Sunday, July 02, 2006

Depression, pt. 2

There is a simple formula for dealing with depression; simple, that is, to understand and remember. It can be anything BUT simple to actually work the formula.

1. Face it: One of the most important parts of the pathway to wholeness is to admit that you are depressed. Too many look at their depression as a personal failure or a spiritual weakness (or even a sin!). That makes most people reluctant to seek help for depression. Others aren't even aware they are depressed. They miss the warning signs or assume they are just tired or maybe they have some mysterious disease... and it results in the suffering individual not getting the help they need.

2. Trace it: Why are you depressed? Do a survey -- preferably with the help of a trusted professional -- of the chemical, structural, and emotional aspects of your life, present and past. While being depressed is not a sin, sin can play a part in becoming depressed. When we have done something terrible, our guilt is compounded by how disappointed we are in ourselves. We thought we were better than that! Or, that we should be better by now! In my experience, sin is a causative factor in only a minority of cases of depression. Most people are depressed because of life, their chemicals or, perhaps, their genes, but not because they are evil or have done evil. Whatever the causes are (there is almost always more than one cause) they need to be traced and revealed.

3. Erase it: This is the step everyone thinks is the hardest... and it can be, but it often is much easier than the first two. As they say, your mileage may vary. Here is where the medicine and talk therapy kicks in. Generally speaking, to achieve healing, a change of mind, a different viewpoint, a new way of understanding will have to be brought to light and then accepted, owned. Medication might be required to give the sufferer enough strength or peace to get this viewpoint-shifting work done.

So where do you find a good counselor? The best way is to go to the Yellow Pages... but not to the therapist or counselor section. Go to "Churches" and call every church (any tribal affiliation) within your personal driving distance. People in rural areas might need to look at a one hour driving radius or more. Ask the secretary or pastor who that church trusts. Ask both about counselors/therapists and psychiatrists. Write every name down and highlight those who are mentioned by more than one church. Alternatively, go to www.aacc.net and get recommendations there by typing in your zipcode.

A note about medication: one of the most frustrating aspects of dealing with depression is the unlovable fact that finding the right dose of the right medication is mainly a crap shoot. Doctors generally go with the drug that has worked for their patients most often. They guess at a dose, usually going as low as they think they can go. Some people feel an immediate benefit from the medicine -- but they are the minority. Most people have to try three (on average) medications or dosages before the right combination is found for them. It can take a year to get it right. A medicine which worked wonders for 90% of those who took it might make the other 10% worse... and there is no way to know how it will work in your body ahead of time. Please, please, please be patient. Your doctor isn't failing on purpose. He/She wants to get this right as badly as you want them to get it right!

Other things you can do for yourself? That's for next time. Remember: depression is not sinful. God isn't disappointed in you. Your salvation is not in jeopardy. And if the devil tells you that you have failed or reminds you of your past, remind him of his future and walk on.

8 Comments:

At 7/04/2006 03:56:00 PM , Anonymous renee cutts said...

There are so many people in the church that are depressed, people who were anchors for other people and now seem to be floating in and out of dispair. It seems like an epidemic in the church but maybe it is just evident of our society and physical fall in the population at large and we are just seeing it in the church, too.

I want to encourage those people but how do I do it? I have suggested to some to see a doctor, a DO that is a national expert, who specializes in nutrition and allergy who has had great results in helping people with the chemical and physical side of depression but no one takes the advice. Food and exercise effects our chemical makeup and can help us find a balance in addition to the medicines. Why can't people see that?

They say it's genetic. I understand that but there are things you can do to help compensate a genetic failure and somethings are because of our failure to take care of ourselves, period. Medicines are chemicals, many of which came from plants-which are... food.

Taking the wrong medicine can be a very bad thing so consider that a bad diet can actually cause negative chemical effects that bring on depression. Food and/or exercise can also produce positive effect that can help with depression just like the right medicine can; if you have the knowledge to know what does what, thus I send them to an expert.

Grieving can bring on chemical changes, injury can bring on chemical changes, birth can bring on chemical changes, mental stress can bring on chemical changes, lack of sleep for whatever reason can bring on chemical changes, disease and suffering from that disease can bring on chemical changes, genetic defects can bring on chemical changes but all these things can be aided by diet and when possible exercise in addition to what the doctor prescribes as medicines.

