Per Fidem Intrepidus means "Fearless Through Faith". My courage isn't my own, it comes from the Holy Spirit, it's my faith in God and my personal savior Christ Jesus that calms my fears and allows me to move forward in this fallen world. Personally I'm afraid of a lot of stuff, but having the faith that Jesus adopted me as his little, sin filled, brother keeps me going.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Depression is so Depressing

While the holidays are the time of peace and joy, it doesn't always work out that way. Emotions are always close to the surface at this time of year, and the stresses that come from our expectations, especially if the expectations are unmet, can overwhelm us. We can make ourselves so busy this time of the year: parties, family gatherings, shopping, church and school programs can evolve into alcoholic outbursts, family fights, shopping rage, and shear mental exhaustion. 

There's a lot of memories attached to this season, and much of our time is spent recalling days gone by, but that can bring up some bad memories also. Statistically over 25% of our losses occur around the holidays, and remembering the loss of a loved one during the holidays can generate a profound sense of loss and sadness. If that's not enough, a tradition of the popular media is to remind us of all the entertainers and news makers who passed away during the past year. 

As Christians we are better equipped to deal with depression than the non-christian community but we're far from immune from it.

By what I mean by "better equipped" let's look at the definition of Depression: A feeling of severe despondency and dejection, accompanied by feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy. As Christians we know we must give or lives over to Christ, to let Him carry our burdens, to trust in Him. Where depression is turning inward in our sorrow, Christianity is turning outward in everything, from joy to sorrow. We also trust truth more than our feelings, we know from Matthew 15:19
"For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witnesses, slanders."
Jesus was warning us to avoid feelings and use our brains in life, to trust truth.

Depression can be found throughout the bible, from David whose heart was overwhelmed with grief and sadness (Psa. 61:2, 77:2-3, 142:4, and 143:4), to Jonah, Jeremiah (Jer 15), Job, and Elijah (1 Kings 19). Even the great Apostle Paul himself had to deal with bouts of depression:
For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life (2 Corinthians 1:8)
5 For even when we came into Macedonia our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted on every side: conflicts without, fears within. 6 But God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us by the coming of Titus (2 Corinthians 7:5-6)
Depression effects us differently. Older Christians suffer depression more than younger Christians. Does this mean that spiritual maturity is an issue in depression? No, it means that older people have more biochemical and brain issues than younger due to their age. And it is rare that there is one causitive agent, generally there are several at work. Some causes of depression (in no specific order what so ever) are:
  • nutrient deficiency or excess
  • drugs (prescription, illicit, caffeine)
  • hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • hormonal imbalances
  • allergies
  • heavy metals
  • sexual abuse as a child
  • microbial overgrowths/toxins
  • medical conditions (stroke, heart disease, cancer, Parkinson’s, diabetes, thyroid)
  • natural light deprivation
What to do? First of all, concentrate on the cause and don't worry about the depression itself, unless it lasts a long time, like over a month. If it does, see a doctor, find out what the cause is and deal with it. Change your diet, concentrate on low protein, high fiber, low-moderate fat, and high complex carbohydrates. Low carb diets are poor; they actually lead to depression since carbohydrates are needed to get tryptophan into the brain, eat foods high in tryptophan: meats/poultry (turkey and chicken), tofu, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, raw nuts, eggs, lentils, and garbanzo beans. Don't discount natural light deprivation either, especially if you experience depression during the holidays, these are the shortest, darkest days of the year. There are treatments for natural light deprivation. 

Trust truth rather than your feelings. As I mentioned before Matthew 15:19 shows us that the heart is not to be trusted. If your heart is telling you that you're a horrible person, why listen? God is loving and forgiving and he knows you. Pray for guidance. Here's some other pointers:
  • Avoid being alone. Force yourself to be with people. 
  • Seek help from others. Your church community is a good place to start.
  • Music can uplift your spirit and ease your troubled heart. It worked for King Saul (1 Samuel 16:14-23). 
  • Paul's advice in Thessalonians is perfect for all times “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). 
  • Let God's Word heal your troubles, read your bible. Even if it's unstructured and simple stories you've heard from pre-school Sunday school, it's still his word. 
  • Know that God is there for you, let your soul seek comfort in his love “Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His presence” (Psalm 42:5).

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