Is Modern Life Driving the Mental Illness Epidemic?

Evolutionistx thinks so. She started pondering this in view of the fact that 25% of women in the U.S. are on medications for depression or anxiety. Why so many drug users? A quote:

People seem to do best, emotionally, when they have the support of their kin, some degree of ethnic or national pride, economic and physical security, attend religious services, and avoid crowded cities. (Here I am, an atheist, recommending church for people.) The knowledge you are at peace with your tribe and your tribe has your back seems almost entirely absent from most people’s modern lives; instead, people are increasingly pushed into environments where they have no tribe and most people they encounter in daily life have no connection to them. Indeed, tribalism and city living don’t seem to get along very well.


Steve Parker, M.D.


2 responses to “Is Modern Life Driving the Mental Illness Epidemic?


    Steve, as anesthesiologist and mother, I noticed this myself over a decade ago—honestly, I’d say close to half the patients I care for are on a psychotropic drug, and so many of my children’s very loved and materially blessed friends were seeing therapists or on drugs once they got to high school.

    The neuroscience behind religious ritual and activities backs up the enormous role it plays in mental health–the benefits of prayer (meditation) and group singing/chanting praying are huge. The support of a church community in times of trouble can be literally lifesaving–meals, transport to doctors and treatments.

    Atheists in search of connection can give the Unitarians a shot–they won’t say God or Jesus, at least never have the couple of times I’ve attended their services.

    As I tell my children, religion is simply an attempt to articulate the indescribable. (?Maybe not the ISIS guys’ Islam though?)

    • I appreciate those comments, lamcg. One of the unifying characteristics of Dan Beuttner’s longevity Blue Zones is “participation in a spiritual community.”

      Here are his “Power Nine” characteristics:

      regular low-intensity physical activity
      hari hachi bu (eat until only 80% full—from Okinawa)
      eat more plants and less meat than typical Western cultures
      judicious alcohol, favoring dark red wine
      have a clear purpose for being alive (a reason to get up in the morning, that makes a difference)
      keep stress under control
      participate in a spiritual community
      make family a priority
      be part of a tribe (social support system) that “shares Blue Zone values”