Depression is Caused by Ignorance, Not Brain Disease

I am a board-certified cognitive behavioral therapist so people ask my advice about depression all the time. I heard from a man recently whose wife is suffering from depression. She is on medication and is quite convinced by her doctor that she needs it to remain comfortable. She just wanted a suggestion for some meditation or hypnosis tapes so she could relax better.

The man said that his wife was helped by my website but had never read either of my two books, and was not interested in reading any more information about depression.

He asked my advice and I said to just get her some meditation or hypnosis tapes as she had obviously (to me) decided to be emotionally dependent rather than be a free person who was in charge of her own mind, as evidenced by the fact that she was not interested in any more information.

Perhaps that was a little harsh on my part (maybe I was miffed that she had dismissed my books), for the man quickly responded that she was a very intelligent woman who had a professional career.

I think he said that to convince me that her position about the necessity of her struggle with depression and being on medication had to be legitimate, and must be respected, because she was so smart, and therefore didn’t need any more information.

Being depressed is not a matter of intelligence. It is a matter of education and mind set. If you are ignorant about how your own brain works, you will unwittingly be giving it wrong instructions when you are in the throes of a deep depression, or under great stress. That’s because if you don’t know how the brain works, you will be convinced that you have to BE depressed, or stressed and you will keep on thinking about your depression and your stress.

You will not believe that you can simply direct your brain to think some other thoughts besides depression and anxiety, and if you think some other non-emotional thoughts, both depression and stress will go away. This is because the brain always follows the direction of its most current dominant thought. And by changing your thoughts, the brain will stop following the depressive or stressful neural patterns, and start following the new more productive neural patterns you have chosen. Then depression and stress will stop.

It is a fact of life that a lot of intelligent people are depressed. Similarly, a lot of smart doctors and surgeons, before a doctor’s assistant named Semmelweiss tried to change their minds in 1847, did not believe they should wash the blood off their hands between operations.

Semmelweiss tried to convince the doctors and surgeons in his hospital to wash their hands and maintain antiseptic conditions during surgical procedures. Although he never saw any microbes himself, Semmelweiss deduced, from mere personal observation, that blood seemed to be a carrier of disease. Semmelweiss used to yell at the doctors parading in their bloody aprons from patient to patient “You are killing the patients.”

What did the doctors do about this upstart? They had him committed to an insane asylum where he subsequently died.

These doctors were not stupid. They were uninformed, ignorant, (ignorant is not the same thing as unintelligent) and convinced in their minds that bloody aprons were not dangerous, but rather a badge of honor for their profession. They were the authority of medical knowledge, and coming from their great position of authority as chief surgeons, etc., they also came from a position of certainty.

When people come from a mind set of certainty, they do not bother with any information to the contrary of that position of certainty. This is the case of people that are convinced they cannot control their own depression, anxiety, panic attacks, claustrophobia, mania, etc. And most medical doctors, psychologists, and psychiatrists feed this belief. Indeed, one has to assume that they believe it as well themselves rather than they are just trying to make money from other people’s agony.

I don’t know why some people are open to new information and other people are not. It is a complete mystery to me. Those who educate themselves can learn how to get out of depression, anxiety, insomnia and a host of other things that people who think they have enough knowledge already, thank you very much, will be taking medication for for the rest of their lives. Perhaps this is a harsh thing to say but there is nothing more harsh than suffering helplessly from depression and anxiety when you can educate yourself out of that helplessness by learning how your own brain works.