…
Until it goes on so long that you wonder if you have depression. You think, “Wait, I can’t be depressed. I have a safe place to live, a supportive family, and a stable job. What on earth do I have to be depressed about?”
Often, when people first face feeling depressed, they list out the reasons they shouldn’t be. They assume they’d have to be bottom-of-the-barrel empty and out of luck, money, and love.
Depression can be caused by several things. Let’s talk about today's soaring rates of depression and how the current state of the world fits into that.
Depression and How You View The Future
In 2015, research from the University of Pennsylvania finally proved what some therapists have been seeing in practice for years—that how you imagine your future affects your mental health. (Meaning, being pessimistic about the future can quite literally lead to depression, instead of the other way around.)
If you have a positive and specific vision for your future, you’re more likely to feel motivated to meet it as it guides you through life. However, if you have a negative outlook on your future, it can feel like all the life in the middle is pretty pointless.
How are you supposed to keep up morale at work if you have no faith in what you’re working toward? How are you supposed to take care of yourself if you believe you will never be physically fit, anyway?
This mindset can bring on a host of depressive symptoms, like loss of interest in formerly fun activities, irritability and outbursts over small things, and clouded thinking.
“A lot of people have it worse than me. Why should I be depressed?”
First of all, depression isn’t Santa Claus. It doesn’t pick and choose from a list of naughty and nice, poor and rich, unhealthy and healthy, and so on. While specific life factors can certainly increase one’s chances of depression, there are plenty of happy people in this world who have faced hardship.
You can have a stable day-to-day life and still feel depressed because of your future outlook. If your social feeds, news reports, and company memos all signal incoming signs of destruction and instability, you could be feeling pretty negative.
Some of us internalize more of these signals than we think. Consider the images you’ve consumed from almost two years of living in a pandemic knotted with civil unrest and political scandals.
Most of us hope to grow into a world that becomes more peaceful, more loving, and more advanced. That vision becomes harder to believe every time we see a photo of an overstuffed ICU room or a viral video of police brutality.
How Depression Rates Have Changed in Recent Years
Let’s just look at the numbers. A Household Pulse Survey from earlier this year showed people reporting symptoms of anxiety and depression up from 36.4% to 41.5% during COVID-19. This increase was even more prominent in young adults (ages 18-29) and people without a GED.
Young adults and adults without a high school degree are obviously more preoccupied with their future than the average Joe. When they face images of rushing water flooding European streets at record-breaking levels, or graphs with downward facing arrows covering job loss, their outlook on life dampens.
People who were formerly upbeat and bubbly may now be sullen and apathetic after a year of disturbing images on our screens and in our papers. Depression will try to convince you that there’s nothing you can control—everything is just bad, and it’s going to stay that way.
That’s not true.
Schedule an appointment with one of our counselors today and together we can identify a more balanced view of the world. One that may even improve your outlook enough to change it for the better.