This is a question I get asked a lot.  How can I be happy when my kids have left home / I’ve lost my job/ I’m getting divorced / I feel so ill / I’m stressed.  And having read some stats the other day about happiness and its alter ego, depression, frankly it scared me.

Here I’d like to share some of the information:

  • 1 in 2 people in England are taking some form of prescribed drug.

Prescriptions for antidepressants have more than doubled since 2006 and figures show 1 in 10 people in England are taking them (women are twice as likely to have been prescribed them than men).

Does that mean women are more depressed than men? Well maybe not

  • 6,213 people in the UK and The Republic of Ireland took their own life in 2017.
  • 75% of them were men.
  • Whilst the suicide rate has fallen slightly in England, it has risen 12% in the last year in Wales, and the rates among teenage girls particularly are at an all time high.
  • For women in general the highest rate of suicide though is in the 50-54 years age group
  • For men it is 45-49.

So maybe the men don’t want to speak about their problem and when it all gets too much, they just want it to end it?  And women go to the doctor to talk about it and get “help” with tablets??

According to an article earlier this month by Nancy Schimelpfening states:

“it’s been found that women are roughly three times more likely to attempt suicide, though men are around three times more likely to die from suicide”

So, maybe the methods of suicide that men choose are far more final: firearms, hanging and jumping to name a few. Whereas women choose self-poisoning, my Grandma took weed killer and my Auntie starved herself to death after the council compulsorily purchased the home she had worked all her life to buy. And at one stage in my life I also tried to end the pain of feeling out of control, stressed and pressured by taking an overdose. I am very grateful that I was found and saved.

However, it is the facts around pills that shocked me most, even more than the information around suicide.

I’m not sure how to interpret the figures. I mean are there more prescriptions for antidepressants because the medical profession is getting better at noticing and diagnosing, or because more people are getting depressed every year?  I have no idea, but what I do know is the antidepressants are not the answer.  And if you look on the NHS website they even state, “it’s not known exactly how antidepressants work”.

Now don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying there aren’t circumstances where pills should be used.  However, what I do believe is that, like any medicines, they treat the symptoms but not the cause. They are simply masking a problem and like rising damp in a wall.  It doesn’t matter how much paint, wallpaper or furniture you put in front of it …it’s always going to be there.

So, the question is why aren’t people happy?  What are the causes of depression?  Well, the NHS will tell you there is no known cause but many risk factors.  It can be triggered by a life event, a death, divorce, empty nest syndrome, job loss.  It can be triggered by illness, low self-esteem, addiction to drugs or alcohol (ask me how I know about the latter).  Sometimes it can be brought on by loneliness, giving birth, a relationship breakdown, or a family history of depression.  Or it can often be a combination of all these things.

The constantly ‘on’ feeling of our current lives with 24/7 social media, news coverage (nearly all bad), and digital devices being always on, has been shown to increase anxiety.

My belief is that taking pills makes you feel numb and doesn’t address the thing or things that cause the depression in the first place and hold the press ..some anti-depressant tablets themselves carry an increased risk of suicide – like WTF!!

I was reading yesterday about a Shaman from a west African tribe, who was talking about their understanding of mental illness.  They see it from another perspective.  They believe it is a transformation of human consciousness and an inevitable step in the evolution of the human race.  Dr. Some explains that what we in the West call mental illness, the Dagara people see as messages from another world, and that someone we would see as severely mentally ill, they honour as the birth of a healer.

Interesting change in perspective. Oh, and just a side note, none of the Dagara people are on anti-depressants. They’re a happy lot!

It’s an interesting concept and goes back to something else that is very important when trying to answer the question, ‘How Can I Be Happy’.  The Dagara people have a purpose.  They believe they are spiritual beings here on earth for a reason; to bring harmony and joy to the earth and thereby enhance their own spiritual being.

Interestingly, there is a certain age when you have been through most of life’s emotional journey of ups and downs for example the highs of love, having children, work & personal achievements and the downs of death, failures and loss.  And it’s at this stage that I believe you start asking those deeper questions like, “Is this all there is to life?” or “Why am I here?”.

And here is when you can choose to live with the feeling of void/Groundhog Day or you can choose (like the Dagara people do) to be happy, to transform your human consciousness and take an inevitable step in your evolution.

Because when you have a purpose and you focus on that purpose rather than about what’s missing in your life, I believe you can be less prone to depression.

So if you have reached a stage of life where you are asking the question, how can I be happy when….., the main thing is not to feel like you have to figure it out on your own or indeed do it alone, perhaps it is time to uncover your purpose.  Time to Find Your WHY.

And if you haven’t already got it – click here to get a free copy of our book “Find Your WHY to become Frickin’ Awesome’, which might help you as a first step on that journey.  (Being upfront we just ask for a small contribution to shipping and handling).

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