Consumerism Exacerbates the Spread of Depression, Says Pope

Addresses Congress Held in the Vatican on This Illness

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 14, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The spread of depression today is a worrying phenomenon induced in part by society, John Paul II says.



The Pope encouraged those suffering from this illness to develop their spiritual life in order to discover the love of God, and those who care for them to be affectionate, so that the sufferers will feel accepted and loved.

The Holy Father addressed the challenges that depression poses to the Church and society, when he received in Paul VI Hall today the participants in the 18th International Conference on Depression, organized by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers.

The meeting gathered some 600 medical experts, committed lay people and Church figures to analyze the situation of some 340 million people worldwide who suffer from depression, an illness that in the worst of cases can lead to suicide.

"The spread of depressive states is worrying," the Pope began by saying. "Psychological and spiritual human frailties are manifested which at least in part are induced by society."

"It is important to be aware of the repercussion that messages transmitted by the media have on persons, by exalting consumerism, immediate satisfaction of desires, the ever greater race for material well-being," he said.

In the face of this situation, "it is necessary to propose new ways so that each one will be able to build his own personality, cultivating the spiritual life, foundation of a mature existence," the Holy Father said.

In fact, "depression is always a spiritual trial," he added. To people who no longer see the meaning of life, the Pope recommended meditation of the Psalms "in which the holy author expresses his joys and anxieties in prayer"; the recitation of the rosary to see Christ with Mary's eyes; and participation in the Eucharist, "source of interior peace."

The Pontiff reminded those who struggle with depression that "in his infinite love, God is always close to those who suffer," adding that "depressive illness can be a way to discover other aspects of oneself and new forms of encounter with God."

Lastly, the Holy Father encouraged those who care for people afflicted by depression, "to make them perceive the tenderness of God, integrate them in a community of faith and life where they feel accepted, understood, supported, in a word, worthy to love and to be loved."