Elke Geraerts is called the ‘smartest woman in The Netherlands.’ She works as a psychologist to help people suffering from trauma, burnout, and depression.
Imagine a day you felt very sad and try to bring that day back into the top of your mind, and try to grasp how you exactly felt that day. Why you felt sad? And for how long you felt sad? Did it last for hours? Or days? Or even weeks?
Every one of us here, without exception, has experienced such a day and likely many more saddening days like this. When we try to locate that sadness, we immediately reach to a heart, the organ that makes our blood flow through the body.
But when speaking about sadness, you would rather point to another organ: the brain. This is the place for our thoughts, our feelings, our goals in life. When we fall in love, we always think in terms of the heart.
But the love we cherish is in our brain. It’s much the same when after a major setback we’re feeling sad. It’s our brain that is feeling sad. Our intentions, our dreams, our motivations, us all being here together this afternoon, it’s all here, in the brain.
Sometimes we are limited by our brain. All of us, all our brains can become strained when we experience stress at work, or argue with our loved ones. Too often, people burn out, feel depressed, experience anxiety more and more people are becoming addicts.
As a scientist, I really like to create a bridge between science and people, and science and society, and I feel challenged to create new ways to solve these conditions.
The World Health Organization predicts that by 2020 depression will be the most common illness in the western world, even above heart failure.