In our everyday lives, we have many things that make us unhappy. Problems with work, problems with our personal relationships, financial problems, and many other factors make us unhappy. It is not uncommon for most of us to experience at least one or more of these issues in our lives.
These problems may sometimes push us to feel dull, unmotivated, and may even push us to become depressed. While now depression has been viewed as a serious mental issue and a mental abnormality that needs concrete attention and consistent follow-up and treatments, the recent argument has risen in order to provide an alternative view that suggests that it is in fact all a biological defense mechanism integrated within us.
While this argument may sound quite new and people may not really be convinced with it, there have been various arising researches from the medical community that can support this claim. Being said that, this will not only change our perspective and how we look at mental health issues but probably help us approach it better, and surely treat it more adequality.
1. New ideas in the medical community
While science and medicine are altogether witnessing rapid and beneficial changes that will help us to understand certain maladies better and treat them in a more efficient way, depression is also considered as being one of the most serious issues many people from all walks of life may deal with at some point in their lives.
Recent researches have suggested that depression, unlike what we have been thinking, is not a simple mental illness, rather it is an adaptive mechanism and a biological response that helps us survive and overcome various obstacles we keep facing every now and then.
A report has been recently published by the British Psychological Society indicating that depression is in fact considered to be a single or a group of different experiences that altogether help us, in a way or another, to survive.
Not only this but also, there have been also a considerable rise of a new theory namely the “Polyvagal Theory” that suggests that our Automatic Nervous System referred to by the acronym “ANS” is playing a hugely significant role within our biological defense strategy that helps us to be shielded at the moment where our bodies and psyches may be under threat.
2. Psychological immobilization
When it comes to understating how does depression actually saves us and may benefit us in the long run, we can refer to the theory coined by Stephen Porges, A Ph.D. psychologist that coined the “Polyvagal Theory”. In plain terms, the theory suggests that the Automatic Nervous System is constantly scanning for external threats that may affect us at any point in our daily lives.
When it detects none, the body will biologically react by a sense of well-being, rest, and comfortability. However, where there is actually an external irritant, it could be an event, an issue that happened at work or at school, the Automatic Nervous System will start then reacting and initiating a fight or flight strategy, and that is what we call, anxiety.
Unlike what many of us may believe that depression actually starts in the mind and they manifests certain bodily symptoms. The “Polyvagal Theory” actually suggested a backward track and another explanation for all the parts involved. In plain terms, the Polyvagal Theory suggests that it is our body that detects the dangers, the threats, or the irritants that we keep facing and then initiate a defense strategy that comes in translated as symptoms such as headaches, night sweats, and fatigues that are all in all linked to depression. And this process is called immobilization.
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3. How does immobilization benefit us?
At the onset of a traumatic event or a depressive state, our Automatic Nervous System will start detecting and sensing that there are some sorts of irritants and threats that the body is being projected to. At this time, immobilization kicks in.
It is very common that people who are dealing with depression would feel disconnected, tired, unmotivated, and sluggish. In fact, that is all a part of our body´s defense mechanism. At this point, the body will start to decrease the metabolism rate and put it in a resting stage which will then make the body feel heavy, tired, or even cause the person to faint and lose consciousness.
This process by which we refer to as immobilization is quite beneficial to the body since it does help us to preserve the organism in our bodies. And it comes in as a later stage when the fight strategy we call anxiety is no longer beneficial to our bodies and there is no way that the body can go with it any longer. As humans, we are too a part of the natural system, and it is no coincidence that animals too go through this process.
To explain more, animals are shutting down when they are being eaten by other savage animals. They mainly shut down as not to suffer more. And fortunately, we humans, our bodies would go through the same process so that we will suffer less, react better, and maintain our bodies healthy as much as possible. And during this period, it is quite normal to feel certain unexplained bodily reactions, at all times, it is just our bodies reacting and fighting for us.
4. So, is depression really that helpful?
Now that you have read this, you might be wondering about the fact that depression, after all, is not something that bad, and chances are, we have had a long time misunderstanding it and therefore failing to approach it properly.
As Porges explains, it is all within us, it is our bodies that react whether with a fight or flight strategy or with an immobilization state, it is the body that tries to protect us, make us survive, and cope with the newly irritants at all costs even though if it costed it to lower our emotional performance.
Hence, it is not all bad, it is all an experience by which we grow, learn, and become even more prepared for future threats. Adaption has been in our genes since the earliest development of humankind and it just amazing how can our bodies fight for us and teach us how to survive.
According to Porges. There is a cure and it is all found in human connection. Instead of feeling afraid, shameful, and worried to speak out due to the stigma depressed people get to be a victim of. A better alternative would to let the burden off, speak about it, learn from other people and make our cases more manageable through social connections that will surely help us greatly to fight even more and survive at all costs.
I wish you peace and health, and I want you to remember that you are worthy, you are loved, and you are enough.
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