You might be evolution advanced if you’re suffering with depression.
Researchers at the University of Jena in Germany explain depression may be an adaptive behaviour of survival, especially when it comes to letting go of unattainable goals.
The one who gives up wins
“The one who gives up, wins,” said lead author Katharina Koppe “even if that sounds paradoxical at first.”
Koppe refers to the ability to disengage — an adaptive function of depression. For example, if the gap between our personal goal and our current possibilities is too wide, we would be better off looking for more realistic goals and letting go of the old one. From a psychological standpoint, this is a survival tactic.
Depression is evolution advanced
Previous research has found depression is an adaptive behavioural response in animals. Researchers repeatedly dropped mice into water, as their first response was to swim vigorously. However, after multiple immersions, they conserved energy by floating and doing minor motions to stay above water. If the mice continued to swim vigorously, their risk of drowning would escalate. This mechanism allowed the mice to survive.
The new study, published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, sought to examine whether symptoms of depression are an adaptive behavior that can lead to disengagement from unattainable goals. Koppe and her colleague Klaus Rothermund compared a group of depressive inpatients to a non-depressive control group in how much time they spent on unsolvable anagrams, while examining group difference in time spent on solvable anagrams. These are words in which the letters are in the wrong order, like the anagram SIEGOT should be rearranged to make EGOIST.
“These unsolvable tasks represented unattainable goals, which it was necessary to give up as soon as possible in order to use the time effectively,” said Koppe.
Patients with depression spent less time total on unsolvable anagrams compared to the control group. The time spent working on solvable tasks did not different between the two groups. The researchers note the test can not be equated to other challenges of daily life, but they do see the importance of how it can change our view of depression.
Abandoning unattainable goals is useful
The lack of motivation exhibited by many depressed patients when they abandon unattainable goals could potentially be used in therapy. Rothermund suggests doctors could help patients identify the unattainable goals that led to patients being depressed, and then support the patient by allowing them to disengage themselves from it.
“If we stop seeing depression simply as a psychological burden, which just needs to be removed through therapy, we might also be able to use the patient’s crisis as an opportunity for personal development,” said Koppe.
Depression may serve as a useful response to certain conditions, like disengaging from impossible goals. Some people develop depression due to their useless efforts of achieving over-ambitious life plans that are not feasible. However, the very same mechanism that helps us disengage could potentially inhibit the pursuit of any goal, even those easily attainable.
The main takeaway: letting go of the impractical can be liberating. This will open the door for new opportunities, and help prevent us from hitting a dead end. Our mental health will thank us later for giving it some rest.
Fight Work Depression
How to fight work depression talked about the chemical means of fighting depression at work. This infographic by Emily Johnson nicely summarizes that information.
Published originally by Emily Johnson
Fight The Work Depression
According to scientific research, the sequence of small failures can cause a stronger depression when compared with each high-stress factor taken separately. Since we spend about a half of life at work, where fails often happen, let’s see what we can do to lift the spirits at work, using nothing but the chemistry of our mood.
Recently, I’ve talked to my friend complaining about his bad mood at work. He told me about vain attempts to google for some tips and trying to follow given advice. Why were they vain? I asked him what the advice was, and some pieces were something like that:
- “Don’t set yourself up for expecting perfection.”
- “Start in the middle.”
- “Get in a routine.”
As you see, all the tips are
Yeah, you may say these tips come along with explanations, and this makes sense. However, they still leave much room for our subjective perception; so, it appears that the authors of that advice do nothing but try guessing the reasons of your depression. Fact: Nobody knows what’s there in your head, and that is why writers refer to abstract concepts and techniques. (I swear I won’t!) Funny thing, but probability theory works in favour of such “gurus”, leaving you two options:
- If you started feeling better, an article helped you.
- If not, it means you did something wrong.
And it’s difficult to prove you followed all the tips right. Why do such vague tips prosper?
- We are lazy. Reading some tips on the Internet is much easier than trying to analyze real-life problems. Even if those tips don’t help, a little distraction will postpone negative thoughts. People even ask Siri to help with depression!
