Treatment for Depression: Relational Risks and Remedies

When discussing treatment for depression, it’s important to begin by considering the various causes of depression. mentioned in a previous article written by this author on the topic of depression,Causes of Depression – including Relational and Spiritual Perspectives,” there are a variety of reasons why someone succumbs to depression. Often a mixture of genetics, brain chemistry, and family history play a role in the development of depression.

Furthermore, certain individuals may have a biological predisposition or vulnerability to mood issues when faced with overwhelming stressors. When ample distress is added to a pre-existing vulnerability, an individual is likely to become emotionally dysregulated with symptoms ranging from anxiety to depression.

Depression can be situational or characterological, meaning it can be caused by trauma or loss, but it can also be a kind of personality adaptation as well (think Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh).

Underlying medical conditions (such as thyroid or hormonal issues), use or abuse of prescription medication or other substances (alcohol, marijuana, etc.), a lack of adequate nutrition (eating too much sugar or processed foods) or physical activity, and any pre-existing addictions may contribute to the development of depression.

Of course, family history and environment also play a part in developing depression, as does the experience of childhood neglect and abuse. In my practice of psychology, I have discovered that a pattern of dishonesty or living outside the bounds of integrity is an often-overlooked contributor to depression.

While a biological or medical cause of depression may be helped with prescription medications for a time, it is still essential to identify and resolve the underlying behaviors and emotions which support a biologically based depression. Keep in mind that even a biologically based depression (such as post-partum depression) is always also behaviorally, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually supported.

Treatment for Depression

While many practitioners readily focus on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and depend upon medication as treatment for depression, it is rarer that a therapist understands that it is our relationship with our self, others and God which must also be assessed, addressed, and re-calibrated to effectively cure a depression (and possibly protect against it in the future).

Throughout several decades of clinical practice and observation, I have noticed that most mental health issues tend to be tied to a failure to adapt in some way to something for which one is unprepared or inadequately prepared. Stressors have come along for which the person is under-resourced either internally (within themselves) or externally (via necessary support structures, friends, family, community).

Destructive defense mechanisms and misinformed or misaligned coping skills are responsible for much mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual suffering. Whereas wellness or the antidote to mental illness always involves achieving greater alignment among each aspect of our human “being.”

Wellness also involves repair and reparation in relationships with those with whom we have been unloving, insensitive, hurtful, unfair, neglectful, or abusive. Assuming appropriate responsibility in our interactions with others is generally accompanied by a greater sense of confidence and freedom, as well as more mutually satisfying relationships.

Good psychotherapy presents us with an opportunity to identify and correct aspects of misalignment within ourselves and within our relationships with God and others. This kind of relational misalignment is evidence of a lack of integrity in the individual, meaning that the person is fragmented within and incapable of clear and effective self-expression.

A lack of or repression of self-expression predictably leads to depression. Finding one’s voice and beginning to express oneself authentically is another pathway that leads away from depression and toward health and wellness.

We must understand how our everyday choices and patterns of interaction either contribute to or destroy our serenity and capacity for happiness and joy. Furthermore, each decision we make, especially under duress, is a determinant in moving us either closer toward or further away from a state of mental illness or mental misalignment.

As stated in the previously mentioned article by this author (see above), once the root cause(s) of your depression is/are understood the therapeutic remedy follows accordingly. Please be aware that the solutions offered by a practitioner tend to be tied to the medical or mental health professional’s understanding of the nature of depression. One’s professional point of view often tends to determine the type of treatment for depression prescribed.

For example, a psychiatrist is likely to prescribe medications to address and enhance neurotransmitter functioning. Of course, while this type of treatment for depression can bring some eventual relief, it also leads to a kind of subscription service that maintains one’s dependence upon a medical professional as well as the prescribed medication over the long term.

So, while in some cases, medication may be necessary, in my opinion, medication alone merely maintains a level of functioning and helps with the management of mood issues. Meanwhile, the person’s lifestyle and life choices may continue to support a dysfunctional level of inadequacy which can undermine one’s success and satisfaction in meeting the changing demands of daily life.

From another perspective, a fitness and nutrition-oriented mental health professional is likely to focus on your lifestyle habits and nutrition as a possible culprit in ongoing depression. While a psychodynamically oriented therapist will look for the source of depression in your early family life experiences.

In my practice, I work holistically, taking into consideration many possibilities of origin and then matching the focus of treatment for depression to the individual’s current level of resources, needs, and desires.

Some of the areas we will explore together include lifestyle and nutritional profile, extended family and upbringing, cultural influences, unresolved trauma, unprocessed pain, spiritual alienation, interpersonal misalignment, experiences of abuse or neglect, medications and supplements, sleep and exercise, and how well resourced you are internally and externally in terms of self and other support.

Relational Risks and Remedies

Problematic (interpersonal and intrapersonal) styles of relating contribute to the development of depression. While the word “interpersonal” refers to interactions between two or more individuals, the word “intrapersonal” describes our relationship with (and within) ourselves.

Problematic patterns of intrapersonal relating (the way we relate to ourselves generally as well as how we respond when disappointed, hurt, or rejected) tend to be overlooked and/or misunderstood in terms of their contribution to the development of depression and other mood disorders.

Let me assure you that the way you treat yourself matters even more than how you respond to others – especially because you are in a lifelong (even eternal) relationship with your inner being, your soul. Self-betrayal is a frequent and significant contributor to all kinds of mental health problems.

Being kind, compassionate, and understanding with yourself while also being principled and disciplined in matters of importance is the antidote to the deadening pain of ongoing self-criticism, self-rejection, self-betrayal, and a feeling of failure.

One of the most common intrapersonal causes of depression is a practice of saying “yes” when you authentically have an inclination or gut reaction to say “no.” Such behavior is an example of a kind of inner abandonment or self-betrayal which is never something God asks of us. Behaving this way is inauthentic and self-victimizing.

The motive for engaging this undermining pattern usually involves fear and a subsequent felt need to control, manipulate, or manage the impression of another person. A pattern of saying “yes” when you want to say “no” is a kind of dishonesty.

It is also unfair to others and makes you an unsafe person in relationships. You may want to ponder this paragraph for a bit to help this information seep into your soul as a reminder of God’s intention and purpose for us as his “fearfully and wonderfully made” children.

A second quite common intrapersonal risk involves a pattern of overriding your intuitive sense (gut reaction) when it indicates a lack of safety. This undermines one’s sense of self, sense of personal efficacy, and sense of personal dignity. It is essential when seeking to live a life of integrity to conscientiously and prayerfully determine whether something asked of you is in your best interest or whether it undermines and destroys intimacy.

This is because a foundation of trust is necessary to establish and maintain healthy intimate relationships. A pattern of ongoing self-betrayal is a recipe for distrust and eventual relational disaster. This is one of the first things I pay attention to when getting to know a new client. I ask each person, with whom in your life do you have difficulty saying “no?” and then we explore the meaning of this and how it came to be.

Another significant relational risk contributing to depression occurs because of an ongoing pattern of spending time with someone you genuinely dislike or distrust. Over-giving and a lack of relational reciprocity also lead to a relationally based depression.

Do you find it difficult to express yourself when something matters to you? Is it difficult for you to expect that your preferences, opinions, and needs will be considered a priority in your close relationships? Are you able to inform others fairly and firmly when you have hit a personal limit?

