A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?

From time to time, I write about depression and anxiety. I know that it is not the most positive topic, but it is something I think about. I try to understand it and I want to find means how to combat and alleviate it. At the moment, I have two opposing thoughts in my mind. On the one hand, I am certain that we need to shed more light onto this topic and create a public discussion, because I think this is something only all of us together can solve. On the other hand, I fear that when people read about it, that they look for signs they have depression.

Let us create a fictional character called Peter. Peter is a young and intelligent person who likes to ask a lot of question and who is generally curious. Unfortunately, Peter suffered a huge loss in his private life and he feels hopeless and lacks meaning. In the past, he was full of ambition and had a lot of ideas. Now, he is questioning whether he will get back to normal. As he is curious and wants to understand, he asks a lot of questions to find a remedy or an explanation why he feels the way he does. He reads and hears about depression and at first, he might think that it doesn’t apply to him. However, the more he reads the easier it is for him to see the signs. After a while he is afraid that he has an undiagnosed mental disorder. After another while he is convinced he has one.

Now, please ask yourself how likely such a scenario is. It is only a scenario. What I fear is that this happens a lot. That if we focus too much on it, we create a self-fulfilling prophecy. I read that medicine students face a similar problem. Once they have to do research about certain diseases, they think that they have this disease. Our brain is trying to prevent us from ignoring a potential threat and we jump on every little hint that supports the theory that we have this disease.

I think that once we are trapped in this circle of doubt whether we suffer from depression we are already in danger to get into a downward spiral, because we look for hints and clues that we suffer from depression. The problem is that many characteristics are things we all experience. We all feel down during some days and sometimes it is difficult to see the silver lining.

What I want to add to this discussion is that we should also look for signs that contradicts the theory of having a depression. I don’t say that there is no such thing as depression on the contrary. I just think that sometimes we add to this negative spiral and we end up having one. I know it is harder to look for the positive during difficult times. I just think we need to add optimism to build resilience. Be cautious not only of the positive but also of the negative. Be your own researcher and research subject. Don’t take anything for face value. Especially when it comes to depression and its symptoms. A good researcher always tries to disprove his assumption. If you have the assumption that you suffer from depression, try to disprove it. Look for the positive signs and don’t brush them away easily. We are very good at focusing on the negative. Try to find a healthy balance.

I am really not sure about this. What do you think?

 

Stephan

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