How do you deal with depression?
The term ‘depression’ can mean so many things. There is a type where you are just sad for a season; in which, you are just feeling down and somber. There is also a type where you feel as if you are in a hole and just cannot get out. Sometimes these types of depression need to be managed with medical help. I am not advocating that anyone get off of medication. I am advocating that you reflect on God’s Word and what His solution for day-to-day life is.
“Yet I am standing here depressed and gloomy, but I will meditate upon Your kindness to this lovely land where the Jordan River flows and where Mount Hermon and Mount Mizar stand.” Psalm 42:6(TLB)
“In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord.” I Samuel 1:10(NIV)
“Oh, that these men would praise the Lord for His loving kindness, and for all of His wonderful deeds! For He satisfies the thirsty soul and fills the hungry soul with good.” Psalm 107:8-9(TLB)
“I will praise the Lord no matter what happens, I will constantly speak of His glories and grace. I will boast of all His kindness to me. Let all who are discouraged take heart. Let us praise the Lord together, and exalt His name.” Psalm 34:1-3(TLB)
“Let all the joys of the godly well up in praise to the Lord, for it is right to praise Him. Play joyous melodies of praise upon the lyre and on the harp. Compose new songs of praise to Him, accompanied skillfully on the harp; sing joyfully.” Psalm 33:1-3(TLB)
“Weeping may go on all night, but in the morning there is joy.” Psalm 30:5(TLB)
“Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.” Psalms 119:165(NIV)
Can patiently meditating on God’s Word and expecting Him to act relieve depression?
Do you pray, read the Bible, reflect on your blessings, praise God, listen to music, praise and try to keep God’s law?
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Oh my, the things I could say about this topic. Clinical depression, hospitalization, medication, group therapy, doctors, and on and on. It is quite a humbling experience. When one is in that “pit of despair”, the “muck and mire” as spoken of in Ps. 40 it is almost impossible to see an escape. When I found myself in this pit it was very hard to pray or read scripture. I felt so far away from anything hopeful. I just wanted to die every minute of every day for months. To compound the loneliness and sorrow of depression is the feeling of isolation. So many people seem to be afraid of you when you have the visual signs of a mental illness written on your face. I guess they fear that a word might push over the edge into self harm and they don’t want that responsibilty so they say nothing. They don’t call or bring over food, send cards, as you would for someone with cancer. I guess the is why group therapy was one of the few things that brought me comfort during those years. Just being with other people that weren’t afraid to say something or give you a hug. They didn’t go bug eyed when you said you wanted to die or even if you told them you had been searching on the Internet for the best way to leave this world.
Thankfully God saved me from that fate by reminding me at that critical moment that only He had the right to decide life or death. I do believe that is the only thing that stopped me. There was no feeling left in me but I still had that little spark of His presence, His Holy Spirit. Thank you God for saving my life. For speaking in that little voice in my time of deepest need. I saw you in way that very few ever do and I can now say that I am grateful for all the pain because it took me to a place spiritually that I would have never reached without that journey.
To anyone reading this message that finds yourself in that place of dispair, please don’t give up hope. You will not be in this pit forever. I would be glad to reach back to you. You do not scare me. I know your pain so well. It is a hell like no other. Don’t feel bad that you cannot feel God’s presence. That you don’t feel like praying or reading the Bible. God hasn’t left you, he is patiently waiting for you to reach for Him. He is fighting this battle with you every moment.
Depression is hard, and there are different causes, so one has to take a long, hard look at what is going on to be able to deal with it.
In my extensive experience with the down-cycles, I have found that step one is just waking up and admitting that I may be/am depressed. Sometimes that’s harder than it sounds; it can be obvious to outside observers long before you actually realize that something is off, or very wrong.
The next step is “getting a grip”, which is to say, realizing that this is an emotional problem that needs to be addressed logically from a non-emotional standpoint. One has to step outside of one’s self for a moment and critically assess reality around you and separate the false-coloring of the emotions that are getting in the way of fact.
After that, I run down the checklist to see what all may apply:
Is this a physical issue? As in, are some external phenomenon affecting my brain chemistry? such as lack of exercise, lack of daylight/vitamin D, a general lack of good nutrition for a period of time for some odd reason (travel for work can interrupt good eating habits in a bad way, especially in the South), lack of sleep and/or air at night while trying to sleep, possible illness (is a cold or flu coming on?), that sort of thing. Anything from a long week with a messed up sleep schedule, to interrupted caffeine intake can screw up brain chemistry. Bad brain = skewed thinking.
Is it an attitude problem, as in, purely psycho-mechanical? Sometimes getting in a bad mood about circumstances beyond our control can lead to an unintentional, internalized Kübler-Ross moment.
Is there a legitimate natural psychological explanation? Such as the anniversary of a tragic loss, current on-going circumstances, things of that nature that we either accidentally or deliberately try to overlook and internalize to “just keep going”?
Is there a spiritual reason or connection? Sin getting us down? Not talking to God enough? MAD at God for some stupid reason or another? Not wanting to deal with some spiritual root reality that you know you should? That’s more of a problem than most people ever want to admit, I myself included, and we’re all guilty of it.
Is there an overlap? Sometimes the worst depression can be brought on by “cascade failure”, where multiple overlapping causes synergistically combine to form the Voltron of Sadness©, where physical contributing factors are aggravated by a combination of mental and spiritual issues that if ignored can morph into a monster that causes the brain and body to react very badly, and the darkness can last for months if untreated.
I have found personally from anecdotal evidence and studying in the field (Psych was my former major) that addressing every single possible contributing influence from as detached a perspective as possible is the best possible way to address the bad situation.
By acknowledging that we aren’t well, we can then move forward to the solutions stage of progress to better mental health. Closely examine all suspect possible causes, and address them as needed. Wash, rinse, repeat as necessary. I can almost guarantee that a lot of healthy meals and vitamin supplements, some mid-level exercise (preferably in direct sunlight), and quality down-time for introspection and down-time with God will go a lot further than anything else to getting out of the pit of despair, no matter how bad things are. Talk with friends, if only just to get everything on your heart out in the open. Blog. Don’t have friends? God is the one friend who never fails and never leaves? Don’t believe in God, or think that He doesn’t care? That’s probably the best place to start, because I guarantee that all problems will point back to this.
Medications can help in the lowest point, but they are a short-term solution only; meds cover and mask the various underlying problems, they do NOT cure them, any more than an aspirin can cure a broken leg. Deal with the reality that is causing the depression, and the need for the temporary crutch of medications will soon go away, or at least be greatly reduced if you have some hard-core chemical imbalance issues taking place.
I agree Spindrifter “meds do not cure”. Not that there is anything wrong with seeking some relief with medication. However, in my experience, it is a far cry from the amazing results portrayed in the television advertisements. I found myself questioning why I couldn’t wind up with medication and seem happy again like the folks of TV. There must really be something wrong with me if medication isn’t working.
As you put it, the solution stage is where one must focus mentally. Develop a strategy to get your mind back to reasonable and logical thoughts. Rather than too much down time, I found that focusing outside of myself and my disappointments was best for me. It helped me get a more resonable perspective whan I gave myself a deversion from my problems for a while. One therepist advised me to set aside 15 minutes a day to worry over all that concerned me (anxiety was the trigger for my depression). When I felt unreasonable worry come on at other times I was to remind myself that worry had to be tabled until that appointed time each day, “now get busy with something else.” The more I did that the more I was able to see that life was moving forward and it was going to be okay.