Are you comfortable establishing and maintaining a self-protective boundary or do you mistakenly believe that boundaries are things we set for other people in an attempt to govern their behavior? Difficulties in any of these areas may be fueling or feeding symptoms of depression. The antidote to depression is to develop a full range of authentic self-expression.

Please come back next week for the next article in this series in which I will be discussing the risks and remedies of a spiritually-based depression.

If you’re ready to begin treatment for depression, I invite you to contact me or one of the other practitioners in the counselor directory to schedule an appointment today.

Photos:
“Feeling sad,” courtesy of Danny G, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Stay with me,” courtesy of Christiana Rivers, unsplash.com, CC0 License; Quote images designed by California Management Services, copyright 2020, all rights reserved

Depression Counseling: Combatting Common Myths

A quick search of the Internet finds definitions of depression such as “feelings of severe despondency and dejection.” It seems straightforward at first blush. Digging into the definition, however, we find that depression is more than feelings and we discover that no two individuals’ experiences of depression are the same.

What is depression?

In general terms, depression is a state of being. “Being,” in this case, is an active experience of the three dimensions of depression, which are feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. Any definition of depression that excludes one or more of these elements is inaccurate and misleading. Depression, then, is an active depressing of our thoughts, feelings, and actions. When something is depressed, it is pressed down.

Signs and Symptoms of Depression

Let’s look at some of the signs and symptoms of depression as identified by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (or DSM-5 for short).

Sadness or Negative Emotions (Feelings)

  • This refers to a depressing mood.
  • In other words, one might feel down, blue, apathetic, disinterested, etc. There are a variety of experiences of sadness.

Worthlessness or Guilt (Thoughts)

  • These are actually thought patterns that breed a depressed mood.
  • For example, a person might think, “I’m just no good to anybody,” or “I’m such a screw-up.”
  • These thoughts may lead to a depressed mood state, but they are not feelings, themselves.

Changes in Sleep and Appetite (Behaviors)

  • One might sleep to excess or have trouble sleeping. Time spent awake is depressed by sleeping more than is typical or sleep is depressed by spending more time awake.
  • A person may eat more or less than usual. Again, appetite or satiety is depressed.

To understand what depression might look like for you, or someone you love, we need to understand how this state of being plays out in every-day life and how there is an intricate interplay between the three dimensions of depression. The symptoms listed above are not exhaustive and represent only a handful of experiences you or a loved one may be experiencing.

What does “depression” look like and how do I identify it?

Experiences of depression vary widely across individuals and even cultures. There is no one-size-fits-all identification process. That’s why it’s so important, in considering depression counseling, to understand that your experience may not reflect what you see on commercials, or of your friends, relatives, or coworkers.

The question you must ask yourself is, “Is what I am experiencing interfering with my ability to live and enjoy life?” If the answer is yes, depression counseling may be the solution for you. To help you answer this question (for yourself or a loved one), consider the following real-life manifestations of a depressed state of being.

As you review them, do they resonate with you? Can you relate to them? Do you see these things happening in the life of a loved one? (Please note these experiences are not listed in order of importance, nor is this list comprehensive.)

  • It seems every morning is a struggle. You love to hit the snooze button. You don’t want to get out of bed.
  • Your body isn’t cooperating with you. You’re tired all the time. You feel fatigued. You may even have unexplained aches and pains.
  • You have trouble concentrating. Your attention is easily interrupted. Trying to do something simple requires so much effort. You may even do mindless things like putting the milk in the cabinet or your keys in the freezer.
  • You feel sad. You cry a lot. You are constantly aware that you’re putting on a mask of happiness.
  • Food has lost its flavor to you. You used to find comfort in a gooey pizza or greasy hamburger, but now you even feel too tired to chew much of the time.
  • You remember how you used to love to see the next box office hit at the theatre. It seems overwhelming, now, to even think about getting ready, leaving the house, and being around people to do this thing you once regularly enjoyed.
  • You don’t know how you feel, so when people ask you if you’re “okay,” you just don’t know how to respond. You usually say, “I’m fine,” because you can’t seem to put your finger on a specific feeling.
  • You question yourself about why you’re feeling down. You think about all the things you have in life, and by all outward appearances, you should be feeling happy, but you don’t, and thoughts of guilt invite even more feelings of sadness.
  • You’ve wondered what it would be like to run away from it all. To just disappear. You haven’t thought about killing yourself necessarily, but you think about how nice it would be to just escape or sleep forever.
  • Things at work and at home are getting overlooked. Even though you know there are tasks you must complete, you just can’t seem to get them done. And, now, people are noticing.

If even a few of these scenarios resonate with you, you should seek depression counseling. Despite campaigns of mental health awareness, there continue to be stigmas associated with seeking help. What we know is that avoiding seeking help yields more intense experiences of depression that can quickly spiral out of control. It is never too early to engage in depression counseling, and there is no experience too small to benefit from it.

Combatting the Myths of Depression Counseling

Severe experiences of depression are avoidable. We are beings crafted for connection. When we begin to feel sad, we sometimes isolate ourselves particularly from those who love us the most. We fear judgment from others, and most of us consider therapy or counseling a last resort because of the following myths and false beliefs. Have any of these thoughts prevented you from seeking depression counseling?

If I go to talk to a counselor and I use the word depression, they’re going to diagnose me.

Your experience of depression may or may not necessitate a diagnosis. What is of primary importance to you and your counselor is to understand the experiences you’re having, and how you can work together to minimize or eliminate the depressing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in your daily life.

Be candid and express your concern about being diagnosed. Above all, be 100% honest about your experiences. Counseling is a nonjudgmental space for you to capitalize on transparency for recovery and restoration.

My therapist will recommend I take medication for depression.

You are your number one advocate. If you do not want to consider medication, you must express that clearly and immediately. Also, most counselors and therapists are trained in talk therapy.

Helping you work through your challenges by talking about them and setting goals is their expertise. Conversely, if your goal is to obtain medication a counselor can help you determine the advantages and drawbacks of doing so before you seek psychiatric consultation.

Others will think I’m crazy.

Your counseling experience is yours to share with whomever you choose, or with no one. Your counselor will help you explore the false belief that everyone who seeks counseling must be “crazy.”

Rather than focusing on what others will think of you, consider how badly you want things in your life to improve. What are you willing to do (e.g. – seek counseling for depression) to alleviate your sadness and reincorporate joy into your daily life?

It’s really not that big of a deal. I should be able to deal with this on my own.

You were not designed to live life, do life, and cope with life on your own. Look back to the beginning. God created Eve to give Adam a companion. God knew it was not good for a person to be alone, or to walk through life’s mountains and valleys alone.

You are not intended to be alone. God provided therapists, pastoral teams, and Christian counselors with the wisdom needed to walk alongside people just like you. If it’s a big deal to you, it’s a big deal. Do not delay seeking wise counsel.

Getting Started with Depression Counseling

If you are experiencing even the slightest changes in mood, thought, and behavior, counseling is a good place to unpack those experiences and gain the wisdom of a trained professional. Your experiences of depression do not have to define you.

You have the power to overcome depression. Your experiences aren’t too small or too big to start with counseling. Understanding how various the signs and symptoms of depression are across all people, you free yourself from stigma and help others do the same.

Photos:
“Alone”, Courtesy of Anthony Tran, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Inside Looking Out”, Courtesy of Sasha Freemind, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Hope”, Courtesy of Ron Smith, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Lonely Road”, Courtesy of John Towner, Unsplash.com, CC0 License

Causes of Depression: Relational and Spiritual Perspectives

Depression is one of the most commonly occurring mental health issues. In fact, the World Health Organization reports that about 5% of men and 9% of women experience symptoms of depression in any given year. In this article, we will explore depression from a traditional medical point of view. We will also examine the relational, spiritual, and faith-related aspects and causes of depression consistent with biblical Scripture.

Presently, we are experiencing an unprecedented time of challenging circumstances. This pesky virus along with mandated social isolation and limitations placed upon individuals is upsetting to many. When we add into this situation an increase in responsibility with fewer resources available in terms of income and services, we have a hotbed for an increase in symptoms of depression and other serious mental health issues.

Sometimes depression occurs for the first time due to a hardship or situation. I would not be surprised to discover a much higher number of both males and females suffering with symptoms of depression and/or an increase in the level of negative symptoms in pre-existing cases.

Causes of Depression

There are a variety of causes of depression and reasons why people become depressed. A mixture of genetics, brain chemistry, and family history each play a role in developing depression. Certain individuals may have a biological predisposition for developing mood issues when faced with overwhelming stressors.

When ample distress has been added to a pre-existing vulnerability, a person is likely to become troubled in areas of mood regulation with symptoms ranging from anxiety to depression or a combination of both.

Underlying medical conditions (such as hormonal or thyroid issues), use of medications or substance abuse (prescription medication, alcohol, marijuana), a lack of adequate nutrition or physical activity, and any pre-existing addictions may all lead to or exacerbate symptoms of depression.

Family history also plays a part in developing depression. For example, research studies indicate that having a grandparent as well as a parent with depression doubles the likelihood of an onset of depression at some point in one’s lifetime.

Experiences of childhood neglect and abuse may also predispose a person to the development of depression at some point during the life span. Secrets and lies are contributors to depression even if you are the only one who knows what you are doing.

Symptoms of Depression

There is a wide range of assorted symptoms involved in each individual experience of depression. Each person will have a different combination of symptoms which fit one or more types or patterns of depressions.

A person may experience feelings of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness, fearfulness, irritable mood, or loss of pleasure in all or most daily tasks. Others may experience a loss of interest in sexual intimacy, significant changes in weight, sleep disturbance, significant changes in eating patterns (either loss of appetite or overeating), feelings of agitation or restlessness, or a loss of energy.

Some may experience feelings of worthlessness, difficulty concentrating, recurrent thoughts of death. However, in addition to having several of the above symptoms, an actual diagnosis of depression requires noticeable impairment in one or more areas of life, such as employment problems or problems at home.

Types of Depression

Depression can occur in shorter term episodes or be long lasting. Sometimes depression is accompanied with sadness, anxiety, or extreme changes in mood. Depression can also alternate with manic episodes. In extreme cases, a major depression can be accompanied by psychosis. Depression with psychosis can be caused by substance abuse or arise from a particularly challenging and overwhelming set of circumstances.

Once the root causes of depression are identified, the therapeutic remedy follows the root. Solutions offered are often tied to the mental health professional’s understanding of the nature of depression. One’s professional paradigm or viewpoint often tends to determine the type of treatment prescribed.

For example, a psychiatrist is likely to prescribe medications to address and enhance neurotransmitter functioning. A fitness-oriented mental health professional may focus upon your lifestyle and nutrition as a possible culprit in ongoing depression. In my practice, I take into consideration many possibilities of origin and then match the treatment to the individual’s needs and desires.

Relational and Spiritual Aspects of the Causes of Depression

Relational risks

There are both interpersonal risks as well as intrapersonal risks which contribute to the development of depression. While the word “interpersonal” denotes interactions between two or more individuals, the word “intrapersonal” refers to our relationship within ourselves. Intrapersonal relationship dynamics are often misunderstood or overlooked but are clinically significant contributors to mental health problems.

The most common intrapersonal cause of depression is a pattern of saying “yes” when you genuinely feel inclined to say “no.” Such behavior is an example of self-betrayal, which is not something God asks of us. In fact, when we are following Scriptural guidance our choices will be made from a place of love and not a place of fearful control.

Overriding your intuitive sense of what is occurring or neglecting to determine whether something asked of you is in your best interest undermines and destroys intimacy. This is because a foundation of trust is necessary to establish and maintain healthy intimate relationships. A pattern of ongoing self-betrayal is a recipe for relational disaster. This is one of the first things I pay attention to when getting to know a new client.

Another relational risk contributing to depression occurs when you have a pattern of spending time in the company of people you genuinely dislike or who are unkind or unsafe for you.

Do you tend to over give without receiving in a reciprocal fashion over time? Do you find it difficult to speak up when something matters to you? Is it difficult for you to make your preferences, opinions, and needs a priority?

Are you able to fairly, yet firmly, inform others when you have hit a personal limit or want to establish a boundary to protect your best interest? Difficulties in any of these areas may be fueling or feeding symptoms of depression.

Spiritual risks

Making fear and anxiety-based decisions from your head that do not take into consideration the wisdom and knowledge of your body can lead to anxiety and depression.

It is therefore of utmost importance to be involved in an ongoing process of being changed by the renewing of your mind through exposing yourself to truthful and accurate streams of information, such as reading your Bible on a regular basis and attending services wherein the Word of God is spoken. God tells us to be “transformed by the renewing of our minds,” which involves placing yourself in front of reliable sources of truth.

“Do not copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” – Romans 12:2, NLT

Spiritual causes of mental health concerns often involve a kind of misalignment with truth and honor. When we tune into the fearful channel of deception or repeatedly behave in ways that violate our own sense of right and wrong, we become unable to see, hear, or discern truth. Then we tend resort to ill-advised attempts at controlling others, becoming even more small-minded in the process of manipulation.

Maybe during times of disagreement, we tend to resort to sarcastic puts downs of self and others. Or perhaps we engage in name calling, use exaggeration, portray a sense of entitlement, or are generally unsafe people in relationship with others. The antidote to this kind of depression is to root out deception and tune into the faith channel made available to each of us by the grace and mercy of God.

Lifestyle Risks

Other often overlooked contributors to depression include what I refer to as lifestyle risks. As previously mentioned in this article, alcohol and substance abuse contribute to the likelihood of developing depression, as do addictions such as gambling, pornography, binge eating or substance abuse, and prescription medications. Behaving badly, dishonoring agreements, a lack of proper and adequate self-care, being involved in deception, and living a secret life are all ingredients in a recipe for mood disorders and especially symptoms of depression.

Christian Counseling for Depression

In summary, there can be many different causes of a depressed mood and sometimes it may not be preventable. Other causes of depression could be situational or related to loss.

In my clinical practice, we will first look for any biological basis for your pattern of symptoms. From there, we will also examine your lifestyle and nutritional habits. Then we will carefully examine your relationships with others, yourself, and God for areas of misalignment. Please come back next month to read a follow-up article addressing the treatment and resolution of depression from a faith-based perspective.

Feel free to contact me or one of the other practitioners listed in the counselor directory to schedule an appointment.

