Why are mental health issues so common today? Well, it is possible that today we are better at identifying mental health illnesses, but it could also be true that what we consider mental illness today might not have been so in previous centuries.
Let’s talk about some of today’s commonly diagnosed mental health issues and how they would have been perceived historically:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) – once upon a time we humans lived next to life-threatening danger and constant potential disaster. Anxiety would have been a beneficial trait to have, as you run through all potential negative outcomes in your mind and work to prevent all of them. This would create a higher potential for survival. You had a fear of a dinosaur, you built a fence to keep your home safe from the dinosaur and life went on.
Phobias – so you are deathly, irrationally, uncontrollably terrified of snakes. Heights. Water. Storms. Can you see how this would have been beneficial at one evolutionary point in human history?
Depression – the argument for the ancestral purpose of depression is weaker than the above examples, but it is suggested that depression would have been a way to prompt the body to save energy. Particularly in regards to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which would slow down ancient humans in the winter months and force the conservation of energy when food was scarce. Human hibernation? You be the judge.
As a species, if you are living in a modernized society, you are no longer connected to the season, the angle of the sun. You no longer hunt and gather, nor do you live a short brutal life full of danger and illness. You may, however, have the leftover wiring inside your brain that was developed by those ancestors.
There is no shame in mental illness. It is entirely possible that you merely have survival skills that are no longer needed, and are actually a hindrance in the kind of lives we live today. You also have too many teeth in your head and an appendix – leftovers from previous lives where they were useful. We don’t judge people for cutting a wisdom tooth that has to be removed. Don’t judge yourself for struggling with vestigial survival mechanisms.
Contact us here at Cornerstone, we are professional, compassionate, and skilled. We can treat your mental health and get you on the road to a clearer mind and a better quality of life. Remember, you matter.