As far as counselors, in our neck of the woods, you are lucky if you can find another of our tribe's church within an hour's drive. The few Christian licensed counselors there are overwhelmed and booked solid in or out of our tribe.

I went through a short period of depression after a difficult series of births and an injury that sent my system into meltdown. It took every resource, both spritual and physcial I could latch onto to recover from it. It's not something I want to experience again.

Some of the depressed seem so fragile. I pray for them, I try to encourage them and let them know how important they are, I give them information I think might be helpful but it doesn't seem to be enough. It frustrates me just to see what they are going through so I know they must feel run over. How best can we encourage and support them and make a difference?

 
At 7/04/2006 08:10:00 PM , Blogger Todd Mogilner said...

I really appreciate your blog. I like it's honesty. I really appreciate this post because this is a subject which I deal with all the time. In fact I am someday going to start a blog about my struggles of depression, and anger and being a Christian.

I have suffered from depression for the last 32 years. I have always had it. I have gone to several psychiatrist, even more counselors and have been on even more medication. All of them worked to some way, shape or form. In general that relief never lasted. Note: I am not saying this to say that other people won't benefit from therapy or from medication. I am one of those who are med-resistant.

I am a new Christian, I gave my life to Christ just over a year. Learning who my identity in Christ was an incredible discovery for me. Learning that I am valuable to Christ.

I believe their is a very BIG spiritual component to depression. I am not saying that depression is a sin or anything like that. If it is, I am in VERY big trouble. I am saying that if your focus is on Christ's grace and love it helps.

Depression is something I struggle with everyday. Wanting to die is something I struggle with everyday. I don't know if it is my flesh or Satan whispering these thoughts in my ear. I don't have those answers all I know is I am in battle.

Renee asks what she can do to help those who are suffering depression. My answer, be a friend, develop a relationship with them, a relationship full of Christ's love. Forget the rest, leave that to the experts.

I would do a lot for a friend who just wants to be my friend.

My point is this. I believe that depression is partially a spiritual disease. It steals the soul.

 
At 7/04/2006 08:13:00 PM , Blogger Debi said...

Thanks so much for writing on this subject. I suffer from depression - have been being treated for just over 3 years now. I did both the "talk" therapy in conjunction with the medication. I originally did the Zoloft route ... then switched to Wellbutrin XL ... and now simply use St Johns Wort (300 mg 3x per day). It works great! (... and doesn't have the weight gain side-effect that most others do.)

I especially liked your last sentence, "And if the devil tells you that you have failed or reminds you of your past, remind him of his future and walk on."

Thank you!! You give great advice here.

 
At 7/04/2006 11:22:00 PM , Anonymous renee cutts said...

Todd your post touched my heart. Be a friend is something Jesus would say, you have his heart. This world of ours has got me so busy taking care of this program or that program at church or this need or that need, throw in four children and a husband and I think I lost the art of friendship somewhere back in my teens when I had time for it. We need to make time for each other, don't we. I long for porch sitting days with a glass of lemonaide and a friend or two to laugh with. I work very hard to provide times for my children and their friends to enjoy each other's company but neglect that same treasure for myself. Thirty minutes of visiting after church a couple times a week isn't cutting it when it comes to the fellowship needs that adults have, too. I think I understand why the early church met daily. That may be why I have to get my daily dose of several blogs and forums. I appreciate the internet because it helps me feel connected to the greater body of Christ and it has challenged me spiritually in many ways. Most times in church I am either chasing one of my youngest ones down or trying to keep them quiet so they don't disturb anyone. If I happen to get lucky and have a real conversation, it usually gets interupted by a boo-boo or I have to rescue someone from my son mistaking them for a tree. Yes, I can see what you are saying, friendship may be the best medicine of all. With some of the depressed people in our church I'm always afraid of sticking my foot in my mouth, something I do very well, or saying something that will discourage them. Depression is intimidating in some respects, especially if you've ever been depressed yourself. 32 years has probably given you the wisdom of Job. I think we might all be in the same spiritual battle, Satan is playing both sides of the field, keeping the non-Christians from the Christians and the Christians from each other because he knows that's what we really need. What a friend we have in Jesus. We'd all be in trouble without Him. I have taken your advice to heart. Thank you for not being judgmental of me in my ignorance.

