learned helplessness

One’s emotions are linked to his or her beliefs. Being preoccupied with the unhappy aspects of life – discontentment towards oneself, a negative opinion on life events and a bleak outlook of the future – would make one depressed. Hence, being depressed is not the primary illness; it is the secondary manifestation of a negative belief system. Those who consider the glass as half empty are more likely to be depressed.

Depressed individuals show the traits of learned helplessness and learned hopelessness. Those with learned helplessness think that that distressing encounters will persist and haunt them for life. They eventually succumb to the immense pressure accumulated from their early years to their adult lives, becoming depressed and hopeless about facing life’s challenges on their own.

Cognitive theorists propose that adopting a negative stance on life is the precursor to becoming depressed. Doing so causes people to repeatedly go through their beliefs and behaviors, perceiving each incident to be negative and in line with their depressed outlook. Meanwhile, they cast aside situations that are not negative. Those who are depressed continually wallow in self-destruction and loss of self-esteem, which is the vicious cycle to being depressed in the long term.

To further elaborate, psychoanalysis, the study of the mind and the treatment of mental illnesses contended that psychological disorders are the result of subconscious opposition of human instincts and the human conscience. For instance, primitive sexual wants when unmet makes one depressed and possibly even more dejected when it results in unrestrained action. Freud first suggested that individuals tend to hide their primitive sexual wants by adopting “defense mechanisms” specific to their own personality. He concluded that the inability of defense mechanisms to restrain the unintentionally created anxiety is what makes people depressed.

The theory also suggested that mourning over a loved one’s demise, both consciously and subconsciously, can make one depressed. Being separated from a loved one during one’s formative years makes the individual more susceptible to becoming depressed when further separations occur in the future. These depressed people have diminished self-esteem – the result of the clash between their expectations and reality.

Essentially, psychoanalysis argues that failure to come to terms with substantial losses and to control anxiety results in one being depressed.