How to Engineer an Environment of Depression
If you wanted to MAKE someone experience depression and anxiety, what would you do?
I was asked this question on twitter, and after some brief thought, I realized it would be EASY.
1. I would start by disrupting their sleep patterns and circadian rhythm. Disrupted circadian rhythm and fatigue are strongly linked to increased depression and anxiety. I would have them stay up very late, force them to wake up early, and create a sleep compensation pattern of wanting to nap during the day. They’d alternate between insomnia and hypersomnia. Over time, their internal clock would become erratic, leading to increased cortisol levels and reductions in serotonin, testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone.
This would also worsen insulin sensitivity, lead to increased ghrelin levels (they’d be constantly hungry) and decreased leptin (lack of signaling that they are full from eating)
Additionally, the systemic inflammation throughout the whole body would be increased as well. And elevated inflammatory markers are common with depression as well.
2. Along with the sleep disruption, I’d have them become addicted to stimulants. Caffeine intake and stimulants from energy drinks. I’d make this their primary beverage of choice throughout the morning, afternoon, and evening. By combining this with the sleep deprivation, the likelihood of anxiety and nervousness would be increased. Adrenaline response becomes skewed due to the constant stimulant intake, heart palpitations and arrhythmia are more likely to happen, blood pressure is elevated. Excess caffeine intake also creates a multitude of nutrient deficiencies, further worsening their state of health.
I’d combine this dependency on caffeine/stimulants with large amounts of sugar in these beverages. Now they have a sugar and stimulant addiction at the same time. They will experience hyperglycemia and then hypoglycemia, in tandem with the rise/fall from the stimulants, contributes to impaired glucose tolerance.
Caffeine increases serotonin production. This seems to be a good thing, as serotonin reduction is linked to depression. But in this case, it is a double-edged sword. I am creating an environment for overall serotonin deficiency, and then making them stimulant dependent for serotonin production. Along with the nutrient deficiencies and the disruption to sleep, health is running in the negative.
Ironically as well, there will be a manifestation of anxiety over the WORSE anxiety/depression that will be experienced should they not be drinking coffee and monster energy drinks. Dependency on the stimulants develops, because going without them increases anxiety, fatigue, depression, moodiness, and reduces focus and energy.
3. Don’t drink water-This is an easy one. Proper hydration contributes to healthy physiological function, so by keeping them slightly dehydrated, I can ruin their health on almost infinite levels. Body pains, headaches, bad skin, bad digestion, all of this is more likely to happen. They’ll never feel “quite right” when they are chronically dehydrated
4. A High Sugar, High Carbohydrate, Low protein diet-Now I can begin really doing a number on their digestion, their gut health, their blood sugar, and their energy levels. With the increased sugar intake comes a whole hoard of ailments: erratic energy, reduced immune system, increased infections, increased inflammatory response, a fatty liver, reduced sex hormones, and its somewhat addictive.
Even better, I’ve made their energy drinks and coffee sugary too. So now they are doubly addicted, and probably unaware that this is interfering with digestion at all.
Additionally, I can keep their protein intake low. This leads to multiple nutrient deficiencies, and further weakens the body. A lack of zinc, magnesium, B vitamins, vitamin D, all of these things are now in play and wrecking slow havoc on their health.
To make it worse, I also have them ignore their gut health, and make them purposefully eat foods that are inflammatory and cause indigestion. Since the brain and gut are linked, and the gut biome and signaling correlates with depression, and High sugar diets are linked to depression and anxiety, this should start to push them over the edge, if they are not already there.
5. From there, I’d restrict ALL of their movement-This would start by keeping them from exercising. Exercise has dramatic effects on improving health, so they can’t be doing any. Also, I’d want them to sit a lot. Sitting, lack of movement, and general lethargy correlate strongly with depression and anxiety. Doing this also makes them more prone to fat gain (fat is inflammatory), and they’ll lose muscle mass also. Exercise strengthens the immune system, so I can make their immune system weaker by keeping them immobile. So now they are weaker, and more likely to be in pain (inactivity is linked to increased aches and pains), and now they do not WANT to move because they have become bad at moving. Their energy levels and ability to focus will decline as well.
This also reduces lung capacity/aerobic capacity. A low-oxygen environment reduces immune system further, so they’re more likely to get sick and take longer to fight infection.
6. No sunlight-Vitamin D deficiency is common with depression, and sunlight is a powerful mood booster, so NO sun. Considering their diet is already awful, the vitamin D deficiency should happen readily.
By never seeing the sun, I’m also reinforcing their disrupted sleep patterns and eating patterns. And by keeping them inside, they are also more likely to be inactive as well.
7. Blue light exposure-I need to be certain that all of the above bad habits are reinforced, and blue light exposure from computers are smartphones is key. If they didn’t have bad sleep before, now they will. By multitasking their attention and creating a dopamine addiction to the phone, I can make all of the above habits almost mindless. They never pay attention to their biofeedback because they are constantly fixated on the screen.
8. Lastly, I can make them fat-being overweight is the force amplifier that takes all the above habits and makes them that much worse. Their health will decline, all cause mortality will go up, and both their body and lifestyle are now working against them. They are tired, in pain, aching, feeling sick half the time, no sex drive, and irritable
I have created the perfect environment for a chemical imbalance, and I did it by “imbalancing” the entirety of their health through disruption of their normal physiology.
What Are You Going To Do About It?
Is this person beyond help in this situation? NO. Changing their lifestyle, diet, and incorporating exercise could absolve them of all the above. But are they willing to do that?
If their attitude is that their mental health cannot be helped, or their job cannot be helped, or their diet cannot be helped, or their “imbalance” cannot he helped, then nothing can be done for them. They are at the mercy of their own victimization.
Everything you read is backed by scientific research and evidence. We are not deficient in our ability to change our health for lack of information, but lack of action, and a society that works against us. The truth is out there,
the question is what are you going to do with it?