Feeling depressed? Blame it in part on your modern life

As I sit here typing this, I am growing increasingly depressed. I long for physical activity and the feel of a fresh breeze on my cheek. Instead I am sedentarily positioned in a deserted corner of an office under artificial lights with my face shoved up to a computer monitor.

The downward spiral I experience each day as I sit all day at my desk tweeting, facebooking, surfing the net, (and of course doing my writing job), isn’t just in my imagination.

In a recent article in Newsweek, Dr. Andrew Weil, author of the book Spontaneous Happiness, explains that those who are living in industrialized nations in this Internet age are actually at higher risk for depression than those in poorer, less modern environments. He says we are experiencing a “nature-defecit,” and that as society immerses itself more and more in technology and other socially isolating activities, we are creating a fertile ground for depression.

When you think about it, even supposed “social” networking is many ways a form of social isolation. Sending tweets and commenting on Facebook posts is by no means as stimulating as actually going out and spending real time with a person.

The brains and bodies of humans — who evolved to thrive in nature and bond with others — are just not equipped for 21st Century life, says Weil.

More and more of us are sedentary, spending most of our time indoors. We eat industrial food much altered from its natural sources … We are deluged by an unprecedented overload of information and stimulation in this age of the Internet, email, mobile phones, and multimedia, all of which favor social isolation and certainly affect our emotional (and physical) health. Behaviors strongly associated with depression—reduced physical activity and human contact, overconsumption of processed food, seeking endless distraction—are the very behaviors that more and more people now can do, are even forced to do by the nature of their sedentary, indoor jobs.

To create a better balance, Dr. Weil recommends: “Increasing aerobic exercise, improving sleep, spending more time in the sun, eating more fish to boost intake of omega-3 fatty acids, socializing more, and not dwelling on negative thoughts.”

I for one am determined to try his suggestions (and here are a few of my own). But since I have no choice to be stuck in front of a computer for the next 8 hours, I think I’ll start small, by setting a photo of a sunny beach as my desktop wallpaper. If that doesn’t work, I’m totally taking a nap.

More on the topic:
Log Off. Reboot: A break from modern technology is good for your health

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6 thoughts on “Feeling depressed? Blame it in part on your modern life

  1. I used to take naps in my office place all the time. On days like today (rainy, dreary, slightly chilly, plus one really whiny toddler) I think it’s more than just my tech which is enabling lethargy.

    Feel good!

    • But to your credit, Rivki, you’re probably busy chasing your whiny toddler around like a well adjusted individual rather than sitting in front of a computer and playing Farmville or something!!!!

      • Okay, mostly true (and thanks for that), but I have, on occasion, been sucked into a marathon of watching old shows on Hulu. It can happen to the best of us.

  2. Too funny! I actually had a picture of a beach scene on my computer at my last job. Can’t say it helped all that much. Mostly, I just became more depressed because I didn’t have the real thing.

  3. Pingback: The most connected Thanksgiving | BTWWTF?!?!

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