Photos:
“Alone,” courtesy of Jude Beck, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Solo beach walk,” courtesy of Saksham Gangwar, unsplash.com, CC0 License 

What Does the Bible Say about Depression?

The word depression gets used quite a bit in society. You might hear things like, “You look depressed” or “You are depressing me.” Depression is discussed pretty casually despite being a serious mental health condition that, according to the Depression and Bipolar Health Alliance, affects 7.1% of the population, which is over 17 million Americans.

Unfortunately, despite the severe impact the condition is having on our society, many refuse to acknowledge it as a real issue. Instead, people encourage each other to “feel better” or “stop being so blue,” as if depression was a choice.

The same attitude is also often true in the church. Many Christians assume that it is sinful to feel depressed and are striving to experience the joy of the Lord. This mindset is only perpetuated by fellow churchgoers and church leaders who don’t have space to hear and be with people who feel the weight of depression.

Instead of sitting with them in their pain, many choose to quote some Christian truism to their pain, saying something like “maybe this pain is a blessing in disguise” or “you have to let go and let God.” While ultimately these statements may be theologically accurate, they do little, if any, good for those experiencing depression.

Is there any discussion of depression in the Bible? Yes, there are a whole host of verses speaking to the issues of sadness, heartbreak, sorrow, and despair, which are all symptoms and feelings caused or associated with depression. Let’s take a look at several key passages on this topic that will give us a taste of what the Bible has to say about depression.

What Does the Bible Say About Depression?

In the Depths of Despair, He Cares

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest. – Psalm 22:1-2

This is one of the most famous cries in all of Scripture. It appears both here in the Psalms and is quoted later by Jesus on the cross. The cry encapsulates the experience of facing the limits of despair, as clearly displayed on the cross. In the Psalms, the psalmist expresses his pain by articulating his inability to find peace by day or by night.

What is important to notice about this Psalm is the raw vulnerability with God. In the midst of his anguish and despair (i.e. depression), he cries out to God. He doesn’t run from God or try to act like everything is alright. Instead, he cries, wails, and beats his chest as a sign to God that everything is not okay.

And God isn’t angry at him, rather God, in His perfect love, wants to meet him in His darkest places of despair. Some may see this as an affront to God, but it is actually an invitation for God to meet with the psalmist in the valley of the shadow of death where God can and will comfort him. We are able to issue God this same invitation.

The Lord Restores

I waited patiently for the LORD; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.  He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him. – Psalm 40:1-3

Here is another Psalm of deep authenticity and vulnerability. In this Psalm, the psalmist again verbalizes that in the midst of his troubles, he came to the Lord. He didn’t hide or act like he was okay. Instead, he was present, raw, and real with God in the midst of his depression, acknowledging his feelings and need for God.

As a result, we see God lift him from the depths of depression. It’s important to not jump too quickly to the resolution of the Psalms. If we do, we miss out on the real heartbreak and despair that the psalmist is feeling. And it is also important to recognize that everyone’s timeline will be different.

All we get to see is the recounting of the Psalm, we don’t know how long he waited before he was lifted up. The wait might have been a long time, so don’t be discouraged if your depression has been around for a while, in time it will be relieved.

The Father of Compassion

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. – 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

While the two Psalms above focus on our human experience of depression, this passage highlights the truth of God and His love for us. He is the Father of compassion, and He comforts all those in trouble.

This is a promise to everyone going through difficulties, such as depression. He doesn’t promise that we won’t go through difficulties, but He promises to be with us and comfort us along the way. This passage also explains that our suffering is not useless because, in its proper time, it will be used for the good and benefit of His kingdom when we can comfort others.

Lay Your Burdens Down

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. – Matthew 11:28-30

Depression is a weight. It can feel so heavy at times you don’t know how to function. You might find yourself lying in bed with absolutely no motivation to get up, anchored down by your depression. Or maybe you can get up, but you find yourself sitting at work with an absent mind unable to do what you need to do.

This is the unseen weight and burden of depression. The promise in this passage is profound. Jesus wants your weight. He wants your depression. He wants to unburden you, so you can live freely. This is no small thing, and it may not come with a quick fix, but at the end of the day, this is Jesus’ heart and longing for you to live in freedom from your burdens.

In Him, There is Victory

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. – Isaiah 41:10

Finally, this passage is a tremendous boost in confidence. This is a very triumphant Bible verse for depression. If you feel like you just can’t make it and your depression is overwhelming you, take heart. God is for you. He is your God.

Throughout the Old Testament, God acts as the mighty warrior for Israel, going to battle on their behalf. God is fighting for you too. When you feel unable to stand, God is there to stand for you. This might mean giving you the strength get back up or have that hard conversation, or maybe it means God will intervene and change the circumstances.

Either way, the point is God is with you and for you. Take comfort in this on the darkest days, remembering you have a warrior fighting for your cause.

Conclusion

God loves us deeply and His heart breaks as we experience the heavy weight of depression. There are many Bible verses for depression. In the midst of the pain and apathy, we must remember God cares and that this is an opportunity for Him to meet us in our weakness.

Don’t hide your depression from God, come to Him with your feelings of despair, asking for Him to lift your burdens. Hopefully, this list of Bible verses for depression will help you remember that He deeply loves you and can handle your sorrow.

Signs of Depression in Women (and What to Do)

Most women will have a variety of roles in their lives such as daughter, wife, mother, friend, employee, caregiver, and so on. With each of these different roles, there are natural ups and downs that are simply part of everyday life. Changes in mood brought about by things like fights with partners, work-related stress, and hormonal changes are very common, and not a cause for concern.

These types of emotional responses are usually short-lived and emotional balance restored within a few days. For women with depression, however, low mood is not limited to life stresses and does not simply go away once the immediate stressor has been resolved.

In depression, the symptoms often get worse over time and begin to have a significant impact on day to day life and relationships. Unfortunately, this often then becomes a vicious cycle in which many women feel trapped.

According to the statistics, approximately 15 million people in the United States suffer from one or more episodes of depression every year, and an alarming majority of these are women. In fact, depression is considered to be one of the most common problems that women in the United States experience and research has shown that women are up to twice as likely to be impacted by depression than men.

Additionally, depression tends to affect women earlier in life than for men, and episodes of depression in women are generally longer lasting and more frequent than for men.

Different Types of Depression

When symptoms of depression have a significant impact on daily functioning and are persistent, then a diagnosis of clinical depression is usually made. It is important for women who are struggling with this kind of depression to seek help from a medical professional or counselor.

Professional advice can begin to uncover the underlying causes of depression and help to formulate a treatment plan to ease the symptoms. The most common types of depression that women experience are:

Major Depression

A woman experiencing major depression will find that their daily life is considerably affected by their symptoms. Aspects of life that may be affected include work performance, sleep quality, and appetite.

In addition, major depression interferes with a person’s ability to experience pleasure or happiness, so things that a woman previously enjoyed may no longer be enjoyable.

One of the areas in which major depression has the greatest negative effect is in relationships. Women with major depression also tend to experience severely low self-esteem, which also has a considerable impact on their daily functioning. Major depression can be long-lasting and often reoccurs.

Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression is considered to be unique to women, and generally affects women who have recently given birth to a child. While many women will experience low mood, often referred to as “baby blues”, as they adjust to the new addition in their life, postpartum depression is much more severe and causes significant difficulties for women.

