Friday, June 04, 2010

Question - Depression?

I did a few question posts earlier - here and here, but haven't done any for a while ... here's a question I have today.

I heard some news yesterday that made me sad. Depression just wrecked havoc on an individual, a family and a community. My heart breaks for everyone involved. 

I've dealt with seasons of depression twice in my life, so I've researched it just enough to be totally confused at the confused state it can create in a mind. 

There's a lot of different information as to the causes/reasons for it. And there's many different 'solutions' proposed. The one most repeated is the willingness to admit you are depressed and then being willing to get the help you need ... whether that is meds, counseling, lifestyle changes, getting exercise, etc. 

So the first step is admitting it, which was true for me both times, but the irony is that the very nature of depression is such that it makes it difficult to admit it. 

So my question is ... since depression can create a confused, unhealthy state in one's mind - what can we do to prevent it from becoming too severe for ourselves and/or others?

Breast cancer creates an unhealthy state in our bodies, so after a certain age women are encouraged to do examines/screenings. Maybe someone should invent a depression examine or screening that we all take after certain times. Maybe after giving birth, after a busy season in our life, after a traumatic event or a loss, etc. 

If you were inventing a depression screening - what would it look like? 

1 comment:

kstrandlund said...

wow. that's quite the question, janet. and one i'm not sure i have a succinct answer to, so i won't try, but i will toss in a few of my thoughts.

i think that in addition to the nature of depression itself making it hard to admit, the stigma that admitting it has in society only adds to it. we as the Church have an opportunity to change that stigma. we have an opportunity to make it okay to admit weakness. for far too long we've tried to convince people that if you just take the Jesus pill you will be "happy" and it's time we change that.

that being said, in my personal experience depression was comparable to how some describe addiction. many addicts i talk to say that until they surrendered their self will and admitted they couldn't win the battle against their disease on their own, they couldn't break the addiction cycle. but, when they quit trying so hard, admitted weakness, and relied on something greater than themselves (obviously I hope it's God) they had success. for me personally, when i got to the point that i surrendered my will and quit trying to hard to be "happy" things changed. the depression no longer seemed unconquerable. i think the admitting and surrendering will become easier when we get real about depression in the Church. there were people in the Bible who struggled with depression but God still used them to do amazing things and they still found joy without happiness. and i believe there is a difference between the two. perhaps it's that society has convinced us that admitting depression has to be hard?

i think the way to "screen" for depression is through relationship and conversation. i don't believe it's something you can test for, although trust me, i know people have tried. i was given a "are you depressed" test when i sought out counseling. if we took more time to actually listen to people in conversation i think we'd learn a lot more than we realize. sure, you can hide, but if depression is truly causing that much havoc in your life, there will come a point that you can't really hide it.

all of that being said, i also think there is a difference between depression which results from a traumatic incident or overly stressful season of life and that which is more chronic.