Salvation ... comes from the Lord ... because they take refuge in him. (Psalm 37:39-40)

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Overcoming Depression

 Depression can be thought of in two major categories—circumstantial and chemical malfunction.  Chronic depression caused by brain sickness is less common in the overall spectrum of depression experiences and will not be addressed here.  However, depressed mood is something every person faces at one time or another and can strike at any time.

Depression usually stems from unresolved disappointment.  Disappointments and losses occur in varying frequencies and intensities creating many different reactions and symptoms of body, mind, and heart.  If your depression is disrupting daily functions in your life, you should seek help from a trusted friend or counselor to avoid becoming a harm to yourself or someone else.  However, especially if depression is a fairly new occurrence in your life, be aware that depressed mood is very common (normal) and accompanies an often necessary process of grieving losses in life experiences. For example, if a close friend or relative of yours recently died, the physical loss is accompanied by emotional losses of the relationship.  The loss creates the need to acknowledge the impact of the event, deal with the realities, and adjust to find new hope and ways of having legitimate needs met.  This grieving process may include intense depressing thoughts and feelings before you can find a way to accept the changes and move on to a more rewarding life.
            Other losses such as health problems, job and career changes, relationship breakups, physical injuries, family turmoil, and faith shake-ups create similar normal depressive thoughts and feelings. Instead of denying or numbing the emotional impact, the healthiest path to adjustment includes dealing with the pain and difficulties.  The emotion of anger, for example, is often part of depression.   In my recent article called Anger Management or Anger Engagement I share more detail how to battle the anger. .
 Besides depressed mood, the clinical definition of depression includes examining other symptoms such as excessive body weight gain or loss, sleeping more or less, psychomotor changes, fatigue, difficulty concentrating or thoughts of death.  Mental health experts agree on some common coping strategies such as increase physical activity, avoid isolating yourself from other people, engage in activities that once liked to do, watch a funny movie, and avoid punishing yourself for feeling bad.  Seeing a medical doctor to rule out physical problems is recommended.  These and all the coping mechanisms in the world will not be enough if one core issue is not dealt with. That issue is self concept.  A person’s perception of self-worth governs everything about a person’s behavior.  Our inner person health centers around our perceived worthfulness in view of God and other people around us.  Many of my blog articles show how this is true and the one I mention above on the topic of anger is especially relevant to depression. 
            As for me, I have discovered God’s love as the solution to my self worth dilemmas and a place of refuge to escape depression.  As part of my formal education in psychology, I discovered I fit the definition of clinical depression, but never had been diagnosed.  To this day I’ve never taken medication to treat depression (neither legal nor illegal substances).  My background includes severe injury during the birth process that caused me to live my life as a legally blind person.  I’ve overcome many challenges, but depression is something that lurks to steal the joy of the sweetest successes.  I sometimes identify with the Psalmist who asks, “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?” (Psalm 13:2)   
            Many peoples’ stories recorded in the Bible include symptoms of depression.  The Psalms in particular describe vivid bouts of depression and its close cousin, anxiety.  I read, sing, and interact with the Psalms each day to find Refuge from the storms of thoughts of defeat and disaster.  See for an example.
            If you are dealing with depression may I encourage you to turn to God as the best source for hope for lasting change. Also seek help from a counselor who can point you in a Refuge direction.  If someone close to you is struggling with depression, consider how you may become more empathetic to this struggle so you can offer appropriate (non-condemning) help.  If you’re not affected by depression at the present time, praise God, and let God remove any emotional “baggage” so you are better prepared to weather well any storms of life that may be ahead.  Prevention is always the healthiest strategy (see ). 
            May I encourage you to allow hope to rise within you.  Hope is a guaranteed way to overcome depression.  Personal growth expert Jim Rohn says, “Success is not something you pursue; it’s something you attract.  You attract success by becoming a more attractive person.”  I think this applies to hope as well.  You attract hope by becoming a more hopeful person.  Hope is more than wishful thinking.  There are always new things to learn, new skills to develop, new people to get to know, and new perspectives to discover about God and his love.  When expectations see failure, hope sees the substance for the future.  Hope can never disappoint.  Hope resolves uncertainties and puts depression in its place.

                Note:   The book Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart discusses themes of dealing with disappointments, offense and finding freedom in forgiveness.  This book is designed to help people (especially in the Christian faith)  to discover and dislodge things in life that lead to defeat. Don't miss out on your chance to use this book as a helpful tool in discovering Refuge in Christ. It can be purchased by clicking here: .

by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry