Seeking Balance in Managing Depression (Part 3)

This is the final part of Seeking Balance in Managing Depression.

Build a healthy support system.  This may involve setting boundaries on others who are toxic and do more harm to you than good.  Since “no man is an island”, we do need other people in our lives.  Building healthy relationships is essential in overcoming depression.  Overcome any tendency to be passive-aggressive or hostile and remain friendly with those who are your true support system.

“and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25

Avoid spiritualizing the problem.  Many people of faith beat up on themselves for not having enough faith, or praying enough, or doing some other spiritual discipline or exercise.  This only makes the depression worse.  Focus on the emphasis of grace in your faith-tradition and seek strength to deal with the areas of life where different choices can help you.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

Get medical tests.  In some cases, depression is due to medical conditions which precipitate depression and must be ruled out.  This is particularly true when there is no clear situational explanation for the depression.  Adrenal insufficiency, diabetes, thyroid problems, Lyme disease, anemia, sleep apnea, and lupus are just a few examples.  Ask your family MD. 

“Make your ear attentive to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding;” Proverbs 2:2

“As He entered a village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; and they raised their voices, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’ When He saw them, He said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they were going, they were cleansed.” Luke 17:12-14

Get professional help.    There is no shame in obtaining help from a professional who has studied depression and understands its dynamics.  They can help with various approaches to breaking free from its clutches.  Different areas of focus in counseling may be working through the grief of past losses, identifying and addressing unhealthy thought processes, and building healthy communication patterns with others. To augment the benefits of psychotherapy, medication can be of help to some people.    

“Where there is no guidance the people fall, But in abundance of counselors there is victory.” Proverbs 11:14

Seeking Balance in Managing Depression (Part 2)

This is a continuation of Seeking Balance in Managing Depression.

Activate yourself.  Resist the temptation to become more passive.  Find those “baby steps” that can keep you doing activities you used to find meaningful.  Believe that you have the power to do this, even when you do not feel like doing anything.  Ideally, increasing exercise in your life and eating in a healthy manner can be part of this “activation”. 

“I passed by the field of the sluggard And by the vineyard of the man lacking sense, And behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles; Its surface was covered with nettles, And its stone wall was broken down. When I saw, I reflected upon it; I looked and received instruction. ‘A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest,’ Then your poverty will come as a robber And your want like an armed man.” Proverbs 24:30-34

Hold on to hope.  Develop a belief and confidence that your emotional state is temporary, not permanent.  This hopeful attitude can be nurtured.  This can be done through meditating on stories of hope, or perhaps movies that used to stimulate a good feeling in you.  Or consider other people who have wrestled with depression and come out victorious.  You can too.

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5:1-5

Avoid depressing stimuli.  Put aside tragic movies or depressing stories.  Stop replaying your own depressing stories in your mind, unless it is for the purpose of finding a healthier way of looking at the situation.  Does alcohol (a depressant) or substance abuse pull you further into a depressive mindset?  Find help to break free from these chains that keep you down in the valley.

“For wisdom will enter your heart
And knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;
Discretion will guard you,
Understanding will watch over you,
To deliver you from the way of evil,
From the man who speaks perverse things;” Proverbs 2:10-12

“Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine,
Or with gluttonous eaters of meat;
For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty,
And drowsiness will clothe one with rags.” Proverbs 23:20-21

Next week we will finish with part 3 of Seeking Balance in Managing Depression.

Seeking Balance in Managing Depression (Part 1)

Depression is every-man’s illness.  People experience a loss of interest or enjoyment in life, lack of energy, social withdrawal, feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness, and even suicidal thoughts (Biblical examples include Job in Job 3:24-26, 6:2-3, 7:7, 9:25, 10:1, 16:16, 17:13-16; and David in Psalms 6:6-7, 38:6-8, 102:4-5).  The causes may be varied, including various losses in one’s life, trauma in a person’s past, unhealthy family relationships, or even genetic and generational predispositions.     

The following suggestions are meant to inspire you toward successful coping approaches that will help you climb out of those dark valleys which life may push you into.

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

Treat yourself with compassion.  Self-hate is often your enemy.  Seek to show yourself the compassion you would show someone else going through a similar struggle. 

“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” Colossians 3:12

Tone down your inner critic.  Related to the above suggestion, this involves tuning in to what your critical inner voice is saying, then turning down the volume.  Simultaneously, you can tune in to the “positive coach” in your head and turn that volume up. 

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Philippians 4:8

Resist guilt and shame.  Actually, accept their existence in your life, but resist dwelling on these emotions.  Instead, let go of the root causes of these feelings and focus on what is more important and of value to you. Forgiveness of others and yourself can help you make healthy changes in your behavior that can keep you moving forward.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9

“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1

Next week we will continue Seeking Balance in Managing Depression.