This very good book starts by hammering home some truths that speak powerfully to our Western way of living and explain quite clearly how depression has become nothing less than an epidemic in our culture. The author, Stephen Ilardi, highlights the fact that our modern way of living is a wonderful recipe for depression. Although written primarily for a US-based audience, our very similar lifestyle in Australia makes this book particularly relevant for us too.
Some of the facts that the author points out are the following:
- The only American people group that hasn’t been hit by the epidemic of depression are the Amish – and we all know their slow-paced lifestyle
- In third-world countries, the rate of depression is a fraction of that in the West. But it has begun to increase in those countries that are moving from a more traditional-based lifestyle to a more American (read Australian) one
- Modern day hunter gatherer groups, like the Kaluli people of the PNG highlands, have almost no incidence of depression at all
- Despite the soaring rate of antidepressant use in recent years, the rate of depression is actually increasing
These findings reminded me of research that US psychologist Martin Seligman has done which found that the rate of depression in industrialised countries has risen tenfold since the Second World War. My dad, who lived through the war, sometimes points out to me that “we’re living all wrong”. I couldn’t agree more.