Metamorphosis of mental health across generations

I remember my late maternal grandmother as a very positive person, who loved to cook for her whole family, who loved to have family and friends over all the time, and also make a difference in others’ lives as much as she could with the limited resources she had. She got married to my grandfather at the age of 17, had four daughters, and a couple of babies that did not survive. She had a hard life, in an old and crowded house all her life. No dishwasher, or fully automatic washing machine. Nothing that we take for granted today.

We would visit them every Thursday night for dinner with my parents, my aunts, their spouses and kids. She would cook for and feed fifteen to twenty people every Thursday. My brother and I loved spending time at their house after school or for sleepovers on weekends.

I have never seen her complaining about anything, never seen her down or depressed, even after she had a stroke later on, which diminished the quality of her life considerably. She still smiled all the time.

They were never well off, my grandparents. They always had a very limited budget, but they were always happy. I bet most of you remember your grandparents the same way. Compared to the current generations that seem to deal with depression and mental illnesses extensively, they were in a much better mental status. Even though they had harder lives than us, how come they were mentally more stable and happier?

Why mental diseases are getting more and more common for people? Did we always have these ailments in the past? Were they mostly ignored or were we in denial in the past and are we mutating into more sensitive beings with every generation?

People witnessed wars, famine, extreme poverty and epidemics and survived them all, mentally and physically. Then why we get upset with even small stuff now? Are we getting weaker? Are we too spoiled?

It is a fact that people are becoming more susceptible to depression and anxiety due to added pressure from society and social media. And obviously, we are all more conscientious about mental health, which is great, but from time to time, I wonder whether or not we exaggerate the symptoms? Are the doctors too quick to prescribe anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs? Is it because medications are the easiest and fastest way to deal with mental problems instead of going the meditation, psychotherapy, mindfulness, natural remedies route?

I believe that we should exhaust every alternative option before accepting to take medication, which will most probably become a longterm commitment and quitting will prove itself difficult according to a New York Times article from April 2018 that I find quite eye-opening.

We should always remember that we are all stronger than we think. Life is hard in different ways for each person and every generation. It has its ups and downs, but sooner or later everything falls into its own rightful place in its own time and at its own pace.

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