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Alienation Induced By Capitalism Is The Main Cause Of Depression

By Dr. Sawraj Singh

Depression is the most common illness affecting mankind. About 10% of the world population is suffering from depression. However, the real incidence may be much higher because many people suffering from depression do not seek medical help. Moreover, symptoms of depression can be very difficult to diagnose. Therefore, many cases are never diagnosed and are never counted. Depression can mimic many other diseases. Many patients end up being treated for other conditions such as musculoskeletal or gastrointestinal disorders. Even though depression has been with us since the ancient times, like melancholia in the ancient Greek society, yet it is capitalism which brought epidemic of depression. Hundreds of millions people are suffering from depression and it has become the main cause of disability in the world today.

I feel that the main reason for this epidemic is alienation of men from nature, society, family and one’s true self brought about by capitalism. Modern man is not only alienated from nature, society and family but the worst thing is that he is alienated from self. This results in his being lost, confused and scared. He has not only, for all practical purpose, lost support from society and family but has also lost his inner strength to cope with the ever increasing stress of the modern capitalist society. When our social and family structures were intact then a person’s problem were shared by family and society. However, that support has been now lost. When our social structure and family relations were intact, an individual’s problems were diluted. However, now we have lost that dilution factor and individual’s problems are concentrated and magnified. Inability to cope with stress induced by capitalist society is the main cause of depression epidemic.

Capitalism has made people extremely individualistic, self centered and selfish. Radical egalitarianism is another big problem.  Many People do not care about age, seniority, educational level or other achievements of a person and say that all are equal. If we say that all people are created equal then that is a good general statement. However, generality is one aspect. Peculiarity is the other aspect which we are almost completely ignoring. People should be treated equally and with respect. However, people also deserve recognition for their achievements. When people do not get recognition which they deserve then that can lead to frustration. Frustration can also lead to depression.

Confucius emphasized maintaining discipline and order in the society. However, in the modern capitalist society, there is almost complete chaos and anarchy because of lack of discipline and order in the society. This leads to social instability which leads to feeling of insecurity. Frustration, instability and insecurity all lead to depression. Capitalism promotes the concept that we should live to fulfill our desires rather than live to meet our needs. Desires cannot be defined. Therefore, they cannot be fulfilled. Unfulfilled desires are the main case of suffering in the capitalist society.

People want to become rich in the shortest time possible. However, many do not make it. They are very unhappy because of their failure. Those who succeed live under constant fear that they may lose what they have gained. Fear, anxiety and insecurity push many people in to depression.

Exercise, meditation and increased social interaction all help to prevent depression and if people go into depression then they will recover sooner. Radical individualism and egalatarianism should be replaced by collective perspective and giving respect to others which they deserve. Finally, ending your alienation by getting connected to your true self and finding purpose of your life is the best antidote for depression.

Dr. Sawraj Singh, MD F.I.C.S. is the Chairman of the Washington State Network for Human Rights and Chairman of the Central Washington Coalition for Social Justice. He can be reached at sawrajsingh@hotmail.com.

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