Sunday, December 17

Money And Depression: Examining The Connection

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We go through life learning words, but we often forget to check back with our dictionary. The word “invariably” refers to something that is “constant, without change, without exceptions.” In depression, money can and does often influence a person’s mood. However, psychology has found that money is not as influential as people thought. Unsuprisingly, people living with extremely little income and support are more prone to depression and, in general, live less happier lives on average. However, the unhappiest people are actually those who are in between average and wealthy. They are, in theory, depressed because they aren’t wealthy. They’re second place in the race, so to speak, and they’re more upset because of this.

When people acquire wealth, they typically have an increase in happiness, but it’s well documented that their overall happiness typically goes back down over time. It usually ends up slightly higher than it was before, but it’s far from a significant difference. This means that most of us living with a moderate income aren’t going to achieve lifelong happiness from winning the lottery. I know people who make less than $50,000 a year who are happier than people making over $200,000. Money isn’t an accurate predictor of depression.

People also have a tendency to believe depression is always caused by circumstances. I’ve had a terrible time trying to explain my depression to people who find out. They always ask “what’s wrong with your life?” I have a few problems here and there, like most people, but many times in my life I’ve been depressed with a life many people would envy. Hemingway and his family are cited as a classic example of how depression can be genetic. If it’s genetic, it’s a situation where money isn’t the factor, necessarily.

If we turn back to our average case of depression, it’s difficult to determine what the root cause is. However, almost all people with depression can benefit from some lifestyle changes even if they don’t provide a cure alone. These changes might have nothing to do with money. Many people have careers where they make a moderate income, have job security, and don’t require much effort to complete their job. Depressed people can simply do their job in their sleep, sometimes, and this gives them little reason to worry about money. They might have a financially stable home life. Many depressed people isolate themselves socially and are unmotivated to spend money. Money is the last thing on my mind when my depression is at its worst, in many cases.

Next, I’ll explain something that’s difficult to explain for those who haven’t suffered depression, and it might vary from person to person how they experience depression. People tell me all the time they “know what depression is like.” I can never know for sure if they are telling the truth, but they generally suggest to me that have no idea what depression feels like. I’ve had sad moments in my life. I was miserable during my Grandfather’s funeral. Some people might seem it appropriate to say I was depressed then. In the casual sense of the word, I was. Clinically, it was something totally different. The feelings I experience when suffering from clinical depression are starkly different from the depression I might feel after experiencing a loss. Some people enter depression as a result of a loss, but that doesn’t mean that everyone who has went to a funeral of a loved one has “experienced depression.” I’m not saying depression is worse or better than the kind of sadness one experiences from deaths. They are both terrible in their own right.

The point is that everyday worries and sadness related to money generally aren’t “depression” the medical condition. They are depression “the feeling.” Given that this is a mental health forum, I am interpreting depression to mean the medical condition. But whether your talking about depression the feeling or depression the medical condition, it’s quite evident that money is a culprit in many situations. However, it’s certainly not invariably linked with depression, given the definition of the term “invariably” that I originally stated.

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