The fact that most people consider the birth of a baby to be a cause of celebration only exacerbates the difficulties for women with postpartum depression. Symptoms usually develop in the first few months after giving birth, but in some cases, symptoms may emerge during pregnancy.

Persistent Depressive Disorder

Although generally less severe than major depression, persistent depressive disorder, as its name suggests, persists for longer than other forms of depression. With this form of depression, symptoms can last for over two years and may be complicated by additional episodes of major depression.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

Most people will know what premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is, and many women experience this on a monthly basis, with erratic moods and irritability. These symptoms are relatively mild and very common. However, premenstrual dysphoric disorder occurs much less frequently and is a form of depression that is closely linked with a woman’s menstrual cycle.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder is much more serious than PMS and has a profound effect on women’s lives. Symptoms include anxiety, extreme anger, debilitating mood swings, appetite fluctuations, and suicidal thoughts and impulses.

These symptoms tend to appear up to a week before menstruation and fade as soon as the menstrual period begins. Symptoms are extreme enough to have a significant impact on daily life and relationships.

Other types of depression that only women experience include perinatal depression and perimenopausal depression. These hormonally-linked disorders occur at different life stages and can be debilitating for women.

What Causes Depression in Women?

Because of obvious differences between men and women, the causative factors for women are different from those for men. Hormones are high on the list of causes of depression in women, followed by varying stress responses, and social pressures that only women experience. There is a wide range of possible causes of depression in women, including genetic, hormonal, psychological and social issues.

Biological Causes

Biologically speaking, depression does tend to run in families. Research in genetics has shown that there are some genetic profiles that have a higher risk of developing depression, and others that lead to types of depression that are treatment resistant. However, genetical research cannot accurately predict who will or won’t experience depression.

Even though someone may have a higher genetic risk of experiencing depression, this does not guarantee that they will. Despite genetic risk factors, there are other aspects of life that may act in a protective way against depressive symptoms. Resiliency can be provided by strong family and social relationships.

In addition to genetic aspects, other biological risk factors for depression include fertility issues, pregnancy issues, perimenopause, menopause, and issues related to menstruation. There is a naturally increased risk of depression linked to hormonal changes and imbalances.

Chronic illness, health issues, disability and even stopping smoking can also increase the risk of experiencing depression for women.

Psychological Causes

Psychological causes of depression seem to be evident more frequently in women than in men. This may be due to women being generally viewed as more emotional and having the tendency to express emotions more than men.

Such factors mean that women have a greater likelihood of ruminating on negative and unhealthy thoughts, which creates a vicious cycle that prolongs depressive episodes and results in a greater severity in symptoms.

Women are also more likely to have issues related to body image and have less resilience to stress. Reduced stress resilience has been linked to high levels of the hormone progesterone, which can impede the balance of other hormones.

Social Causes

Women have different ways of coping with stress, react differently in relationships, and make different lifestyle choices when compared to men, and these differences impact their likelihood of developing depression.

For example, statistics have shown that more women experience depression due to relationship or marriage difficulties, struggle more as a result of poor work-life balance and have a greater likelihood of becoming depressed following financial problems and distressing life events such as a death in the family.

Factors that impact the risk of developing depression that are not exclusive to women include the effects of an abusive childhood, family history of mood disorders, and substance use.

Common Signs of Depression in Women

People experience the symptoms of depression in different ways, and their symptoms may present differently, differing in terms of frequency, severity, and symptom combinations.

Some of the most common symptoms of depression include:

  • Feeling hopeless, being overwhelmed by despondency, misery, and anguish
  • Being uncharacteristically irritable, anxious, and feeling guilty
  • Severe, unexplained exhaustion
  • Losing interest in things that were previously important and pleasurable
  • Struggling with concentration, being unable to make decisions, poor memory
  • Suicidal thoughts and actions
  • Disrupted sleep, insomnia, wanting to sleep all the time
  • Lack of appetite or comfort eating
  • Physical issues such as aching, headaches, digestive upset, persistent pain
  • Having no energy
  • Feeling out of control
  • Crying a lot, or feeling constantly on the brink of tears
  • Panic attacks
  • Feeling constantly on edge
  • Not being interested in people or activities

Differences in Depression for Women Compared to Men

Some of the differences between men and women’s experiences of depression include:

Women

  • Women are more likely to use food as a means of coping with their symptoms, developing unhealthy eating patterns
  • Women struggle more with feelings of lethargy and nervousness
  • Women experience more anxiety and fear
  • Women tend to feel responsible for their symptoms and inability to recover
  • Women struggle with sadness, poor self-worth, and experience apathy as a part of their depressive symptoms.
  • Women tend to retreat from conflict while battling depression
  • Women are more open in discussing their depressive symptoms, particularly their doubts and sense of despondency

Men

  • Men’s coping mechanisms are often more destructive in nature, particularly involving excessive alcohol consumption, sex, TV, and sports
  • Men struggle more with feelings of agitation and restlessness
  • Men tend to be more reticent during episodes of depression
  • Men hold others responsible for their symptoms
  • Men often initiate conflict when struggling with depression
  • Men are more prone to concealing their feelings of despondency, so as to avoid appearing weak

While these are some of the frequent differences distinguishing between men and women’s experience of depression, there are always exceptions to these, due to the variable and fluctuating nature of depression. Research has, however, shown these differences to be largely consistent.

Some of the differences can be attributed to the inherent hormonal differences in men and women. Naturally, those symptoms of depression that occur in connection with pregnancy or menopause are hormonal in nature.

One other explanation for why men and women experience depression differently can be the different social demands and expectations placed on women and men. For example, society often seems to have the expectation that men will not show weakness or be open about their feelings. Women, on the other hand, are expected to talk about their feelings.

Therefore, the way that society determines what is and is not acceptable has an impact on men and women’s experience of depression.

What to Do About Your Depression Symptoms

For women struggling with depression, it is important to think about how factors such as hormones, lifestyle, stress levels and age impact on your symptoms.

For example, if you are pregnant, or intend to become pregnant while receiving treatment for depression, your physician will be able to discuss what medications you can and cannot take and advise on alternative ways of handling symptoms.

When you are taking medication to treat symptoms of depression, you should be aware of any potential side effects and note those that you experience. This is particularly important with side effects that can intensify the symptoms of depression. Always consult your doctor if you suddenly feel worse.

In addition to medication, therapy has also proven to be valuable in treating depression, and for many therapies is a success. It is important to find a counselor that you can trust and talk openly with, and anyone in therapy for depression should be prepared to work at understanding the roots of your depression and developing effective ways of coping with symptoms.

Self-care is a vital part of recovery from depression. Taking good care of yourself has been shown to have a positive impact on depressive symptoms. It also helps to have a support system of friends and family who you can depend on when you are struggling. They can help you avoid the trap of isolation that only worsens symptoms and provide encouragement in your everyday life.

Studies have shown that having face-to-face support from others is more beneficial than phone calls, emails, or social media. Getting exercise and having healthy sleep habits are also useful means of reducing the impact of depression. Spiritual practices, as well as relaxation or meditation, can help also.

It is thought that around two-thirds of people with depression struggle to receive the help they need. Sometimes this is because they are afraid to ask for help, or ashamed of needing it. It is better to seek help early rather than risk symptoms worsening, as depression becomes harder to treat as the severity of symptoms increases.

