3

votes

Is the rise in mental/anxiety disorders really evolution in action?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created July 28, 2012 at 12:28 AM

Our society as it now is unprecedented in human history. Never have there been SO MUCH information/stimuli to process, never have been so many people surrounding us (not so bad in urban areas, but pretty bad in cities and developed areas). Never have we been able to control our illnesses and outbreaks and plagues which would otherwise decimate our species until very recently.

All of these stressors ARE having an effect on us as a species (mentally and physically, as we use technology to replace memorization, physical strength, and mitigate our environment with air conditioning, lol), and I wonder if we're not currently seeing a humanity that is in the stages of adapting to this environment, instead of having to 'de-stress' by sleeping in pitch black rooms and doing meditation to still the mind.

Has there been any research done on this subject?

F9013a3c7944d40c983e955f3cc83627

(320)

on July 29, 2012
at 12:43 AM

I concede that finances create a lot of stress in today's world, but I would argue that we would be so much more prepared to handle those stresses if our brains and nervous systems (and all of our systems) were nourished properly.

Medium avatar

(10601)

on July 28, 2012
at 06:49 PM

Put on the happy helmet. Put on your Jack Nicholson crazy smile.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on July 28, 2012
at 05:36 PM

I can recommend a book "Why Zebras don't get Ulcers" by Robert Sapolsky. Your choice of words is great, by the way.

A65499f2f8c65602881550fe309cd48c

(3501)

on July 28, 2012
at 01:45 PM

I would agree that much of the mental disorders DO have a lot to do with the crap people are eating. For many adults and children whe they are off processed foods many ofthe symptoms of depression, anxiety and ADD are lessened and or eliminated. Many studies showing gut to brain connection with other disorders as well. It's totally connected.

Medium avatar

(10601)

on July 28, 2012
at 12:16 PM

Go outside. Do what any human is supposed to do. It's not all a head game.

Medium avatar

(10601)

on July 28, 2012
at 12:14 PM

I'd say today more like 90% financial pressure, 10% dietary as contributions to anxiety. What you eat does not destabilize life as much as what is beyond your immediate control.

Medium avatar

(10601)

on July 28, 2012
at 12:11 PM

Very true mscott, and it's fear of losing comfort that generates a lot of the anxiety. Whether you're a kid starting out as an adult, or an adult starting over, the long boding fear of change is more stressful than the event.

Medium avatar

(10601)

on July 28, 2012
at 12:04 PM

Was there ever a time in human history that was not unprecedented to some degree? We look at history books backward and see order, sometimes patterns repeating, but the point at which things change is always chaotic. Austerlitz was not Waterloo was not the great London fire, but now they're merely checkoffs in a history exam.

Medium avatar

(10601)

on July 28, 2012
at 11:57 AM

The immediate selective pressure could be on changes in socialization. Where, who and when Harry meets Sally. What becomes of families and homes. Changing to a "creditist" economy (as The Economist called it) worldwide has turned things upside down socially, affecting human mobility and thr permanence of social structures.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12672)

on July 28, 2012
at 05:46 AM

Lots of comfort can be stressful.

1d0497f8781845ab371b479455bfee8e

(11157)

on July 28, 2012
at 02:53 AM

Indeed I do think it's a sort of pressure, albeit a wholly man-made one. In our desire to achieve comfort with the least amount of effort, we have created an unnatural environment which has a detrimental effect on our mental well-being. I wonder if that pressure is enough to permanently change us over the course of the next several thousand years.

1d0497f8781845ab371b479455bfee8e

(11157)

on July 28, 2012
at 02:51 AM

It's stress of a completely different sort than what we've been used to over our history. Living in a large metropolitan area has been proven to cause a sharp increase in overall stress, which can impact health and one's mental state. Feeling trapped, enclosed, bombarded with noise, air pollution, etc. Humans evolved in small groups with strong family support. Modern society has basically turned that on its head.

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on July 28, 2012
at 01:50 AM

Evolution requires a pressure ie fatalities, or sexual selection. But I do tend to beleive that mental disorders due to lack of human needs being met, is providing a pressure of sorts, whether thats evolutionary or not. That pressure is getting greater with passing time, as we can see in the escalating rates of crime, suicide, depression and mental illness. Perhaps even some war can be attributed to this, given violence is a reasonably enviromentally determined behaviour.

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on July 28, 2012
at 01:44 AM

I agree about the "stress". What have we got to stress about? - our lives are longer and safer than they have ever been. I think its more a matter of people not having the human needs (like small community or connection to nature) that normally would have mitigated perception of stress.

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5 Answers

3
1398eff69b192c35de5e0dbaad59052a

(2024)

on July 28, 2012
at 05:19 PM

I think there's this enormous pressure in the western world to be HAPPY all the time--and the message is that if you're not happy all the time, then obviously something must be wrong with you. Perhaps if we accepted the fact that life isn't all rainbows and roses all the time, we'd be a lot better able to deal.