 
At 7/05/2006 01:40:00 PM , Blogger Steve Baggett said...

I attended a marriage seminar a few months back hosted by Drs. Jerry and Lynn Jones. They covered this topic and recommended some reading materials that my wife and I bought later. We found these three much cheaper than list on eBay or Amazon.com...

The Freedom from Depression Workbook (Minirth Meier New Life Clinic Series) by Les Carter, Frank Minirth List Price: $15.99

Unveiling Depression in Women: A Practical Guide to Understanding and Overcoming Depression by Archibald Hart, Catherine Hart Weber List Price: $12.99

The Feeling Good Handbook by David D. Burns List Price: $20.00

 
At 7/06/2006 12:00:00 AM , Blogger Todd Mogilner said...

Unluckily right now I am in midbattle the depression has a stranglehold on me. I don't have the patience, or the smarts that I should.

Everything i should be doing i am not, including turning it over to Christ.

 
At 7/08/2006 09:51:00 AM , Anonymous TinaMarie said...

I want to thank you for the reminder of what to tell Satan. He is always actively working in our lives to pull us down and get our focus off the TRUTH!
I know that when I am focused on the TRUTH of who I AM and most importantly WHOSE I AM, it helps me fight the depression.
The medication battle is not one fought only by the doctor and the individual. The insurance company hoas to have their say. The doctor started me on Wellbutrin XL and moved it to 300mg. For the first two weeks there was a voucher. The medication had minor side affects that my body was learning to deal with, which I also helped with Shaklee viatimins. When I went to get the perscription filled and went througn the insurance they would not approve it. We had to call the doctor and get it reduced to the two tablets a day. Do you know how hard it is for me to remember to take medication?!!! I always question if I took it. I think I need a weekly pill despenser, like the one my grandma used. :0) Now I have to remember twice a day. The insurance company would only allow the generic. I started the generic pills today and it's been about an hour. I have some hives on the back of my neck and my hands itch. Could this be related to the generic medication? Are they so different? I know that if the hives do not go away I do not think I will take the second pill for today and call the doctor on Monday. I may even go by the pharmacy and see what they can suggest. It always amazes me how many obstacles Satan will put in the way. When I read your blog today it reminded me that all the things that were really frustrating me and adding to my feeling like it's never going to get better, there is always a problem, nothing is easy were only attempts from Satan to keep me down. I will not let him win and since I have one on my side who is stronger, He won't win!!!!!!
Thanks.

 
At 9/09/2006 12:05:00 AM , Anonymous Lynne said...

While reading the comments to your two posts on depression, I was struck by the phrase "suffer from" in reference to depression.

I'll try and see if I can say this right. I do have depression. A few of my relatives have depression or a similar mental difficulty. I do not like having depression and I do not wish it on anyone. I'm not even feeling manically great right now, so from the midst of depression, I have to ask: do I, or any one, really suffer from this state?

Depression is a hard burden to carry around. (Thank God we have a Christ who called for us to cast our burdens upon him.) It often leaves you feeling disconnected or outside of "normal life." But I see an advantage to depression in it's tendency to take you out and to isolate. Seeing in from the outside lets you, you know, see things differently. So some of the world's greatest artists had depression (Van Gogh is an obvious one, Brahms another, Abe Lincoln struggled with it). Was it because they had great minds? Because they were depressed? Both?

Then again, I suffered and my family suffered when depression pushed me into the emergency room. But my mind asks, what about that phrase, "What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger?" I live in fear of losing myself again and, that time around, not leaving the emergency room. Am I stronger because I was there once?

I think I lost my train of thought.

Anyway, suffering from depression is also gaining from depression. A greater empathy for those around you. A desire to help anyone who is tied up in depression or emotional difficulty. Is depression inherantly evil?

But, truth is, if I was in the deepest pit of depression again, I couldn't get up out of bed and to the computer to ask these questions. I wouldn't care. Perhaps the state of depression is a inherantly wretched thing. And perhaps the aftermath of depression brings greater understanding and insight. The fight is to keep out of the pit. And the prize is to realize the rewards of living through it.

Is that suffering? Then isn't all life suffering? This ramble is done before I keep going on.

Oh, and thanks for writing.

(And why do they ask for word verification before posting if that coglomeration of letters below isn't a word in any language I know? Maybe it's Welsh. . .or Tajik?)

 

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