Trained mental health workers can help you to look at the reasons why you are experiencing depression and build strategies that will help you the most. It is important to remember that only a mental health professional can make a formal diagnosis of depression.

Although depression affects people in different ways and has profound effects, all cases of depression are treatable. Combining treatment methods is the most effective, but there is no universal treatment plan that works for everyone. Seek advice from a Christian counselor to start on the road to recovery.

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How to Find the Depression Help You’re Looking For

Depression is a serious mental illness that can become incredibly dangerous if it goes untreated. Unfortunately, due to the stigma that still surrounds mental health, many of those who suffer from this condition do not seek out the help they really need.

Depression is also very common. Millions of Americans will suffer from it this year alone. Despite its prevalence, one person’s experience of depression may be very different to another’s. It is a complex illness with many varied factors and an array of different symptoms.

The causes of depression also vary. Links have been made between depression and negative life events, genetics, environment and overall levels of stress. Some types of depression will grow more severe over a number of years, while others may be confined to a “depressive episode” that might have been triggered by a life event.

Types of Depression

The following types of depression are very common and affect millions of people worldwide.

Clinical Depression

Clinical or major depression may be linked to genetics, hormones or even biological changes. This type of depression may prevent the sufferer from enjoying those things that used to give them pleasure. They may experience intense sadness and might find themselves getting easily irritated and angry.

Other symptoms might include loss of memory loss аnd a reduced interest in ѕеx. Every day may feel as if it is an uphill struggle, аnd thе ѕuffеrеr may stop ѕhоwing аny interest in their former hobbies. The duration of clinical dерrеѕѕіоn may be measured in уеаrѕ and can be absolutely debilitating.

Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD)

PDD іѕ a relatively mіld category оf depression that lasts for at least two years. It may not be the most severe level of depressive feeling, but it is there churning away in the background.

Sufferers may feel as if it has lasted for as long as they can remember. PDD is distinct in that it manifests as a low level of depression that is ongoing – often for years – as opposed to major depression that often comes in the form of short bursts or “episodes.”

Atypical Depression (Subtype of Major Depression or PDD)

This is a subtype of Persistent Depressive Disorder and is distinguished by a very specific set of symptoms such as changes in appetite, weakness, environmentally based mood swings, excessive sleepiness, fatigue, sensitivity to rejection. Some of these symptoms are also indicative major depression or PDD.

Postpartum Depression

Thіѕ type of depression is sometimes known as “Thе Bаbу Bluеѕ.” It is common for women to experience some level of depressive feeling as their hоrmоnе lеvеlѕ change, they find themselves short on ѕlеер, аnd thеy are overwhelmed by the responsibility of parenting a child.

But postpartum depression is much more. The mоthеr may experience a heavy weight of dеѕраіr for an extended period of time. They may find it excruciatingly difficult to bond with the child, and may even feel a compulsion to harm their baby.

Manic Depression

Manic depression (also referred to аѕ Bipolar Dіѕоrdеr) iѕ a category оf dерrеѕѕіоn that is often represented bу times оf intense despair аnd mаjоr depression, fоllоwеd bу windows оf frantic hyperactivity and mania. These rhythms of depression followed by mania may occur for weeks or even months. Anyone suffering from this type of depression must seek professional help immediately.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Thеrе are some who find themselves falling into depression durіng fаll or wіntеr. Of course, many people feel a bit low when the evenings get darker and the days get colder, but SAD is more serious than that and may result in extreme feelings of hopelessness.

Therapists саll this condition seasonal affective dіѕоrdеr (SAD). People who are affected by the change of seasons plunge іntо dерrеѕѕion, cannot function normally, and may seem very similar to a person who is suffering from a mаjоr depression. However, those with SAD usually find that by the time the particular season ends, their mood begins to lift and they can function well again.

Practical Stерѕ to Fіnd thе Depression Hеlр Yоu Nееd

Consider some wауѕ that уоu саn find depression help :

Therapy

Talk therapy revolves around openly talking about уоur problems and feelings wіth a trained counselor. They may assist уоu in recognizing thought patterns or behaviors thаt are contributing tо your depression. Perhaps yоu will bе given some sort of hоmеwоrk, like trying to recognize the moments when your thinking begins to shift towards a depressive state. You may be encouraged to rewire those thought distortions; to trасk your mооdѕ, journal about your feelings, and develop a self-care plan. This wіll help you to progress with уоur treatment оutѕіdе of your sessions.

Yоur therapist may аlѕо provide you with еxеrсіѕеѕ for stress and anxiety reduction and hеlр to a better undеrѕtаnding of уоur illness. They may assist you in creating strategies to help identify аnd аvоіd trіggеrѕ thаt set off уоur dерrеѕѕіоn. A therapist саn аlѕо provide you with the tools needed to manage your depression when these triggers do inevitably pop up from time to time.

Medication

Medication is commonly used alongside the right therapy, as part of an effective treatment for depression. Sоmе people may use medication for a short time until their symptoms subside, while оthеrѕ may use them over the lоng-tеrm to stabilize their mental health. Common depression mеdісаtіоnѕ іnсludе:

  • Sеlесtіvе ѕеrоtоnіn reuptake іnhіbіtоrѕ (SSRI’ѕ)
  • Sеrоtоnіn-nоrеріnерhrіnе reuptake inhibitors (SNRI’s)
  • Trісусlіс antidepressants
  • Benzodiazepines

Self-care

Dерrеѕѕіоn саn make іt tough to take care of yourself in the most basic of ways. But actively taking part іn уоur trеаtmеnt and working with a professional to help уоurѕеlf cope wіth things саn mаkе a huge difference tо your overall state of mind.

Engaging in mental, physical, and spiritual self-care on a daily basis can improve your mental health and even lift your depression. There are many brilliant self-care ideas around, but here аrе just a few examples of some things you can try:

  • deep breathing (mental self-care)
  • regular exercising (physical self-care)
  • prayer (spiritual self-care)
  • journaling your experiences, feelings, and emotions
  • соnnесting with your loved ones and friends
  • getting sufficient rest

Making use of sеlf-care techniques fоr treating depression саn be very effective for іmрrоvіng your overall mооd. Discuss various strategies with your therapist to find the best tools for effective mаnаgеment of thе ѕуmрtоmѕ оf your depression. If you have some key emotional strategies in place to deal with your depression when it strikes, you will be much better equipped to cope when your therapist is not around.

Depression can often feel as if it is uncontrollable and impossible to treat. But it is manageable, though it should never be battled alone. Seeking out help for your depression does not imply weakness or inability to cope. Rather, it is an illness that must be treated as such.

Christians should understand that depression, itself, is not a sin nor should you be ashamed of it. Depression does not equate to a lack of faith in God. In fact, many of the great theologians of the Christian Church have suffered from depressive disorders.

The important thing to remember is to always be bold in seeking professional help when you are struggling. With the right combination of therapy and medication, depression can be managed effectively, and you can find greater freedom and strength in your battle against mental illness.

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5 Causes of Depression: The Common Culprits

statistics on depression reveal the extent of this widespread mental health condition – the National Institute of Mental Health estimates that in a single year, between 5-12% of people will suffer from at least one episode of major depression. These episodes can have a huge impact on the individual’s life.

