As more and more scientific evidence is constantly bubbling to the surface of our mainstream news that suggests depression is a highly biologically-caused maledy, there are still convincing clues that propose that depression is as environmentally-induced as ever. Our environment causing depression is a terrifying concept, but an extremely probable reason for our problems regarding mood. It’s hard to admit to ourselves that our surrounding environment – whether that be our friends, family, location, career, or overall lifestyle- could be the problem. However, our environment causing our depression isn’t just possible- it’s probable, and it should probably be the first thing examined when someone seeks help for their depression.
Although many, countless types of environmental factors can cause someone to feel depressed or even to eventually develop Major Depressive Disorder, there are some large categories of culprits that we’ve been able to pinpoint here for you.
How healthy are your relationships, really? We aren’t referring to relationships that are solely romantic, either. Any relationship with a family member, friend, coworker, supervisor, mentor, or romantic partner can be negatively or positively affecting your state of mind.
Humans are highly social creatures. This, alone, is practically the only reason we’ve been able to survive and evolve up to the point that we have – the ability to work in teams and the biological programming we possess in our brains for the love and affection from other human beings. This need is so strong that loneliness can actually affect us physically.
Making sure our relationships are not toxic, abusive, or regressive is extremely important to our mental health. If you’re being psychologically abused, for example, you may be questioning your reality and perspective. This type of questioning can cause a quiet desperation. Before deeming depression solely chemically-induced, first rule out this factor.
Having healthy friendships filled with love, support, gentleness, and openness, is incredibly important to emotional survival. Life is hard, we know. The whole point is that we don’t have to do it alone. If someone is not surrounded by a group of close, supportive, and understanding individual
Another relationship that we musn’t forget to include or encourage you to address in this section is your relationship with yourself. How kind are you, to you? How critical, unforgiving, or cynical are you to your mistakes? Do you dwell on your mistakes or even punish yourself? Are you highly perfectionistic? Do you neglect your needs, do you even know what your needs are? How well do you know yourself?
Without understanding how to identify the type of relationship we have with ourselves, why we have this particular (often complicated) relationship, and the ways it may be unconducive to our growth in all areas of our lives, we cannot fully and thoroughly understand the relationships we have with other people.
All of our relationships begin with how we treat ourselves, the stories we tell ourselves about who we are, and the views we have of ourselves and the world around us (which, by the way, is formed mostly by the reactions and social cues we got developing since childhood). So start with taking a hard look at yourself, then have the bravery to see all of the other relationships in your life clearly and assess how they may be breaking your mental or emotional health.
A poor diet is also one of the leading causes of depression, whether anyone wants to face it or not. Fast food is everywhere, and sugar is practically as addictive as nicotine, so it isn’t hard to slip into an unhealthy way of nourishing our bodies. Pesticides, chemicals, unknown additives, and hormones that are in foods can also affect us all differently, individually. The reason it’s hard to look at our diets as a cause of our depression is because it truly does take a lot of energy to change our ways of eating- at first. It can seem overwhelming to try to avoid all of these potentially mood-lowering qualities that the wrong foods can possess, but just as all habits have the potential to become natural eventually, educating yourself on what types of foods to buy and eat, and sticking to this diet, can absolutely prove successful.
Your career is where you spend the majority of your waking time. If parts of your job are toxic, it can cause you to become depressed before you even realize it. Whether the culprit is too-long hours, no work-life balance, poor boundaries, or all of the above (and more!), toxic work environments can cause us to really dread waking up in the morning to face the day ahead of us – and this is a feeling that no human should have to face. Even if you feel trapped in your current position, it’s important you face what your job may be doing to you, how it makes you feel about yourself, whether it drains you or fulfills you, and whether you need to make any changes.
Not feeling like you are valued, appreciated, and utilized to your fullest potential in your current work position can be one of the most detrimental factors that contribute to your mental health. In fact, lack of appreciation and poor management are one of the number one reasons people leave their current position, as opposed to seeking better pay. Although you may feel trapped at a job because of financial uncertainty, it is still possible to develop a plan for a change if that is what you decide that you need.
All in all, it’s extremely important that if you are depressed that you (absolutely) seek help for your mental anguish. Depression is a debilitating and sometimes terrifying condition that can cause you to truly question everything in your life. However, before anything else, it’s also important to take a look a look at your environment. Factors from your career, to your relationships, and even your diet and nutrition can be negatively affecting your mental space and emotional peace.