Competition and Depression

Depression is something that in many ways, all of us must go through as human beings. Periods of sadness, grief, loneliness and even hopelessness are universal emotions that is a part of being a person. However, some individuals have a stronger sense of depression, to the point where it can be a clinically justified diagnosis and impacts every aspect of life. In my mind, I think a contributor to the development of depressive symptoms occurs in relationships which dictate negative competitive aspects. I say “negative competitive aspects”, only to be specific, as compared to other posts of mine which refer to competition as a potentially healthy way of managing emotions and relationships. With depression, the competitive imbalance occurs when the feelings of being ‘less than’ and hopeless; helpless to change the parts of our lives which contribute to depression.

Perhaps we feel sad when unfortunate life events occur. A family member dies, we lose our job, or our spouse leaves the relationship. These typical events tend to be the largest reported triggers of depression, and each can involve competitive thinking. When a family member dies, it immediately triggers a universal human truth – we are mortal. As far as medical technology has gone, all homo sapiens have a terminal lifespan – we cannot live forever. As this tends to cause great concern and distress for most of us, being reminded of this fact can lead to clinical depression. Industries such as anti-aging cosmetics exist to capitalize on this human fear, and many of us buy wholeheartedly into a notion that if somehow we live long enough, or longer than others, we have won. Rarely is it a competition about the quality of life that we lead, which is contributes to the whole problem. If all of us tried to beat one another as to who can live the richest, most rewarding life for as long as possible, perhaps our universal fear of death will minimize. If we capitalize on every moment as we live it, so when we look to the twilight of our years, we embrace the lives that we have lead, we cease to feel “less than”. We are winners. We are the winners of life.

Unemployment is another major trigger for sadness. Many of us identify our selves through our jobs. As an example, if a stranger asks you to tell them about yourself, many of us lead with our job title. This is particularly true for most of us men. As a result, when the economy takes a downturn and unemployment rises, many of us feel unidentifiable. We cannot seem to determine who or what we want to be without that job title, and our determination of self-worth by financial worth emphasizes how lousy we feel about ourselves. The longer the period of unemployment, the more intense the depression can become.

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