I am sure you know at least one person (or maybe you are that person) who is going through a rough time and feeling a down. This is normal—we are not designed to be happy all the time, and sadness is part and parcel of everyday life: it is very normal for our feelings to ebb and flow. We may feel like we are drowning in a sea of sadness and hopelessness. God wants to give us peace, but what happens when we can’t even reach for his extended hand to help us?
What happens when the sadness just doesn’t go away? What happens when you feel depressed all the time? How do you stop these emotions from affecting your ability to function or perform even the simplest of tasks? How can you help the people in your life who feel down and out?
Of course, many people are talking about depression these days. Some people claim that is a brain disease or chemical imbalance, while others say that it is just something that you just have to live with—you know, it is “in your genes”. In many cases, it is given as a label that can lock someone in: someone “is depressed”, which affects how they see and respond to their feelings, and how they react to those around them.
Depression is a mind issue: if you are conscious and breathing, you are at risk for depression, because, as a human being, you think and react to what happens in your life, which, in turn, affects your biology (i.e. the brain and body). Your mind, a core part of who you are, along with the “heart”, or deeper consciousness, is processed through the brain and body; everything is connected! And don’t forget, “as a man thinks (believes) in his heart, so he is.” This presents the spiritual aspect as well.
The causes of depression can be multiple: chronic stress, trauma, biological illnesses, broken relationships, grief and so on. Depression is an emotional warning signal that something big is going on in your life, and that you need to face it and deal with it. Kind of like how feeling ill after eating rotten food is a signal that something bad is going on in your digestive system and you need to get help.
This will look different for everyone, but some common signs that you may be experiencing depression are:
- Feeling hopeless and helpless (like you just have nothing to live for and can’t go on)
- Loss of appetite and weight changes
- Irregular sleeping patterns
- Physical and mental exhaustion
- Self-loathing and low self-confidence
- Indifference, and loss of interest in day-to-day things
- Risky behaviors (such as drinking while driving)
- Physical issues such as headaches, skin problems, hair loss and digestive problems
- Trouble concentrating and slow processing
- Dramatic mood swings
- Intense anger and irritability
- Feelings of burnout
If you or someone you know are experiencing any or all of the above, what do you do? Is there any hope?
The answer is an emphatic yes. Tomorrow we will look at how depression can be better approached.
Source: DR. Caroline Leaf/Adapted BH