It’s sometimes said that our affluent society causes or encourages or fails to discourage depression, and that in previous eras when people actually had to earn their keep and/or fight to stay alive, they didn’t get depressed because they had more important things to worry about.
Is this true? Do people actually succumb to depression more often in our affluent society? Or are there simply more surviving depression sufferers around?
When it takes a lot of effort to stay alive, depression can drastically shorten your life expectancy, often in ways that don’t make its presence obvious. It’s really easy to miss in a culture with a higher overall death rate and less meticulous record-keeping than ours.
This is doubly true in wartime. A war offers endless opportunity for a man growing weary of his mortal coil to be relieved of it without anyone (including himself) realizing the nature of his condition.