The Social Side of Depression
Without friends no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods. Aristotle
Depression has a social side too. Belonging is a fundamental need. People need to belong to social groups that involve lasting, positive, significant and reciprocal relationships with other people. In order to satisfy this need, people must have emotionally pleasant interactions with several others. Without this kind of group belonging, people get sick. But sometimes our habits of relating can get in the way. This chapter examines the social patterns that can give rise to depression and provides practical strategies for developing awareness and for making changes.
Studies have, in fact, shown that about 90% of depressive episodes can be traced to an external event, most of which involve some kind of loss—loss of relationship, loss of status, loss of lifestyle, loss of meaning, as well as more tangible losses like job loss or material loss. According to the US Census bureau, 53% of first babies are either conceived or born before marriage and even though getting married or having a planned for baby may be positive events, they are still stressors.
In so called “primitive" societies having a baby increased social status, but in our society it involves loss—loss of what was a familiar lifestyle, loss of friends, loss of a way of being. And between the loss of what was and the reconstruction of a new way of being, a new identity— there is a valley of transition to pass through. If you’re married, you were competent at being single before you were married; but there is a learning curve, an adjustment to being married. There is a learning curve to being a parent, and a learning curve to parenting two or more children. Many people grieve the old even as they embrace the new.