A senior visiting a doctor these days is grilled on a number of items. Number one on the list is, “Are you depressed?” I suppose that if you are an octogenarian there is a good chance that you would answer positively to such a question. After all, at that age, a lack of energy and difficulty in maintaining concentration is not uncommon and could lead to despondency, accompanied by feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy. Pleading guilty to depression could carry a life sentence of one Prozac per day or worse yet a visit to a “shrink” once a week for thirty minutes for the rest of one’s life or until insurance coverage runs out -in which case there is no alternative other than to start enjoying life again.
I submit that some depression is actually healthy and that anyone who denies being depressed by the state of the nation and the world is mentally challenged. The chaos in the Mideast, the ever increasing frequency of gun violence, a dysfunctional Congress, the erosion of our privacy rights and the futility of rooting for the Cleveland Indians to win their division are grounds for depression. Acknowledging this only shows the possession of high standards. These high standards can be accompanied by feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy when we contemplate possible solutions. The frustration which borders on depression only increases when it becomes apparent that those in a position to fix the problems are just as inadequate as we are, if not more so.
Obviously if fits of depression increase in frequency to the point where there is no interest in life, what was once a healthy trait becomes a demon (I guess this is what the good doctor was searching for). So how do you fight the demon? That’s what “shrinks” are for. Then again, According to Buddha. "It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell." Meditate on that!
The challenge we face is to keep depression as an occasional visitor. If we can learn to recognize when it is wearing out its welcome we have won the battle. Embracing all that is right with life and being grateful for life’s blessings can show depression the door. Easier said then done? Nothing ventured, nothing gained.