Understanding Depression

Filed in Thought For The Week by on 13 August 2013

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Understanding DepressionOne of the things that need to done when approaching the topic of depression is realizing that those who suffer from Depression, really suffer. Some believe you just “need to pull yourself together” and other say you “just need a positive mental attitude” while these may be contributing factors it does not nearly cover what depression is about.

One of the first things that need to be looked at is how does it make you feel when you suffer from depression. Just off the top of my head there are a couple of things that a person will feel that help to identify what kind of treatment is needed. There are at least nine symptoms that most people will identify with.  Common signs and symptoms of depression are:

  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. A bleak outlook—nothing will ever get better and there’s nothing you can do to improve your situation.

  • Loss of interest in daily activities. You’ve lost your ability to feel joy and pleasure.
  • Appetite or weight changes. Significant weight loss or weight gain—a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month.
  • Sleep changes. Either insomnia, especially waking in the early hours of the morning, or oversleeping (also known as hypersomnia).
  • Anger or irritability. Feeling agitated, restless, or even violent. Your tolerance level is low, your temper short, and everything and everyone gets on your nerves.
  • Loss of energy. Feeling fatigued, sluggish, and physically drained. Your whole body may feel heavy, and even small tasks are exhausting or take longer to complete.
  • Self-loathing. Strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt. You harshly criticize yourself for perceived faults and mistakes.
  • Reckless behavior. You engage in escapist behavior such as substance abuse, compulsive gambling, reckless driving, or dangerous sports.

These symptoms set out like this do not however begin to describe the darkness I know you feel when you are in the throes of a depressive episode.  The important things to recognize what triggers it for you. Once your feelings start spiralling no amount of positive talking can help you come out of that. But one thing I have learnt is that your feelings belong to you, they are belong to you, no matter how frayed and tattered you feel, your feelings are yours. Only you can do something about them.

I understand the darkness of depression, having gone through that in a almost yearly cycle, where I have felt in some instances a that “ a darkness would wrap around my soul, and I would despair even of life for many months. Many times such seasons in the soul would start with periods where I was sleep deprived for long periods of time. It is hard to keep your wits about you when you are chronically tired!

Many times there is not much you can do when are so chronically tired, but you have to realize this Is a fight, if you are a Christian it is a fight for your soul, you must realize is your friend and who is your enemy. John 10:10 say “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy:  I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly

Friend, Jesus is the Good Shepherd, if we are going to win this fight at all, we need to realize that first of all it is a spiritual battle. The affliction of the depressed is particularly painful because in many cases it affects your mind. So believing right is very important, it is important because wrong believing will cause you many times to do wrong things, C. H Spurgeon who himself was a sufferer of depression once said “ Your affliction is not the thing that will get you into heaven, you cannot plead your pain to a Holy God, just like others, you need to come God in faith and confess your sin and weakness to Him”. Having said that , we need to be very careful to not to Bible Bash people who are suffering with this particular malady. Isaiah 42:3 says very plainly that A bruised reed He will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out. Our Lord is a faithful and compassionate High Priest who is touched with the feelings of our infirmities. Yet we are not excused when we use our sickness as an occasion to sin.

Coming back to the depression itself, very often to have good self-understanding is helpful as we deal with this illness.  Some of the symptoms of more severe forms of depression like Bipolar or Major depression is likely to involve irritability, guilt, unpredictable extreme mood swings, and feelings of restlessness. It is important to note that you take care of yourself and very often taking care of yourself in this area is to get the correct medication to alleviate some the stress bought on by such symptoms. Doing sensible things like avoiding the things that triggers depressive episode can also help, avoiding excessive amounts of television, getting the right of sleep you need and amending your diet are all things that can help. Doing spiritual duties like your Bible reading and Prayers will not only help your state of mind but help to focus on where your help actually comes from !

Isaiah 26:3 says You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you” Keeping your focus is crucial giving the enemy of your soul a stick to beat you with is not good under any circumstances ( avoid worldly input from Internet and TV) rather be looking to the Lord, even in your moments of suffering.

Richard Baxter, Puritan Pastor and write who lived in in the 16th century had this to say in advising his congregants what to do about when they suffer from depressive episodes.

If you cannot otherwise command and turn away your thoughts, rise up and go into some godly company, or to some employment which will divert you, and take them up. Tell me what you would do, if you heard a fiend in the Street reviling you, or heard an atheist talk against God, would you stand still to hear them, or would you talk it out again with them, or rather go from them, and disdain to hear them, or debate the Case with such as they. Do likewise in your case: When Satan casts in ugly or despairing or murmuring Thoughts, go away from them to some other thoughts or business. If you cannot do this of your self, tell your Friend when the temptation comes, and it is his duty who hath the cure of you, to divert you with some other talk, or works, or force you into diverting Company. Yet be not too much troubled at the temptation, for trouble of mind doth keep the evil matter in your memory. And this is the design of Satan, to give you troubling thoughts, and then to cause more by being troubled at those, and so for one thought and Trouble to cause another, and so on as Waves in the Sea, do follow one another.

In short, if you suffer from depression, remember it does not take a day off. Depression is a bit like the devil, it does not take time off. Do not let your guard down, in times of peace there will be time for that but this is not time for peace until you walk into the arms of Jesus. The battle is set and you are at war, Proverbs 4 says well “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it Reach out and you will be helped.

Simon ThomasAuthor: Simon Thomas



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