Complaint: Disappointed with Your Response
You wrote the following advice to a depressed individual:
"Depression is the result of self-centeredness. You are not meant to consider yourself to be the center of existence. If you embrace this untruth that you are the center, is it sure and certain that you will be depressed. The easy way to both conquer and prevent depression is to always remember that since Krishna is the source of all existence, He is naturally also the center of all existence. Therefore all of your thoughts, words, and deeds should be centered around Him, not around yourself. As soon as you become Krishna-centered your self-centeredness will naturally go away, your depression will be gone, and you will be enjoying life like anything at every moment."
My response to your advice is:
Many people have chemical imbalances in the brain that cause depression, bipolar, and other much more serious conditions. All of these conditions can lead ultimately to suicide. If a person has a chemical imbalance, no amount of Krishna consciousness will cure that. It's irresponsible to tell someone who you might not even know, who might very well be extremely ill, that he/she is self-centered and just needs to become more Krishna conscious. While Krishna consciousness is certainly a great thing, sometimes it's not the only answer. If someone wrote to you and told you he was having chest pains and shortness of breath, would you tell him to become more Krishna conscious, or would you tell him to see a qualified doctor? True mental illness is just as serious and as potentially deadly as physical illness. Preach Krishna consciousness, but for goodness sake, be responsible!! I hope this person is not in serious trouble, because you probably just encouraged him to blame himself for his problems and to not seek a mental health professional. I am very disappointed in your flip response to this issue.
Answer: Try to Deepen Your Understanding
In regards to your being disappointed with my answer regarding depression, I humbly request you to try to deepen your understand by seriously considering the following points.
I just spoke with my psychiatrist friend who is expert in these matters. He has informed me that 60% of those persons who find relief from anti-depressant medicines after going off of them again become depressed and have to go back on them to again treat their depression. And then out of this group 80% will again before depressed after going off the medicine and will go on it again. And then of this group 100% will again be depressed after going off of the medicine and then become chemically dependent on this very expensive anti-depressant medicine for their entire lives. So this chemical approach to dealing with depression is itself a rather depressing scenario. He also pointed out that it doesn't really cure their depression. They simply become more emotionally stable depressed persons.
Although these anti-depressant medicines may be necessary for those who are so emotionally unstable that they cannot function as normal individuals or that they may harm themselves or harm others, they are certainly not a cure for depression. It is not that that these people become happy by taking these drugs.
The reason that the anti-depressant medicine approach is so unpromising is that is based on a false conception of the self and a primitive understanding of the cause of depression. While chemical imbalance may be a symptom of depression, it is not the cause of depression. The cause of depression is our being cut off from our original, all-blissful, enlightened state of pure selfless consciousness.
Any practitioner who is trying to rescue clients from depression must focus on reconnecting the individual with his actual all-blissful self within that is in a natural state of perfect harmony with the Supreme Person and all of existence. This process is best facilitated by chanting the holy names of God on a regular daily basis. While in extreme cases a duly authorized practitioner may find it expedient to include prescription medicine in the treatment program, such medicinal treatment must always be understood to be of less importance that an expertly executed process of re-harmonizing the depressed individual with his original, all-blissful enlightened state of consciousness. Otherwise we are simply unnecessarily turning people into anti-depressant junkies and not really solving their problem.
So my answer was not at all a flip answer. My answer is coming from the great enlightened teachers of the past who guided the Vedic civilization for thousands of years. Theirs was an enlightened civilization in which depression was conspicuous by its absence. The modern day scientists would do well to learn from these great teachers of the past instead of considering the existence of these great sages to be mere mythology.