- We enjoy feeling special and hard nuts to crack.
What is depression?
This term was first used by German psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin who characterized depression as the triad of symptoms:
- affective inhibition
- motoric inhibition
- ideational inhibition
In plain English, we feel sad, we think hard, and we poke along when depressed. You see, our inhibited functions are not unique: animals also go depressive, which is characterized by the same criteria; and it gives scientists the ability to analyze the depression phenomenon much more efficiently. Numerous scientific experiments show us that:
- depression is an ancient disorder;
- it works similarly for humans, cats, dogs, rats, and even birds;
- mechanisms used to beat depression are common, too.
Any examples needed? Let’s take a dog that has a depression-like state. It’s obvious that this dog can’t “set itself up for expecting perfection.” But, it’s scientifically proven that animals, as well as humans, have natural mechanisms for coping with depression. For example, a dog starts licking its hair to feel better. Simple as that! D’you want to find out how it works and if you can get in on the dog’s act of dealing with depression? Take a look at the infographic!
Reprinted with permission from Emily Johnson (Omni Papers)
As the days have gotten shorter and darker, many people experience seasonal depression. The less sunlight in combination with cold winter weather, many just want to stay indoors and put their head under their covers.
Are there any foods that could improve your mood?
For starters, starting off your day with breakfast is the best way to increase your alertness, energy and mood for the day. It’s easy to feel better in the morning if you jumpstart your day with breakfast. You will increase your chances of experiencing that same great feeling all day if you include these types of foods:
Foods such as chicken, fish, eggs, cheese, and lean beef can make you more alert, satisfied and energetic. My favorite type of protein is one that includes Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega- 3 fatty acids are mood boosters on their own. Studies show that people who eat Omega – 3 fatty acids (eggs, fish, and nuts…) have decreased incidence of depression. Choosing Omega-3 eggs are the best choice because they are the most absorbable protein to nourish your body, your mind, and satisfy your hunger. Walnuts and cashews are the best nuts to choose when feeling blue as they contain omega3 fatty acids and tryptophan (the precursor for serotonin- the happy neurotransmitter).
2. Complex Carbohydrates (whole grains)
Some of us, when we are depressed, reach for carbohydrates (breads, bagels, pasta); surprisingly there is a physiological reason for that and why we crave these types of foods. Complex carbohydrates such as whole grains can increase your serotonin levels to keep you calm. Perhaps reaching for these types of foods is our body’s way of instinctively trying to improve our mood. What’s interesting is one study on weight loss, showed that people on a low carb diet lost the same amount of weight as high carb dieters but were more irritable, negative and experienced overall bad mood. This is where the expression “hangry” comes from. So the next time you feel depressed, don’t beat yourself up too much for going for that bagel to boost your mood. Just don’t over indulge! Choosing a whole grain or flax seed bagel can make you feel great without the guilt.
3. Vitamin B12 and Folate (Folic Acid) are two vitamins that improve your mood
Folate is important for energy production in the body. Incorporating folate in your diet can increase your energy. You can find folate in fortified cereals, legumes, lentils, soybeans, and wheat germ. Vitamin B12 is also essential to combat fatigue and fight anemia. You can find it in shellfish, eggs, yogurt and cottage cheese.
4. The more color in your diet the better you will feel
Research shows that people who eat a plant based diet that includes a variety of fruits and vegetables are happier. The antioxidants and phytonutrients boost immunity, which allows your mind and body to remain healthy. Fighting off those free radicals is one way to fight depression. So enjoy your berries, melons and tomatoes all year around.
The last question, is what to brew?
5. Both green tea and coffee have mood boosting appeal
Studies show that people who drink green tea experience less symptoms of depression. Unfortunately, a person has to drink four cups per day to have the most benefits. Coffee, on the other hand, can boost your mood in just one cup. The drawback is that drinking too much coffee has been associated with anxiety and jitters.
May I suggest the next time you are feeling a lull in your day, try having whole grain crackers with light cream cheese and smoked salmon with a cup of green tea to boost your spirits.
Here’s to eating well.
Original post by Tracy Satov