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To think the high levels of anxiety and depression we experience is down to loss of community?

(117 Posts)
joogle Sat 04-Jun-11 10:15:22

As in humans are 'designed' to live in communities/tribes and nowadays a lot of us live very solitary lives, getting a large portion of our input from the internet or the telly. I guess this is also why mumsnet does so well, our own cyber community.

I reckon the lack of social interaction (and generally just being around others and extended family) is responsible for the rise in depression and anxiety, especially affecting people when they need their tribe the most, i.e. post natal women and the elderly.

Is this an unreasonable conclusion and if not what can people do to minimise the isolation apart from joining a commune?

Jajas Sat 04-Jun-11 10:18:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

nethunsreject Sat 04-Jun-11 10:19:01

I'm sure it has an impact,yeah, but socio-economic factors have a massive impact too.

Bit naive to think there were halcyon days of community though.

MarthaLovesMatthew Sat 04-Jun-11 10:27:05

In reference to post natal women and the elderly, I would definitely say YANBU. Parenting especially is much harder when you're doing with no familial support.

But regarding general levels of depression and anxiety within society, I would that say along with a loss of community, the enormous focus on materialism and capitalism is just as responsible for causing high levels of dis-satisfaction.

Either way, valid point. smile

TheMonster Sat 04-Jun-11 10:27:34

I think you are right.

PacificDogwood Sat 04-Jun-11 10:28:56


Not on its own as nethuns says, but plays a huge part.

StuckInTheMiddleWithYou Sat 04-Jun-11 10:34:43

I think that it does play a huge part.

I'd also say that modern working practices are to blame.

We have less and less job security, fewer breaks (anybody still get a morning tea break?), longer hours and employers increasingly see employees as "resources" as opposed to people.

People with mental illness also suffer huge stigma - something which this government is doing its best to increase - which drives people to hide their problems and fail to seek help.

Bonsoir Sat 04-Jun-11 10:41:56

Yes, I agree. Something I think is really awful is the way family life gets hived off, with each adult spending the majority of his/her waking hours in separate workplaces and each child in "year groups" at childcare and school. Life has become institutionalised for many and there is little transmission of shared family values and experience.

PacificDogwood Sat 04-Jun-11 10:46:13

There is also an expectation of a right to happiness which I don't think people had in previous generations. You were lucky if you were not unhappy, but did not expect to be in a state of permanent bliss either.

There is very interesting research on how people are happiest when they do not compare themselves to others. Which is kind of difficult when slebs' lifestyles are rammed into our faces at every newsagent's...

Bonsoir Sat 04-Jun-11 10:47:32

I think we are all incited to compare and compete all the time and that this is wildly exacerbated when we spend more time with our peer group (work, school, childcare) than our family.

joogle Sat 04-Jun-11 10:47:40

My mother in law is Thai and we have spent a lot of time over there over the years and although no one has a 'perfect' society, the people are a hell of a lot happier. I think it's down to the fact they are very communal, live with extended families, eat together, raise children together and care for the elderly, it is also a very tolerant society.
Not saying this would necessarily be practical over here, it is just a personal observation.

fastweb Sat 04-Jun-11 10:48:30

But are levels of anxiety and depression higher than they used to be ?

Improved diagnosis and the reduction in the degree of stigma may have created an impression of increase rather than it being real.

Laquitar Sat 04-Jun-11 10:53:32

I agree but on the other hand when people were living in close communities some had to make huge sacrificies in order to fit in the community.

GentleOtter Sat 04-Jun-11 10:55:00

I agree with you OP and feel that the anxiety/ depression can be worse in the winter months when you are unable to physically get to meet with other people.

There is a truly fragmented community here, many new people who do not want to mix or interact with their neighbours for whatever reason and I find this difficult after coming from a very close-knit village in the Highlands (where people helped anyone who felt anxious or down).

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Sat 04-Jun-11 10:55:14

I think that lack of community is playing a huge part in people's dissatisfaction with life. For example, many mothers keep everybody but family away from their babies, so those people who would have taken an interest, no longer do. The same mothers then feel isolated and disappointed that nobody is interested in them.

Communities are also broken down when nuclear families move away for jobs or some other reason and parents and extended family members are too far away to be part of a daily relationship.

I think it's dangerous to assume though, from a very small sample of people (MN) that this is what is experienced everywhere.

Laquitar Sat 04-Jun-11 10:56:30

I meant to add: there was also power (the leader) and the weakest in the community were at the mercy of the others.

PacificDogwood Sat 04-Jun-11 10:56:58

fastweb, I agree re diagnosis etc of depression. But I think there is also a lot more unhappiness and discontent with one's lot than in the past.

And yes, the emphasis on individuality has changed priorities, hasn't it?

EggyAllenPoe Sat 04-Jun-11 10:58:35

umm..i think being lonely makes you more prone to depression (in fact here is plenty of researh on this, so it's not just my opinion)

but also...i think it's got crap all to do with capitalism. it has something to do with birth control....

PacificDogwood Sat 04-Jun-11 10:59:51

Birth control??

StuckInTheMiddleWithYou Sat 04-Jun-11 11:01:01

Please explain your reference to birth control?

TheBride Sat 04-Jun-11 11:01:37

I think it's a crisis of rising expectations tbh. I also think that contrary to what posters have said about too little leisure time, much of the problem in the west is too much navel gazing. We're all very self obsessed.

MangoTango Sat 04-Jun-11 11:06:59

Yes I agree that we aren't designed to raise babies in isolation and live alone in old age. Many of the women in my family have experienced some degree of isolation/depression postantally. I found the first year postnatally very hard. Didn't gel with my NHS postnatal group. I gradually made friends that i could see regularly which really helped, but this can take time. I also agree that comparing yourself to others can be a depressing exercise! Facebook can be quite bad for this, especially when you have friends who constantly paint themselves as having fun filled/brilliant lives! One of the things i like about MNet is that there are a real variety of people posting. I used to be a member of a board where most people had a min of 4 bed own homes with big gardens and some members would moan about this and say it was too small!

MangoTango Sat 04-Jun-11 11:08:55

Also meant to say that if I had to live in a community with my mum I would probably go insane, so maybe communities are not all they are cracked up to be, or maybe they are ok as long as you don't have to live in the same house!

TheBride Sat 04-Jun-11 11:16:18

Yes, tight communities are okay so long as you conform to the norms. There was a thread a while ago, where we all tried to think of a better time to live than now (as a woman), and we couldn't come up with one.

ScousyFogarty Sat 04-Jun-11 11:20:39

YES joogle, loss of community may well be part of depression. There will be other factors.

Like relationships, joblessness, poverty, the list goes on

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