When looking at lifespans as a whole, about 20% of people will suffer from a mood disorder at some point in their lives; this can include depression, anxiety, etc.

It’s more than likely that someone you know is living with depression, which may or may not have been diagnosed.

What Is Depression’s Root Cause?

Since depression affects so many lives, this leads us to ask what causes this condition. Psychologists have been exploring the possible causes of depression for many years. They’ve drawn some conclusions, but there are no easy answers, and the explanations we do have are complex and vary according to the individual.

Different Types of Depression

It’s important to give a definition of depression since the term can encompass a range of more specific conditions. The hallmark diagnosis is called Major Depressive Disorder, and under this umbrella are 14 more specific diagnoses that can be made by therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists.

When making a specific diagnosis, mental health professionals account for severity, whether or not the condition occurs in a repeating cycle, and whether or not there are psychotic symptoms present. In any of these categories, the standard minimum for diagnosis is a major depressive episode lasting for two weeks or more, with impacts on both mood and motivation.

Dysthymia is a long-term, less severe form of depression that can linger for years. Although it may not be as acutely painful, this chronic, continual condition can be exhausting and debilitating.

Another common type of depression is based on an adjustment disorder. This can be triggered by painful or stressful events, leading to a depressed mood, which can eventually turn into a major depressive episode.

A final significant type of depression to mention is bipolar depression, wherein the sufferer fluctuates between low and high moods. The “high” of bipolar can feel pleasant but often triggers destructive behavior.

The common thread running through the various types of depression is a long-lasting period of sadness and lack of motivation.

Since depression presents in so many different ways, it’s vital for therapists to ask a lot of questions to make an accurate diagnosis. For example, an adjustment disorder with depression might be based on the environment or circumstances more than brain function, and this can be processed in therapy.

By contrast, it can be hard to pinpoint the cause of a major depressive episode. These episodes can start suddenly, overwhelmingly, and seem to have no rhyme or reason. This type of depression is often based on brain chemistry issues. A psychiatrist may be most helpful in this case.

Possible Causes of Depression

Let’s take a closer look at some of the common causes of depression:

Neurotransmitters

A popular commercial created a visual for depression using a two-dimensional blob bouncing around in black and white with a huge frown on its face. This is, of course, an oversimplified caricature of depression, but it does point to the reality of neurotransmitters in the brain, as the illustration included little triangles floating between two knobs corrected to larger neurons.

This illustration managed to demonstrate the possible imbalance of chemicals that can have a significant impact on our mood and mental health.

Neurons are cells that transmit information throughout the body and brain. They have the capacity to fire signals that allow us to think, experience emotions and memories, and maintain both voluntary and involuntary control over our physical functions.

Serotonin is a specific neurotransmitter that has a positive impact on mood. Dopamine is another. Antidepressants work by balancing neurotransmitter levels.

It can be challenging to medicate depression effectively because of the complexity of the brain and how widely the response differs based on the individual. Finding the right antidepressant can require a period of trial and error.

Other steps can be taken in the meantime, however, such as exercising and improving one’s diet. These can help ignite the process of recovery. Of course, the nature of depression often makes it difficult to find the motivation to be more active, but if you can incorporate it into your life you can see a positive change to your mood very quickly.

Genes

Genetics is another major factor in depression. Your chances of developing depression are much higher if you have a family member suffering from it, especially if they are a parent or sibling. Genetic predisposition is a powerful component in this disorder.

Genes affect brain development and how neurotransmitters interact, but they are not a decisive predictor. Even identical twins do not have a 100% correlation between brain disorders. And some people are depressed even without a family history of depression. This is why we say that while genes increase the likelihood of depression, they do not cause it, but are often combined with other factors, such as the next one.

Environment

One professor described this cause of depression as a gun that was loaded by genetics, with the trigger being pulled by the environment. If someone is genetically predisposed to develop depression, they will often be triggered into developing it by their environment.

Examples of environment include workplace stress, the loss of a loved one, or even the weather (as seen in seasonal affective disorder).

The environmental category also describes a common threshold that would generally trigger depression in almost anyone, such as being oppressed or bereaved. Each person has an individual threshold at which they will inevitably suffer depression because we are humans who are susceptible to being affected by our circumstances.

Anemia

This is a physical trigger for depression that can easily be overlooked. Anemia reduces energy levels, leading to reduced motivation and often low self-esteem. This might present as depression, however, the cause isn’t a chemical imbalance, but a lack of iron in the blood.

When someone who is anemic experiences this sadness and lack of motivation, they often seek therapy and describe symptoms of depression, but any prescribed antidepressants won’t help. After a long period of trying to find the right medication, the feeling of depression will linger, fueling a sense of hopelessness.

It’s important to consider whether low iron might be contributing to your mental condition. You could ask for a blood test, or even just try to eat iron-rich foods more often and test their effects on your mood.

Spirituality

It’s important to note that depression is not your fault because you’re too sinful or not praying enough. The assumption that a person’s depression is because they’re out of line spiritually has inflicted a lot of damage.

This is evidenced by the fact that many individuals who have major sin issues do not have depression, while people living moral lives often struggle with depression. This situation is not hopeless; God can use our emotional state to draw us closer to Himself.

One common factor in this category is gradually withdrawing from spiritual habits that helped fulfill us in the past, such as Bible studies, small groups, or volunteering. Although it can be tempting to isolate when depressed, maintaining social connections and spiritual activities can be crucial to keep a depressed person from spiraling further downward.

People often withdraw because of their depression, not the other way around. Therefore, know that it’s important to intentionally stay involved and that it can help your mood and sense of personal value.

As we’ve discussed, depression is often rooted in physical causes, and we should be confident that we can ask God to provide both physical and emotional healing.

Treatment for Depression

Depression often consumes the life of someone suffering from it. Treatments must address the wide range of issues that can contribute to this mental condition. According to research, a combination of both therapy and medication generally provides the best outcome for sufferers.

If you’re depressed, you might feel trapped in a pit that you can never climb out of. Medication can be like someone tossing a rope down into the pit. You’ll need to put in the work to climb out, but that is a much more achievable goal when you actually have a rope.

Some people are in deeper pits than others. If your pit is more shallow, you might be able to climb out without the help of medication, but for others, that’s not possible. This isn’t a judgment about your worth as a person; it’s just a matter of assessing your individual situation and responding in the most helpful way.

The act of seeking therapy alone often jump starts the recovery process. Christian Counseling Newport Beach can work with you to make progress in various areas of your life. He or she can also identify any thought processes you have that contribute to your mental health condition so that you can challenge false beliefs with truth.

For some, simply identifying the depression and processing it is enough to begin to climb out of it. A psychiatric referral may be in order to help you identify a medication that can work for you. And in general, therapy can help you uncover the cause(s) of your depression and start you on your healing process.

 

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What are the Symptoms of Depression? Find Out Here

“Am I depressed?”

This question comes up a lot in conversation nowadays, even when speaking casually. It’s part of our cultural language.

“That’s really depressing!” “Wow, I’m so depressed about this.” Being in a state of depression seems almost normal. The word is used in everyday conversations and is in some ways an expected part of life. On television, depression is shown as an expected occurrence after a breakup, trauma, or even as a joke or on cartoons.

