Overcoming Depression Part I
"Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God."1
When his father had a sudden heart attack and died, Jack Lawson was devastated. He withdrew from friends and family, was unable to sleep at night, and just couldn't stop crying. It took him a good six months to resolve the resulting depression, but afterwards he said he felt "better put-together than before."
Depression is something many of us grapple with at some time or another. As Dr. Frederick Flach, professor of psychiatry at Cornell University, explained, depression is a normal reaction to many of life's situations, such as the loss of a loved one, a valued object, or job, or experiencing divorce.
Depression is only destructive if we fail to deal with and resolve it. When we work through it, our life, like Jack Lawson's, can be enriched. Until resolved, however, its symptoms can be very painful and include a loss of self-esteem, appetite or libido. It can induce indecisiveness, alcoholism, sleeplessness, irritability, bad temper, tearfulness, dejection, procrastination, apathy, headaches, backaches, chronic fatigue, nausea, digestive upsets, and many other ills.
Its causes can be many and complex. They can be physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual. There are no simple answers, but once we understand and receive help to treat the cause or causes, we can resolve and get on top of our depression.
Physical Causes. For several years Joan was plagued by fatigue and depression. A thorough medical examination showed that she had low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). After a short time on a suitable diet she was back to her old, bright self.
Physical exhaustion, burnout, an unbalanced diet, too much refined sugar, lack of exercise, a chemical deficiency in the brain, or hormonal changes can make people vulnerable to depression too. The latter is especially true for women during their menstrual cycle or pregnancy, immediately following the birth of a child, or during menopause.
Emotional Causes. Some depression is the result of normal mood swings that most healthy people experience at some time. Other depression can have its roots in painful childhood experiences such as physical or sexual abuse, neglect, or from a feeling of not being fully loved. Lack of purpose without meaningful work and worthwhile goals, not using one's abilities, too few friends and loneliness, unmet needs, and unfulfilled dreams, can all cause or increase depression as well.
To be continued ....
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, whenever I am feeling down too much for too long, please help me to admit and face my problem realistically, and seek Your help and that of a trusted friend, pastor or counselor wherever needed, and to find the help needed to treat the causes. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus's name, amen."
1. Psalm 43:5 (NIV).