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5 Things that Could Easily Lead to Depression

5 Things that Could Easily Lead to Depression

Depression is the demon everybody is scared of. As scary as it sounds, depression is a health condition that is real and common. A lot of people are currently dealing with depression — the very few that know how to manage it share how to deal with it, while the rest are slowly being consumed by it.

Trust me, avoiding things that could easily lead to depression is an easier fight to win than having to deal with depression itself. Unfortunately, we live in a world where glamour and instant gratification are the order of the day. Having it rubbed in everybody’s faces on glittery snaps and grams does little to help the situation. For instance, a survey that polled 1,787 millennials showed that participants who used social media heavily had 2.7 times likelihood of depression.

While this is not to discourage young adults from using social media, these platforms are great for several reasons such as connecting with people and discovering great products and services. Rather, like the other habits that would be examined in this article, unhealthy use of social media can also increase your likelihood of depression.

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1. Comparing Yourself to Others

It’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others when all you see around you make you feel insignificant and unsuccessful. This is the consequence of over-exposure to unrealistic portrayal of life by seemingly successful others who have cultivated the culture of using material things to mask their real problems.

Millennials have it worse. Another research that points that millennials have higher rates of depression reveals that at least 1 in 5 young workers have experienced on-the-job depression.

Depression is likely to set in when people begin to compare themselves to others who have things they do not have.

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2. Setting Unreasonable Goals

It’s a good thing to set goals. But make sure your goals are realistic and achievable within the timeframe you’ve given yourself to achieve those goals. Setting high expectations and working hard to attain goals that are difficult, but doable, brings satisfaction. But when the line between challenging goals crosses to unreasonable and unattainable expectations, the likelihood of getting depressed becomes increased.

People that do not know how to deal with failure will easily become depressed when they realize the goal they’ve set is not within reach. A more effective strategy to make every goal attainable is to break it down to stages and give yourself a mental timeline of when you’re expected to complete each level.

By breaking down goals into smaller chunks, you’re not only going to keep depression away but will easily become successful in attaining your goal.

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3. Drugs

Depression and abusive use of drugs are common. Use and abuse of recreational drugs have always been linked to depression, but it’s not just recreational drugs that can lead to depression. While changes in mood and loss of energy – which are all signs of depression are often noticed in people who use recreational drugs such as heroin and cannabis, several medical drugs have also been linked to depression in patients.

For example, Pradaxa, a medical drug used for prevention of blood clots, is notorious for having several side effects which include depression. Even seemingly innocuous medications come with side effects that cause depression – thus for some conditions, natural remedies may be a better option.

4. Abusive Relationships

Psychologists have linked domestic abuse to depression. And abuse can come in several forms: emotional, verbal, psychological, etc.

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The case for abuse and how it leads to depression is complex, as both share similar symptoms. What is scarier is the fact that most victims keep quiet about the cause of their depression – the abuser. And in cases where the victims do cry out, it’s already too late. If you’re in a relationship and you’re seeing signs of abuse, depending on the position of the abuser in your life, consulting an expert together or making a report against them should not scare you. What should scare you is the damage this person can cause.

5. Refusing to Grow Up

Helicopter parenting and late financial independence of millennials are leading culprits here. For many – especially millennials, growing up means being an adult and facing the real life responsibilities, something today’s generation still think is a role that belongs to their parents.

A Washington Post story blames depression among millennials on their parents. Today’s generation of adults are at risk of growing into their late thirties while still relying on their parents. Combating depression in millennials and the younger generation is a job that lies on both themselves and their parents.

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

How to Tap into Your Right Brain’s Potential

How to Tap into Your Right Brain’s Potential

You may have heard someone say they are “totally right brained” or that they’re “a left brained person.”

There is a pervasive myth that’s been making its rounds for over a century: people have two hemispheres of their brains, and if they have a dominant left brain, they’re more analytical; and if they have a dominant right brain, they are more creative.

Before we go debunking this theory and then giving some tips for how people can access their creative brain centers, let’s first take a look at where the left brain/right brain lateralization theory comes from.

The Left Brain/Right Brain Lateralization Theory

In the 1800s, scientists discovered that when patients injured one side of their brains, certain skills were lost.[1] Scientists linked those different skills to one side of the brain or the other. Thus began the left brain/right brain myth that continues to this day.

Then, in the 1960s and 70s, Roger W. Sperry led 16 operations that cut the corpus callosum (the largest region that connects both brain hemispheres together) in order to try to treat patients’ epilepsy. Sperry wrote about the differences in the two hemispheres as a result of those surgeries.[2]

Sperry’s work was popularized in 1973 with a New York Times article about his lateralization theory—that people were either right brained (read: logical) or left brained (read: creative). From here, Sperry won the Nobel Prize for his work and numerous other publications spread the right brain/left brain myth.

Debunking the Right Brain/Left Brain Myth

If anything, the lateralization theory of the brain is a gross exaggeration. It is true that people have two hemispheres of their brains. It is also true that there are differences in the composition of those two hemispheres.

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However, the hemispheres are actually much more interconnected than Sperry’s work initially made it seem.

In a 2013 study,[3] scientists scanned over 1000 people’s brains, checking for lateralization. They confirmed that certain brain functions occur predominately in one hemisphere or the other but that, in reality, the brain is actually much more interconnected and complex than the right brain/left brain lateralization theory makes it seem.[4][5]

A New Metaphor for Right Brain/Left Brain

How do we get past this right brain/left brain myth?

First, let’s look at what contemporary cognitive science says about brain regions, and creative and logical modes of thinking.

My background is as an improviser and improv researcher. I wrote Theatrical Improvisation, Consciousness, and Cognition and think looking at improvisation and the brain can shed light on a new model for talking about unlocking the brain’s creative potential.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) brain scans have shown that while trained improvisers improvise (musically on a keyboard, rapping, and comedic improvisation) an interesting shift happens in their brain activity. [6]

A region called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex decreases in activity and creative language centers such as the medial prefrontal cortex increase in activity. The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is linked with conscious thoughts—that inner voice that tells you not to say something or criticizes you when you do.

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The medial prefrontal cortex is among the brain regions linked with creativity. So, instead of thinking about right brain and left brain, perhaps it’s more current and correct to think about more specific brain regions instead of hemispheres. Perhaps, it’s more useful to think about which activities and strategies will allow us to inhibit our dorsolateral prefrontal cortexes and allow our medial prefrontal cortexes to flourish.

How to Enhance Your “Right Brain” — Creativity

Whether we’re talking about right brain versus left brain, creative versus logical, or medial prefrontal cortex versus dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, we still know enough to talk about strategies to tap into your creative brain’s full potential.

So, now that we’ve dispelled the right brain/left brain myth and looked at a more contemporary, cognitive neuroscience theory of brain regions and creativity centers, let’s look at how to tap into the potential of your creative brain.

1. Performing Arts

One way to tap into your creative brain centers is to participate in the performing arts. Whether you improvise, act, or dance, the performing arts allow you an embodied experience that will help you snap out of your habitual, logical thoughts.

Another benefit of the performing arts is that it changes your attention. Attention and creativity are inextricably linked. When we improvise, act, or dance, we have to focus intently on our fellow performers. This means we are forced to focus less on our conscious, logical thoughts. This frees us up for more creative thinking and expression.[7]

One of the conclusions of my research on improvisation is that focusing intensely on fellow improvisers and the task at hand makes it more likely that we experience a flow state. Dr. Csikszentmihalyi,[8] a Professor of Psychology and Management defines flow as an optimal psychological state when our skills match the difficulty of the task at hand. Our perception of time is altered as we get into the zone and become more present and in the moment during our chosen activity.[9]

A flow state is a creative state. It’s the opposite of crunching numbers and forcing ourselves to work out a problem with the conscious regions of our brain. So, get up, improvise, act, or dance to access your creativity.

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2. Visual Art

Art teacher Betty Edwards[10] wrote a book called Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. Here again, we see that a shift in our attention can lead us to an increase in our creative thinking.

Edwards’ book gives art students tricks to shift the way they see the world. For example, one exercise encourages students to literally flip whatever it is they’re drawing upside down before they draw it. This forces budding artists to literally see the object in a new way. This shift allows them to focus more on the individual components and patterns of the object, which allows them to draw it better.

Shifting how we see things is another way we can access our creative brain centers. Take an art class to shut off your conscious, critical thoughts and start seeing things from a new, more creative perspective.

3. Zone Out

If there’s one thing creativity doesn’t like, it’s being coerced.

I think we’ve all felt that awful feeling of trying to force ourselves to be creative. When we force it, we’re really trying to force our logical brain regions to be creative. It’s like asking your gardener to perform your appendix surgery. It’s just not what she does.

Instead, stop forcing it. Take a break. Take a long walk or a relaxing bath or shower. Let your mind wander.

Whatever you do, stop forcing it. This break lets your creative centers rise to the surface of your attention and get heard.

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4. Practice Mindfulness

The final trick to start accessing your so-called right brain is to practice mindfulness.

Now, there’s a lot of different ways to go about mindfulness. You can take a more physical approach with a yoga class. Or you can try meditating to become more aware and in tune with your thoughts and feelings: Meditation for Beginners: How to Meditate Deeply and Quickly

You could also try to incorporate fun mindfulness exercises[11] into your everyday routine like forcing yourself to go on detours or pretending you’re a detective who needs to examine people and places closely.

Any way you do it, mindfulness exercises and training can help you become better versed in how your brain works and what your normal thought process is like on a day-to-day basis. If we’re ever going to reach our optimal creativity, we have to become an expert in how our individual brain functions. Mindfulness is one way to become your very own brain expert.

Mindfulness also has added benefits like calming us, slowing our breathing, and helping us become more observant, which are also great ways to start tapping into our creative potential.

Final Thoughts

So, it may not be correct to say that our right brain is our creative brain, but it is still a valid pursuit to try to optimize our creative brain centers.

The key to do so is to relax, become observant, shift your perspective, move your body, try something new, and, whatever you do, don’t force it.

Creativity can feel slippery. It can abandon us when we need it most, but by slowing down and looking at things from a new perspective, we can give ourselves a better chance of tapping into our ultimate creativity, even if that doesn’t exactly mean our “right brain.”

More Tips on Boosting Creativity

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

Reference

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