10. Why our mind is struggling?

November 28, 2023

One in three individuals experience clinical-level mental health issues at some point in their lives. Around 20% of Americans are on antidepressants. How did we get to this point? While humanity is constantly evolving and progressing, the same cannot be said for the field of mental health. Rates of depression and suicide are on the rise, despite the advent of numerous antidepressants and the steep 22 trillion won market for these drugs. This serves as a wake-up call to reassess our understanding and approach towards mental health issues.

Interestingly, major cognitive therapy theories, mindfulness, religious enlightenment, and the values of our societal leaders all point us towards one concept: 'Distancing.' Understanding that thoughts are merely psychological incidents that influence us, and not defining attributes of our selves, liberates us from the grips of depression and anxiety. By clarifying the values we choose to react to and then devoting ourselves to them, we can redirect our lives. This was the core philosophy behind Freud and Beck, the ultimate aim of mindfulness, a key principle in Buddhism, and the main driving factor for the lives of Wittgenstein and Steve Jobs.

The author of this article has had a similar experience. I once attended a university in a provincial area, but due to a lack of fit, I enlisted in the military at a young age. Despite the daunting advice and doubts from more academically accomplished colleagues, I decided to redirect my course and restart my studies. It took me exactly five years to graduate from Korea University and enter Seoul National University's College of Medicine.

That journey was full of challenges. Yet, within this process, I never once doubted my values, and despite many hardships, I was able to incite change.

Through both my own personal experience and studying the shared factor in cognitive therapy theories and influential figures, I became certain that 'distancing' is a vital method for overcoming depression and anxiety, and steering life in a better direction. It is scientifically proven by numerous studies. My hope is that more people can incite change in their lives through the practice of 'distancing.'

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