Depression is a serious issue and universities and colleges have long studied it but the exact cause of depression is still to be determined. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 350 million people around the world suffer from depression. A guest writer at the Huffington Post named Johann Hari described the potential deeper causes of depression.
The story begins with Dr. Vincent Felitti’s clinic in the 1980s. His practice was known to be one of the last places for extremely obese people to visit. His office was long regarded as the place for people in the most severe stages of obesity. Within his program, many people were able to shed incredible amounts of weight and regain a healthy lifestyle. But he noticed that the people who lost the most weight very often went into a ‘brutal depression, or panic, or rage. Some of them [even] became suicidal.’
Dr. Felitti couldn’t understand the problem until he spoke to a 28-year-old woman. In less than a year, 51 weeks, the woman went from a whopping 408 pounds to 132 pounds. But suddenly, she put on over 40 pounds in a couple of weeks and before long she regained all her weight back and was above 400 pounds once again. When Dr. Felitti talked to her, she said that when she was obese, men wouldn’t be interested in her but after she lost all that weight, she began to incur the interest of the opposite sex and being unaccustomed to the attention, she would flee from the interaction and gorge herself on food.
As the conversation unravelled, Dr. Felitti asked the woman when she began to compulsively eat and the woman said at the age of 11. When Dr. Felitti began to probe, he found out that this was the age when her grandfather began molesting her.
Dr. Felitti later found out that of the 183 people in his program, 55 percent of the people there had been sexually abused as a kid. One woman said: ‘overweight is overlooked, and that’s the way I need to be.’ Dr. Felitti said: ‘what we had perceived as the problem ― major obesity ― was in fact, very frequently, the solution to problems that the rest of us knew nothing about.’
This prompted Dr. Felitti to launch a research program that was funded by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. He discovered that there was a direct correlation between childhood trauma and the risk of adult depression. If a child had seven categories of traumatic events then they were 3,100 percent more likely to commit suicide as an adult! (With an additional 4,000 percent higher chance of being an injecting drug user.)
But the research found out that just by discussing the childhood trauma there could be a massive reduction in medical care. Johann Hari wrote for the Huffington Post, saying: ‘Just being able to discuss the trauma led to a huge fall in future illnesses ― there was a 35-percent reduction in their need for medical care over the following year. For the people who were referred to more extensive help, there was a fall of more than 50 percent.’ And, as Dr. Robert Anda put it: ‘it’s time to stop asking what’s wrong with them and start asking what happened to them.’
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