Depression and anxiety are amplifications of the discontent all humans experience. This is what the Buddha called “dukkha” otherwise known as dissatisfactoriness or suffering. Some humans suffer more than others but all humans suffer. Not everyone will meet the criteria to be diagnosed with major depressive disorder or generalized anxiety disorder but everyone experiences depressive and anxious states in their lives. No matter how happy you say or think you are, if you pay close attention you will notice that there is an underlying state of discontent.
The people who tend to deny this are those who keep themselves constantly busy. This works until our stimulus is cut off and we find ourselves embraced by silence. It is from this place of quiet that dissatisfactoriness loves to arise and make itself blatantly evident. This is why most meditators rather quickly realize the first truth the buddha taught; life is suffering.
I recognize why many people don’t want to accept this statement. For one life is not just suffering it is many things. It contains both joy and sadness; pleasure and pain. Perhaps the Buddha’s first noble truth should have been “life will contain suffering until you transcend certain aspects of the mind.” This suffering is the depressive and anxious states we all experience. States many of us can accept as long as they aren’t too severe. Maybe you never experienced intense depression or anxiety before but there is no guarantee you never will. We never know how life will unfold and how certain circumstances will affect us. Until we transcend certain aspects of the mind none of us are free from suffering.
Those in denial of suffering probably stopped reading a long time ago. If you are still reading perhaps you recognize that the Buddha was on to something. Maybe you have experienced mild forms of depression and anxiety. Or maybe you are dealing with a major depression or anxiety disorder. Regardless of how severe your symptoms are, understand they are all manifestations of the disaffactoriness that is a part of all humans. To some extent we all must work with these evolutionary patterns and only when we learn to transcend them can we be free from suffering. There are two points I am trying to drive home.
1.If you have experienced relatively mild suffering thus far in your life don’t take it for granted. Mental health should be a priority for all as we never know how our life experience can change.
2.If you are suffering (perhaps greatly) understand that there is a way out of this suffering.
Neither denying nor dwelling on our suffering will free us from it. Putting a name to a disease can help us deal with it but it can also cause us to become identified with it. Understand everybody experiences depressive and anxious states in their lives. Everyone suffers but most people keep their suffering hidden. It takes courage to be honest about our experience and to share it with others. And our liberation will require an honesty we have yet to embrace. As the adage goes “the truth shall set you free”.