Mental Health Awareness: Depression
Live long enough and we all will experience times where life knocks us down. Something we experience, be it a loss or trauma, a failed relationship or business venture, could cause us to slip into depression. Depression is defined as a) feelings of severe despondency & dejection; b) a mental condition characterized by feelings of severe despondency & dejection, typically also w/ feelings of inadequacy & guilt, often accompanied by lack of energy & disturbance of appetite & sleep. Other symptoms include: persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood, loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies or sex, sudden weight loss or weight gain, suicidal thoughts or attempts, & physical ailments that do not respond to treatment.
There are 3 main types of depressive disorders – Major Depression, Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD), & Bipolar Disorder & they can often occur w/ any anxiety disorders. Major Depression involves at least 5 symptoms for a 2 week period. It is usually disabling & noticably interferes w/ ones’s everyday life. This can occur after major life events such as a romantic breakup, a medical illness, or the loss of a loved one. Some with MD feel life isn’t worth living & will attempt suicide. In contrast, PDD usually lasts at least 2 years. Although less severe, it involves the same symptoms. It often manifests as stress, irritability, & mild anhedonia (inability to gain pleasure from most activities). Finally, Bioploar Disorder (formally called manic-depression) is characterized by severe highs (mania) or mild highs (hypomania) & severe lows (depression). The manic phase can involve abnormal elation, irritability, decreased need for sleep, grandiose ideas, increased sexual desire, inappropriate social behavior, & poor judgment. In the depressive phase one experiences the symptoms of major depression. Mood swings between the 2 phases can be gradual or very abrupt.
So where does all of this leave the beliver suffering from any of the aforementioned disorders? I’m here to tell you there is hope. Remember King David who suffered from anxiety? Well, he also experienced major depression – along with Job, Jonah, Paul, Elijah, Jeremiah, Moses, & the King of Kings himself… that’s right, even Jesus the Christ. Each and every one of these God fearing men contemplated ending his life as opposed to the torment of their existence. Jeremiah considered his birth an actual curse & Job’s depression was manifested in the pain in his bones. Yet, we consider all of these men to be great icons of faith & Godliness. Why? Because they brought all of their human frailty & their fractured soul to the one who could heal them & then they let it bring glory to God.
The bible tells us in Isaiah that Jesus is a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. This is because He’s been there, right in the grips of depression. He is intimately familiar with everything you’re feeling. As a result, Psalm 34:18 says “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” You are not a weak human being or less of a Christian. No matter what trauma you’ve endured, you are not damaged goods. Take each day as it comes & make a habit of identifying what triggers & accompanies the depression. The majority of our population does not seek help – don’t be like the majority. Talk to licensed professionals who can prescribe the necessary treatments. Should you take medication? That’s a decision which should be made after prayer & research. Use wisdom, in some cases medication is the best option. I pray you see that you are worthy of love & if you have attempted suicide, I’m honestly glad you failed.
If you are plagued with suicidal thoughts or fear for a loved one who is, please call the the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) day or night 24/7 & speak to someone before you take permanent action.