I'm not saying that depression isn't a real condition, just that I think it's overdiagnosed. And one of the things about the incorporation of eastern philosophies into western mindsets is that it leads to extended naval gazing and wallowing. After all, one of the best ways, IMO, to ensure that you're NOT happy is to question whether you are. In other words, a lot of people just need to get over it, get outside, get a hobby, and buck up. FWIW, I include myself in that.

Medium avatar

(10601)

on July 28, 2012
at 06:49 PM

Put on the happy helmet. Put on your Jack Nicholson crazy smile.

2
F9013a3c7944d40c983e955f3cc83627

on July 28, 2012
at 11:03 AM

I see mental/anxiety disorders and depression numbers on the rise as being, at least partially, caused by diet (read: too little fats, bad omega ratios, too little trace minerals, AND too many chemicals, preservatives, and processed non-food.)

My only source for reference would be The Happiness Diet book... which is an interesting read. There are many sources in the back of their book for further reference and sourcing their information.

Medium avatar

(10601)

on July 28, 2012
at 12:14 PM

I'd say today more like 90% financial pressure, 10% dietary as contributions to anxiety. What you eat does not destabilize life as much as what is beyond your immediate control.

A65499f2f8c65602881550fe309cd48c

(3501)

on July 28, 2012
at 01:45 PM

I would agree that much of the mental disorders DO have a lot to do with the crap people are eating. For many adults and children whe they are off processed foods many ofthe symptoms of depression, anxiety and ADD are lessened and or eliminated. Many studies showing gut to brain connection with other disorders as well. It's totally connected.

F9013a3c7944d40c983e955f3cc83627

(320)

on July 29, 2012
at 12:43 AM

I concede that finances create a lot of stress in today's world, but I would argue that we would be so much more prepared to handle those stresses if our brains and nervous systems (and all of our systems) were nourished properly.

0
7a6529ea25b655132fe58d793f95547a

(2040)

on July 28, 2012
at 05:34 PM

Not evolution just lack of nutrients. A lot of mental illness is caused by a micronutrient deficiency. A lack of zinc can cause an elevated copper level in the brain tissue and that alone can cause all kinds of issues. Calcium inhibits the sympathetic nervous system, helps muscles relax, slows nerve transmission and the heart rate. If you look at the work of Abraham Hoffer, Julia Ross and other orthomolecular practitioners you'll see they've had great success treating patients with nutrients. I should say there is still a lot of people who think that this stuff isn't credible. If you think about it though when we don't eat food we wither and die so it makes perfect sense to me that the food we eat makes up our bodies and especially our brains. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_fHhBpuHSNc&feature=related. I don't think mental illness is any kind of evolutionary advantage but I could be wrong.

0
7cf9f5b08a41ecf2a2d2bc0b31ea6fa0

on July 28, 2012
at 11:24 AM

How can you not be depressed in this messed up world?

Medium avatar

(10601)

on July 28, 2012
at 12:16 PM

Go outside. Do what any human is supposed to do. It's not all a head game.

0
C0c839648b31512515daaffe8e4e9ad1

on July 28, 2012
at 01:09 AM

I believe there has, but you mention several subjects at one time. One is the state of the human psyche in it's current state. The other is the changes that have occurred to thousands of psyches over time. Personally, I'd rather live now than any other time in agricultural past because we have so much stress or opportunity.

I don't think I would've encountered less overall stress in any point in (at least Western) history.

As for present human experience, I wouldn't be able to guess what anyone else's experience is but my own. Aside from the fact that technology and community can, if used ethically, be used to create positive environments with enough for it's participants to grow and help allow people to understand the experiences of others.

Medium avatar

(10601)

on July 28, 2012
at 12:11 PM

Very true mscott, and it's fear of losing comfort that generates a lot of the anxiety. Whether you're a kid starting out as an adult, or an adult starting over, the long boding fear of change is more stressful than the event.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12672)

on July 28, 2012
at 05:46 AM

Lots of comfort can be stressful.

1d0497f8781845ab371b479455bfee8e

(11157)

on July 28, 2012
at 02:51 AM

It's stress of a completely different sort than what we've been used to over our history. Living in a large metropolitan area has been proven to cause a sharp increase in overall stress, which can impact health and one's mental state. Feeling trapped, enclosed, bombarded with noise, air pollution, etc. Humans evolved in small groups with strong family support. Modern society has basically turned that on its head.

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on July 28, 2012
at 01:44 AM

I agree about the "stress". What have we got to stress about? - our lives are longer and safer than they have ever been. I think its more a matter of people not having the human needs (like small community or connection to nature) that normally would have mitigated perception of stress.

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