Depression

Why are some people so affected by stress?

Why are some people so affected by stress?
YELLOW PEOPLE AND BLUE PEOPLE

Summary:  Is depression a moral weakness?  Certainly people who have never been depressed can easily make moral judgements about people with symptoms, thinking or saying things like “she just needs to get herself up and get going”.  And people with symptoms, whose very illness tends to cause thoughts like “I’m such a failure”, also can easily make moral judgements of themselves.  

Why are some people so affected by stress? 

YELLOW PEOPLE AND BLUE PEOPLE
 

Summary:  Is depression a moral weakness?  Certainly people who have never been depressed can easily make moral judgements about people with symptoms, thinking or saying things like “she just needs to get herself up and get going”.  And people with symptoms, whose very illness tends to cause thoughts like “I’m such a failure”, also can easily make moral judgements of themselves.  

Ironically, here you will see evidence that a single gene, completely outside a person’s control, has a strong impact on whether someone becomes depressed when repeatedly stressed.  At the end of this brief chapter, you’ll see that how a person was raised is another powerful factor, which is also completely out of one’s control as an adult.  However, people have to take responsibility for what’s going on now, regardless of their genes and their childhood.  Yet perhaps understanding the effect of genes and childhood will help people take that responsibility, as they will understand more clearly what they are trying to manage.  I hope that’s true, and offer these brief chapters for that purpose. 

Three Warnings:  

1) The research shown here is not conclusive.  The gene described here has been studied since at least 1998 and there are some studies that have not shown these kinds of results.  However, the trend, as studies are designed more precisely to show this kind of evidence, is strongly in the direction of the explanation below.  I think it’s time to let people know about this now, rather than wait for complete agreement amongst the researchers, because of the implications of the recent studies shown here. 

2) Although it appears that one gene has a lot of influence on what happens to people when they are stressed, you should not conclude “see, there’s nothing I can do about it!”  Just because we know a part of the cause of depression is beyond your control does not mean that the solution is beyond your control.  Indeed, perhaps knowing, at a biological level, that a big part of the problem is “not your fault”, might actually be part of the solution for you.   

3) Not all struggles in life have to do with the genetics shown below. In fact, many of them may be “life problems” that can occur for anyone, regardless of their genes. Worse yet, trying to fix these problems with medications; or view them as “biologic”, can actually get in the way of dealing with them.  For a perfect example, consider the story at the end of this mini-chapter.

Acknowledgement:  The research shown here is profoundly important, and we are thus indebted to those who produced it.  The reproduction of their work will hopefully only add to their deserved fame and respect, not rob from it.  If anyone objects to my use of their data as shown here, please let me know.  Links to the research papers are included in the text. 

In this chapter, we see in particular the work of Avshalom Caspi and his colleagues at the University of Wisconsin and the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Research Unit (DMHDRU).

Link to Chapter 2

psycheducation.org

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