As an example, consider one of your favorite TV show characters who you think of as being depressed. What about their behavior points to depression? Are they truly experiencing depression, or is it just sadness inherent to being human? Is their emotional state caused by circumstances or who they are on the inside?

The answer completely depends on the individual. Some people suffer from depression that was passed down genetically with a strong biological component, while for other people a specific situation or a crisis experience in their lives can suddenly bring on depressive symptoms.

The common experience of sadness may resemble depression without meeting clinical criteria for the mental illness. Sadness can also stem from other kinds of disorders. For this reason, it’s best not to jump to the conclusion that your condition is depression; it could have any number of causes.

Even though the word depression is often thrown around, many are still wondering, “What are the symptoms of depression?” Sometimes the condition is obvious, and other times it’s not. True depression is an overwhelming sense of sadness, but not every depressed person will manifest identical symptoms.

It has been estimated 6.7% of adults suffer from depression (National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH], 2015). The most common groups affected are women and young adults between 18 and 25 years old (NIMH, 2015). Although depression is found in all ethnicities, its prevalence varies by race. Onset is typically found in the early thirties (Anxiety and Depression Association of America [ADAA], 2016).

Again, depression will manifest differently based on the individual, and its presentation can be very nuanced. It does not discriminate based on age, socioeconomic status, or level of education, and it can even change based on what season of the year it is.

Demographics don’t limit the prevalence of depression.  It is a widespread issue that affects the mental health of millions of people; and at the same time, it can be hard to diagnose properly. If you believe you might have depression, you should seek the advice of a doctor to rule out any physical causes that may need medical care. Once other causes have been ruled out, many physicians will give you a referral to a mental health professional so you can seek a diagnosis and treatment plan.

Getting a specific diagnosis requires that you be assessed by a professional. But here are some of the most common indicators of depression; these can help you assess your current state.

What are the Symptoms of Depression?

Emotional Changes

Emotions are one of the first factors to be affected by depression. You may experience sudden and unexpected mood swings, or your typical emotional fluctuations may become more intense and frequent. These can include feelings of irritability, anger, restlessness, or tension.

Guilt is another common emotion connected to depression; you may think about past events or current issues and feel overcome with shame. You may feel suddenly consumed by thoughts about death, and you might feel overwhelmed by hopelessness or a sense of personal worthlessness.

Crying more than usual is another symptom, even when things appear outwardly fine. Taken together, symptoms like these can be very alarming and upsetting, and you might feel out of control and overwhelmed. Anxiety is often closely connected to depression.

These are common thoughts you might have:

“My family would be better off without me.”

“Things will never improve.”

“It’s all my fault.”

Apathy

People suffering from depression often experience a lack of interest in things they usually enjoy. This can show itself either through lessened enthusiasm or a complete absence of motivation to engage in things that typically interest you. A project you’ve wanted to start for months suddenly feels like it takes too much energy. The Friday night plans you looked forward to all week just don’t sound very enticing. You know there are changes you need to make in your life, but the motivation just isn’t there.

As for setting goals and reaching new milestones, it’s not even on your radar right now. Everyday life itself seems like too much work. It’s hard to concentrate on getting the necessities accomplished, much less on enjoying exciting activities. You might end up staying home a lot, lacking the desire or capacity to even go grocery shopping.

You might feel stressed by the thought of new experiences you would usually enjoy. Many people lose interest in their romantic relationships and experience a loss of libido. Guilt can wrap itself around your thoughts until you feel like a waste of time for your partner, or perhaps you just feel too exhausted and despondent to make an effort in your relationship. Everyday life seems excruciatingly difficult, and you just don’t want to try anymore.

Things you might notice yourself saying:

“I realize that Thursday night is basketball night, but I just can’t manage it this week.”

“Can we go out to dinner another night? I’m just not in the mood right now.”

“I’m usually so good at keeping up with my work, but right now I just can’t and what’s worse, I don’t even think I care.”

Weight Changes

Sudden changes in weight are another red flag for depression. Stress often causes a change in appetite, whether that means eating more or less. Some people feel like they have to force themselves to eat. Depression causes a similar physical response in that it may either dramatically increase or decrease your appetite, ultimately leading to changes in your weight. Ongoing depression often makes it difficult to maintain a healthy weight.

Things you might notice yourself saying:

“I just haven’t been hungry this week.”

“Crying makes me hungry and when I eat I feel better.”

“My weight is sitting next to my emotions on a rollercoaster.”

Sleep Changes

Sleep is integrally connected to our wellbeing and is usually affected in some way by depression. Insomnia can haunt your nights, making it difficult to fall and stay asleep. Your mind may feel blank or it may feel overwhelmed with thoughts that don’t stop. Your sleep might be restless and interrupted by frequent wakings. This can cause intense frustration and the need for daytime naps, creating a vicious cycle where falling asleep at night becomes even more difficult.

A general lack of energy and motivation can also lead to a constant sense of sleepiness. You may feel exhausted all the time, even if you’re plagued by insomnia. On the other hand, you may sink into a state of such drowsiness that you sleep far too much. This is called hypersomnolence and leads to feeling tired all day.

Depressed individuals may experience a variety of abnormal sleep patterns while they suffer from this condition.

Things you might notice yourself saying:

“It has been the weirdest thing. I’ve been sleeping 10-12 hours a night and I still wake up sleepy!”

“I’m up all night. I don’t know what’s waking me up, but I keep finding myself awake for random hours during the night.”

“I just can’t fall asleep. I feel numb. I’m exhausted, but I can’t seem to fall asleep.”

Physical Changes

Since our minds and bodies are inextricably interconnected, signs of mental illness will often display themselves physically. Health changes may occur. The way you perceive yourself and your physical health may change. Your cognitive abilities may suffer. People with depression often experience headaches, stomach pain, and digestive problems. Jaw clenching and hand-wringing can cause chronic pain.

Some individuals with depression suffer from chronic health conditions or pain, which makes their mental state worse. On the flip side, depression can contribute to a physical environment that makes chronic illness more likely. People with depression often feel that they just process things more slowly, whether that’s in movement, speech, or thinking. Memory can be affected as well.

Things you might notice yourself saying:

“I just feel like staying in all the time. These headaches seem constant in the last month or so.”

“I feel like I just can’t pick up speed lately. I’m just not my usual self.”

“I keep needing to stay home from work with stomach cramps. I just can’t make myself go in like this.”

Christian Counseling Can Help Depression Sufferers

Depression is a pervasive mental illness, and it’s being diagnosed more frequently each year, but many people with depressive symptoms are never diagnosed, and many never seek treatment of any kind.

There is hope. If you feel that you’re exhibiting some or all of these signs of depression, it’s vital to seek treatment and discover the underlying cause. There are a variety of issues that can cause these symptoms, and it’s important to explore what’s going on.

Our counselors in Newport Beach often work with clients who are experiencing depression. We look forward to meeting with you to help you work on regaining your everyday functioning and enjoying your life again.

References

Anxiety and Depression Association of America (2016). Facts and statistics. Retrieved from https://www.adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics

National Institute of Mental Health (2015). Major depression among adults. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/major-depression-among-adults.shtml

Photos

“Be Still and Know,” courtesy of Chad Madden, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Down,” courtesy of Max Sandelin, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Think,” courtesy of Priscilla du Preez, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Alone,” courtesy of Mike Wilson, unsplash.com, CC0 License