Overcoming Depression

Everyone gets depressed in the sense that we all have bad days, even bad weeks.  We feel discouraged, lack energy, lose interest, fail to have fun.  Even things we enjoy doing stop being fun.  We sleep too much, eat too much (or canít eat at all).  Youíve been there.

The problem is that when we fail to snap out of this sort of depression in a couple of weeks, we are in danger of falling into a more serious depression.  When the brain chemistry changes, everything positive gets filtered out.  At the end of the day, all the bad things that happened come to mind (and everything is bad).  Even if we try, we canít think of anything good that happened.  We start digging ourselves a hole that becomes deeper and deeper day by day as we prove to ourselves how hopeless everything is.  We even blame ourselves and/or feel guilty because we canít snap out of it.

Check your anger

Some depression is repressed anger.  One lady couldnít name anything she was angry about.  Then she mentioned that she was involved in a lawsuit involving family members. Guess what!  She was trying so hard to be positive and helpful that she had lost touch with her feeling of anger.  Once she admitted she was angry, her depression lifted.

Catch 22 stuff will get us every time.  ďI canít be angry about that.Ē  We often feel anger even when anger is not appropriate.  People even become angry at a mate who dies and leaves them.  The anger may not make sense, but you may be feeling anger anyway. Check your anger.

Talk to your family doctor

You donít have to go to a psychiatrist or even a counselor to check your depression. Your family doctor can diagnose depression.  He may suggest an antidepressant.

If you had diabetes, would you take insulin?  An antidepressant helps get the brain chemistry back to normal.  You will have the same problems, but at least you will be able to think.  Counseling will help you sort things out, get in touch with things, learn some new skills.

Iím not a pill pusher.  However, depression is a medical problem once the brain chemistry changes.  I canít help people with the underlying stuff until we deal with the depression. Give a depressed person a hundred dollar bill and he will ask you why it is green and wrinkled.

Different kinds of depression

Not all depression is repressed anger.  Bipolar depression probably has a genetic factor involved.  You are still human, and you may be angry, but some depression can only be treated with medication.

The brain is an organ of the body.  Sooner or later, we must figure that out.  If chemical imbalances affect other organs and are best treated by medication, some depression must also be treated by medication.

A person who is manic depressive experiences ďhighsĒ in which sleep is not needed, energy is abundant, and judgment is poor.  When on a high, you may spend your savings on a wild idea that seems perfectly sane at the moment.  Suddenly, you crash for no apparent reason.  Actually, a change in brain chemistry has occurred.  At that point you may be so depressed that you can scarcely get out of bed.  Medication is essential in controlling bipolar depression.

Start with your family doctor if you donít feel comfortable with the idea of counseling. Think of a psychiatrist as a specialist in treating chemical imbalances in the brain.

By all means, avoid self-medication with alcohol or illegal drugs.  Much drug abuse is rooted in chemical imbalances in the brain. People try to feel better by drinking alcohol or taking inappropriate drugs and merely make things worse.

You are not weak

One myth is that only weak people become depressed.  Depression is not due to weakness. Men often avoid depression because society thinks it manly for them to express anger.  In fact, about the only emotion permitted in American society for a man is anger.  If you guys donít believe me, go to work and tell those guys they hurt your feelings.

Women, on the other hand, often keep anger in because they are supposed to be kind.  Most men will walk away and go fishing when the frustration becomes too great.  The woman, however, has the kids to consider and often finds herself the CEO of the family after she finishes her day job.

Iíve seen too many women in their forties who are all used up.  They have done for others until they have no energy left.  When the box is empty, you donít have anything left to give.

Dumping your anger may help you avoid depression, but it ruins relationships.  If you arenít depressed, you may be the person making everyone around you depressed. Walking off and taking care of number one may put some pleasure back in your life, but if you are neglecting your children (or your mate), you are creating other problems.

How to deal with anger is another topic.  The secret is learning how to express anger in a way that will not harm you or others.  Check the index.

You are not unspiritual

I know that some preachers say that if you are spiritual, you will never be depressed.  They have a right to be wrong, but they are hurting people by their error.  Most preaching deals with general principles whereas in my work I am forced to get down to specific situations.  You donít have to believe me, but at least consider that I may be right.

The great promises of the Bible are not dependent on how we feel.  Even when you are depressed and feel God has forsaken you, you are still in Godís loving care.

Remember, all truth is Godís truth, including truth about the brain and how it works.

A final word

If that yuck feeling continues for three weeks, if your energy level is down, if nothing is fun, if you canít make decisions, if you are having to work hard to do even simple tasks, if you canít snap out of it even when you try, at least see your family doctor if not a counselor.  The deeper you dig that hole, the longer the climb out of it.

Once the depression is under control, then you can deal with the underlying issues that may have contributed to it.

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(C) 2000, Don Mize