Feeling depressed? Battling feelings of guilt, rejection, hopelessness and fatigue? You are not alone. And you can win this war. Read on.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than 300 million people suffer from depression globally. According to Mayo Clinic,
Depression is a mood disorder that causes persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems.
I agree with Dr. Scott Hannen (author of the book, Healing By Design), that only a small percentage of people actually suffer from true clinical depression. He says, (and I totally agree with him) it is unfortunate that the medical community fails to note the causes of depression and treats symptoms of depression with drugs and medications instead. Many people are medicated for depression without ever addressing the root cause of the condition.
I believe everyone goes through period when he/she feels down, miserable or disinterested. But it can be dangerous to let such a state persist for long. When allow depression to persist, a host of other problems can arise such as physical and mental breakdown, divorce and even suicide. We need to deal with the underlying cause(s). We can beat depression.
ROOT CAUSES OF DEPRESSION
The underlying causes of depression can relate to the body and/or mind.
The Body: Suppression and Fatigue
In relation to the body, Dr. Scott Hannen, in his book Healing By Design states that suppression as one condition that mimics depression. He gives the definition of suppression as “prohibiting or stopping activities; to exclude from consciousness; to keep from giving vent to.” When people eat food that gives less energy than the body needs to fulfill all of its functions, the body suppresses some normal activities in order to fulfill those that are vital to life. Eating foods that give less energy foods such starchy and sugary foods leads to suppression. Also, some foods like coffee, refined grains, sugary food, etc. overstimulate the body to expend its energy to exhaustion. When the body is suppressed we feel fatigued and depressed. Our brain and emotions are affected so that we think negative thoughts and feel sad. The key here is to identify these low-energy and stimulating foods and eliminate them from our diet. They might just be the reason for your symptoms of depression.
You need rest. Fatigue is a cause of depression. When we are tired and worn out from the day’s activities or from changes that cause stress, our minds and emotions are affected. Our decision making is impaired. We need to learn how to relieve stress and recover strength. When we refuse to take needed rest, we will eventually breakdown.
Mind: Oppression and Misbeliefs
When the mind is weighed down by worries and cares, it is termed oppression. Life will always present us with challenges. Life will always offers us a mixture of good, bad and ugly events. And we cannot predict with certainty what life will bring us in the next moment; but the key thing is that we can control our responses so that life’s events so that they don’t adversely affect our emotional and mental states.
Oppression of the mind can be caused by misbeliefs. That is, the untruth we tell ourselves. We all talk to ourselves-the thing psychologist call self-talk. Self-talk is the inner monologue that goes on inside of us. We are continually having conversations with ourselves whether we know it or not. This conversation runs on throughout the day and determine our behavior and our actions. When our self-talk is influenced by misbeliefs (that is, untruth), we suffer mentally and emotionally. Misbeliefs are at the root of negative thinking and negative self-talks. To be free from depression, we have to consciously examine our self-talk to find out the misbeliefs underlying them and then replace them.
William Backus and Marie Chapian, in their book, Telling Yourself The Truth, wrote that depression begins when negative self-talk founded on misbeliefs follows activating events such as failure, divorce, loss, sickness, etc. They identified three misbeliefs that usually accompany negative self-talk. They term it the depressive triad. For example a college student who fails a course may tell himself: “Boy, you are so dumb. You failed that course. What are you doing in college anyway? Look at all the time and money you are wasting. You’ll never make!” The self-talk and misbeliefs form a triad that can be identified:
- Person devalues self: “Boy you are so dumb.”
- Person devalues situation: “Life is hell for me. Nothing works for me. I don’t know why I get out of bed!”
- Person devalues his prospects for the future: “You will never make it!” “I will never amount to anything in life. Life is hopeless.”
THE WAY OUT
To deal with depression, we have to consciously examine our self-talk. We bring our inner conversation to the foreground, listen to them, examine them and replace the lies with truth. William and Marie advises: “Listen to your self-talk and then engage in some honest and daring truth-telling.”
For example, when you are hurt, you admit the hurt. You don’t deny the fact by saying, “I don’t care. I will not allow myself to be hurt.” Rather you say the truth about your situation– “Yes, I feel hurt. I feel unpleasant about this.” We are created with emotions. Emotions are like the pain you feel when you cut your finger. It will be stupid to deny that you do not feel pain when in fact you are in pains. But again, we don’t end our self-talk by merely acknowledging the truth about our emotions and situations. We continue the truth-telling.
- “I have lost some money and I feel hurt, but this is not the end of the world for me.”
- “I am not going to lie to myself that I am not angry. I am angry. But I can control my anger in a healthy manner.”
One major lie we usually tell ourselves is that we cannot live without a person, or an object or belief. The truth is what when we lose something or someone, we can go on and live a happy life if we are ready to make necessary adjustments. So get out of the lie that someone or something is indispensable. Perhaps, someone you love died or your fiance left you or you lost some money in a venture, you can move on with life. Acknowledge the pain but by all means be determined to move on.
To win against depression long-term, we need to have a purpose for living. We are created by God to have a sense of direction in life. We need to have something that drives us daily; to want to make us get out of bed every morning. Without purpose, life becomes a boring chore and at best something meaningless. Our purpose for living will inform our dreams of who we want to be, what we want to do and have. Then we set goals, short-term and long-term and follow through to achieve our dreams. See yesterday’s post: Go For Goals And Grow.
But we need to be careful not to run into troubles here. Our self-worth or self-esteem should never be determined by what we have accomplished or not. Mike Murdock, in his book, Wisdom For Winning says it better. He said:
He who majors on achievements will find his thrills short-lived; but the child of God who majors on his relationship with the Father will find the well of joy endless…springing up with new victories daily.
We need a relationship with God. As a Christian, I know I am important; not because of my accomplishments but because God loves me unconditionally. He sent his Son Jesus Christ to die for my sins and for yours too. This mindset frees me from the need to perform in order to be important or loved. There are many great people with astounding accomplishments and possessions who were not free from the grips of depression. Many committed suicide. The story of Elvis Presley is a sad one in this regard.
Also, to win against depression, we need to have a positive attitude towards life. Life is not all thorny. It is both rosy and thorny. Life is not always winter; it is a mixture of other seasons as well–winter, summer, autumn and spring. Life is not always downs. There are also ups. In times of adversity, we need to tell ourselves that “this too shall pass” and we will again enjoy prosperity. Refuse the talk of defeat because what we verbalize will affect our thoughts and emotions. We need to remind ourselves too that our depression is not permanent. We can recover if we take necessary steps.
I sincerely hope this post helps someone suffering from depression. You can recover and be happy again.
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