Depression and Work
The comedian Bo Burnham once said “Once a week, I like to slip into a deep existential depression where I lose all my sense of oneness and self-worth.” While this comedic take on such a serious issue may be classed as bloodless and lowbrow, many fail to realize that every joke is inspired by the truth in some way. Out of the many quotes on depression these words from Bo Burnham were just one of the many examples of comedian’s grim interpretation of depression. In the western world the terms depression and work are almost interchangeable. As the forty hour work week came into prominence during the industrial revolution, depression rates have been steadily climbing. When the depression rates between developed and developing nations are compared one might make the case that depression is a “disease of affluence”.
(1) It has been known that the citizens of wealthy nations live a more sedentary lifestyle, eat more processed foods, and are forced to build their lives on the evenings and weekends. With that sort of mental and physical strain it’s no wonder that the amount of people suffering from major depression has multiplied by ten since 1945. With this information known, Bo Burnham’s quote seems more relatable with the world’s population coagulating into larger and larger cities. Viewing an aerial shot of Mississauga’s Square One shopping mall in the 80’s and trying to find parking there now can put it into a better perspective. A possible solution to this predictable rise in depression rates would be to rethink our economic infrastructure.
The average person probably wouldn’t enjoy giving up the comforts of modern society for embracing the lifestyle of our ancestors but small steps can be made within reason. For example during your lunch break eating your lunch outside and getting some vitamin d is a much better choice than eating your bodily fuel indoors. Another simple step would be to sneak a nap in whenever necessary, this one may not be the easiest to pull off but the connection between sleep quality and depression are as clear as day. It has been estimated that 90% of patients with depression complain about sleep quality.
(2) The weapons we unknowingly use against ourselves are probably worst when dealing with our amount of sedentary activity in the workplace.
(3) A primary school named Belle Terre elementary school in the Flagler county school district of Florida even went as far as introducing standing desks to combat the sedentary norm of western culture. When the average person sits an estimated eight hours a day depression is pretty much an expectation. About the same way you expect a person who refuses to eat to starve. To stave off depression in an environment ripe for its growth, you don’t have to grow a beard and go live in the forest. Instead choosing to take a few simple steps in the direction of our basic environmental needs will yield the fortifications-of-self needed to handle a western culture based on consumerism.