Changing Your Mind: An Interview with Andrew Weil, M.D.

The author of Spontaneous Happiness shows us new ways to relieve depression and foster emotional well-being

Is depression always bad?
I don’t think depression is all bad. Our moods are supposed to vary. We’re supposed to have positive and negative moods. I’m not talking about incapacitating depression. But mild or moderate depression can lead to an inward focus and rumination that may help you solve problems. That’s why depression is often associated with creativity.

Is depression on the rise?
We are witnessing an unprecedented epidemic of depression in this country, mostly mild or moderate. Some may be due to the pharmaceutical industry influence, but maybe only a quarter or so. There’s still a lot of depression to be accounted for. There are many factors: increasing social isolation, disconnection from nature, information overload.

You can’t find cases of severe depression in hunter-gatherer societies. What’s different about them? Almost everything! They eat differently, connect to nature every day and have strong tribal social support. Discontent correlates with affluence -- the more people have, the more they are discontent.

Are women more prone to depression than men?
Hormones do play a role. Before puberty, the rate of depression in boys and girls is the same. After puberty, the rates rise [for females]. So, women are more susceptible to depression. That means they should be especially vigilant about their moods, and take this information and put it into practice. Next: Mindfulness

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