Friday, October 12, 2012

...who suffers from bouts of depression?

Well, I'm pretty sure that the answer to the above question is a resounding NO!, but I have begun to be curious as to just how many this crazy beast pesters!  From a recent post on Facebook I have received numerous responses, some via private message, from others who deal with the dark curse of depression. Is there something that could be done to help combat this...this...THING?  Would it help if we actually felt as if we could TALK about it without being labeled un-spiritual or a less-than-worthy human being? 

My journey with the beast has forced me to look for some answers...some coping techniques...some aids to avoiding its pitfalls.  And armed with these coping techniques, I've hoped to beat the beast at its game - with God's help and guidance.  But it somehow still succeeds in getting the best of me at times.

I know, some would say, "Well, you have good REASON to be depressed." 

Then some also say, "Why would YOU be depressed?  Look at how God has blessed you!  Plus, it's a beautiful day outside!" 

Um, well, in case you hadn't noticed, depression doesn't really seem to take note of those things.  In fact, it seems to handily ignore them altogether.  It really doesn't seem to matter WHAT is happening in my life, depression kind of seems to take over just whenever it wants to.  It doesn't ask for permission.  And circumstances may contribute, but more often than not, they are just viewed through the eyes of the one consumed with depression as the culprits in this season of "ugh-ness."

I recently attended a seminar given by a man named Dr. Stephen Ilardi, PhD.  He has written a book entitled The Depression Cure.  His book and seminar give six steps to beating or at least coping successfully with depression without the use of drugs!  He acknowledges there is a place for medication, but his ultimate goal is to get all his patients living depression-free and not dependent on the meds.  (He obviously gives many details in support for his points in his book, but the basics, I believe, can be shared here since I am giving him full credit.)

He suggests that the following will help even in the most extreme cases...and he has had many patients prove him correct!  Here are his basic suggestions:
  • Lots and lots and lots of light - windows, light boxes, whatever it takes
  • Plenty of Omega-3s - high quality is preferred
  • Exercise - can start with just a little at first; a "coach" is very helpful in this scenario - to come alongside the depression victim and just ask them to come along for a short walk, etc.
  • Avoid "rumination" - Yup...just like cows, we "chew" on destructive thoughts when we need to distract ourselves by forcing a change in our thought processes.
  • Participate in meaningful activities
  • Be a part of a healthy community of people
Now, these are just off the top of my head, from what I remember from the seminar.  If you are at all interested, more information can be found here.

What do you think?  Have you tried any of these steps with either success or failure?  What helps bring you out of the downward spiral?  Do you see the signs and work to avoid the pit or does it get you before you realize it?

I am in the process of learning what types of things bring me down and how to catch the destructive thought patterns in formation, but there are still times when I have no idea how I fell into the pit again.  Maybe it's not something I CAN control.  Or is it?

Does God promise a depression-free life?  IS it a spiritual issue?  Is it something certain personalities tend toward more than others?  Please...feel free to share your thoughts.  I'd love some dialog on this...

For now, may God be with each of you and keep you whole and healthy,