I call Depression the "Indiscriminate Attacker," because it attacks everyone at some point...some
mildly...others in more extreme ways. I truly believe that all humans suffer bouts of depression at various times in
their lives...because let's face it...life can be hard, confusing and is full of losses and disappointments. Although
some people might experience a mild form of depression at the loss of a career, the death of a loved-one or at the on-set
of an illness, others can and do experience depression in deeper and long-lasting forms that steal their joy and ultimately
Regardless of "how often" or "how deeply" a person experiences depression, it
is mentally and emotionally very painful. In mild cases of depression, a person might feel "blue" for a few
hours or days, but overcome it rather quickly and return to feeling normal. For others, however, depression can be a
long-term, life-threatening and serious illness, literally destroying a person's ability to enjoy their life. The
good news is...there is treatment, regardless of the depth of depression.
CAUSES OF DEPRESSION:
Generally, depression has two causes: External events, such as the loss of a loved-one, rape, abuse, loss of a relationship,
divorce and so on...and Internal Causes, such as chemical imbalances within the body that affect the brain chemistry, or psychological
issues where a person in unable to mentally and emotionally handle the stresses they find themselves in.
good news is, there are treatments for each of these causes that have helped millions to overcome their depression and return
to a life of peace.
As I said earlier, this life can be very, very
difficult at times...leaving us unable to comprehend "why" something has (or is) happening to us and how to process
these events with any positive emotions or thoughts. For example, I have a dear friend who lost his son in a tragic
automobile accident a few years ago. Although this man is one of the smartest, most 'faith-filled' Christians
I've ever met, this tragedy was so overwhelming to him that he fell into depression. Any one of us could understand
that...regardless of his faith or understanding of Biblical things. Depression can attack and disable even the strongest
people. To deny that would be arrogant and ignorant.
In fact, in the following passage of scripture from
the "Amplified Bible," we find that even Jesus Christ Himself, suffered depression in the hours leading up to His
arrest, trial and crucifixion. And for goodness sakes...who could blame Him?
"And He took with Him
Peter and James and John, and began to be struck with terror and amazement and deeply troubled and depressed. And He said
to them, My soul is exceedingly sad (overwhelmed with grief) so that it almost kills Me! Remain here and keep awake and be
This type of depression is a natural reaction to very painful events. After all, mankind
was created to live in the splendor of the Garden of Eden...not to experience the pain of death, cruelty and great loss.
We were simply not created to handle such pain. The result...is depression and or anxiety.
As any doctor or scientist could tell you...humans are made up of a variety of chemicals.
Not only are we made of chemicals, we also constantly ingest chemicals through our food, drinks, touch and breathing.
When chemicals come together they often "react." Sometimes these reactions are pleasant...such as when we
enjoy our favorite Ice Cream...other times they are very unpleasant...such as when a certain food gives us heartburn.
Sometimes, certain chemicals...or the lack of them...can also have positive or negative reactions within our brains.
Since our brains control our emotion's and our grasp of reality...a change in brain chemistry can affect both. This
is why the illegal drug trade is so popular. Certain drugs (chemicals) create certain reactions within the brain and
therefore can change a person's emotions or sense of reality.
Within the healthy human brain, there are chemicals
that work together to produce a sense of 'normalcy' and feelings of well-being and security. When these chemicals
get out of balance, it can cause great emotional and mental disturbances that we commonly refer to as Clinical Depression
or Anxiety. In these cases, there are medicines available to help restore the natural balance of these chemicals...thus
a return to feeling normal. In some cases, treatment may be temporary, (6 months to 1 year), or might involve long-term
or even life-long treatment. Either way, this is a wonderful advancement in science and one that should be pursued without
feeling bad. Just like Sugar Diabetes is a chemical imbalance, which can usually be treated with medicines...so is Clinical
Depression and Anxiety. It is not a character flaw...it is a physical condition.
AND ANXIETY 'TRIGGERS':
Most researchers have come to agree that many people who suffer depression
or anxiety do so because they are more susceptible through DNA. In other words...they inherited it from their parents
Although some people are more susceptible to depression or anxiety through their genetic
make-up...it doesn't mean that all of these people will experience depression or anxiety. Often-times there is a
"trigger," that causes this genetic flaw to come forward. In other words, it's not uncommon for someone
to have a very "happy" and fulfilling life for a long period, when suddenly depression or anxiety seems to "come
from nowhere" and hit them hard. Because of this, they often view their depression as a character flaw...or that
their suddenly going crazy.
Some "triggers" would be obvious...such as a divorce, loss of a career,
loss of health, loss of a loved one, financial oppression and so forth. However, there are other "triggers"
that might not seem as obvious, such as: weight gain, growing older, baldness, stress and so forth. Stress is a
huge "trigger," for releasing both depression and anxiety. Stress is caused when our minds become overwhelmed
with things we are unable to control.
NEGATIVE THOUGHT PROCESSES:
Another reason for
the onset of depression or anxiety can be found in the way a person "thinks." Since our thoughts control our
emotions...it is easy to see why negative thoughts would leave us feeling bad.
This too...is DNA.
Everyone one of us is born with a certain and dominant "Temperament." This is something we inherited from
our grand-parents or parents. This is also why you often hear someone say, "You act just like your mother!"
(Or father, and so on).
Evidence has revealed that certain Temperaments are more inclined toward negative thinking,
while others are more inclined to positive thinking. It's the old "glass half-full or half-empty syndrome."
Again...our thinking is what controls our emotions, so if our thinking is negative, it is going to produce negative
emotions...oftentimes resulting in depression or anxiety. Again, this is not a character flaw...but a genetic flaw.
In the case of external causes of depression, time is a great healer.
Everyone experiences grief at a different level and for a different amount of time. Although anti-depression or anti-anxiety
medications can help a person in these cases for the short-term, it is not recommended long-term. Finding a great friend,
pastor or counselor who can help you understand the nature and phases of grief can really help you move through it much faster.
In the case of "Clinical Depression," the obvious answer is to seek medical help, since it is more of a
medical problem than an emotional one...even though it does effect the emotions severely. No one should ever be embarrassed
or ashamed to seek such treatment. It is a wise person that will seek help and begin the road to recovery.
In the case of "Stress-induced Depression or Anxiety," it is important that a person take a long look at their
life and discover things that are causing the stress. Although it is impossible for us to eliminate all stress from
our lives, it is possible to eliminate some of it, by identifying what is causing us stress and simply removing it from our
lives. For example: I was sitting home one night watching a new "Reality" show. The theme and
actions of the people involved were creating a stress-filled situation and I found myself stressed. I never watched
it again. There are many things like this that we don't realize are causing us stress...but they are. Learn
how to identify what is causing your stress and eliminate it quickly...if possible.
In most other cases of depression
or anxiety, it is recommended to find a very good counselor to talk to about your feelings. Although it seems like a
"taboo" thing to seek counseling...sometimes it is the very thing that is needed to help you understand yourself
better. Over my years of pastoral counseling I've witnessed, first-hand, the power of helping people understand
their thoughts and emotions as critical to their recovery. Again, it is a wise person who seeks such help...not a weak
AM I CRAZY OR JUST WEAK?:
As you've seen in this article...depression and
anxiety have various causes...none of which are due to personal weakness. It is very sad that many people refuse to
seek the help they need...and so richly deserve, because of this false label.
If you're suffering today, I
pray you'll forget these very wrong implications and seek out help. There is simply no need to suffer any longer.