How to Get Up
The booklet you hold in your hands is
one in a series designed to help you with
practical “hands-on” information in your
personal search for a better life and to
help those you care most about.
No matter who you are or where in life
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Copyright © 2011
PROJECT: Steps to Christ, Inc.
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Fort Covington, NY 12937
Printed in the USA
Scripture taken from the New King James Version.
Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson,Inc. Used by permission.
All rights reserved.
y Victor Parachin
“I am now the most miserable man living.
If what I feel were equally distributed to
the whole human family, there would
not be one cheerful face on the earth.
Whether I shall ever be better, I cannot
tell; I awfully forebode I shall not.”
Most people are surprised to know that
the man who spoke those words was
Abraham Lincoln, considered to be
one of the greatest leaders in American history.
In spite of his achievements, Lincoln suffered
from severe bouts of depression. Always somewhat
moody, his spirits seemed to spiral downward
when his good friend, Ann Rutledge, died
in 1835. A few years later he began what would
become a stormy relationship with Mary Todd.
Although they eventually married, in January of
1841, Lincoln broke off their engagement and fell
deeper into depression. His close friends became
so alarmed at Lincoln’s mental and emotional state
that they removed from his house all knives and
other dangerous instruments. The words cited
above were written by Lincoln in a letter to Mary
Todd. They reveal the severity of his depression.
Like Lincoln, many people suffer from bouts
of depression. It is estimated that depression
affects more than 19 million Americans each
year. Roughly 15 percent of Americans will experience
depression at least once in their lives.
Depression is an “equal opportunity” condition,
cutting across social, racial, religious, and economic
classes. Women are nearly twice as likely
as men to have a depressive illness during adulthood.
Experts say the reasons women have more
depression than men include: hormones, pregnancy,
single parenting, and the stress of work
and family. The bad news is that, left untreated,
depression can limit lives, ruin lives and even
end lives. However, the good news is there are
many effective ways to manage and even overcome
Here are some gentle ways to ease
depression and climb toward the light.
Begin by Understanding
You Are Not Alone
Don’t succumb to the temptation of believing
you are alone or unique or have somehow
been singled out by life’s forces to suffer with depression.
As has been cited, depression impacts
millions of people from all walks of life. It can be
found in people around the world and across the
ages. In 400 b.c., Hippocrates, the Greek physician,
considered the founder of western medicine,
diagnosed depression, calling it melancholia
(from Greek words meaning “black bile”).
The Bible reports several individuals who
suffered with depression. Some examples include:
• Moses, who, unhappy with the state of his
life, shouted to God: “If You treat me like
this, please kill me here and now—if I have
found favor in Your sight—and do not let me
see my wretchedness!” (Numbers 11:15).
• Elijah, who became extremely discouraged
with his life and work. In 1 Kings 19:4 we
read these words: “(Elijah) went a day’s
journey into the wilderness, and came
and sat down under a broom tree. And he
prayed that he might die, and said, ‘It is
enough! Now, Lord, take my life.’”
• Job, who suffered great losses, which resulted
in depression, prompting him to
declare: “My soul loathes my life” (Job 10:1).
• Jeremiah, who painfully felt the rejection
of his ministry, complained: “Woe is
me, my mother, that you have borne me”
Other biblical examples can be found in the
Psalms where the writers express feelings of depression—Psalm
31:10: “For my life is spent with
grief.” Psalm 42:6: “O my God, my soul is cast
down within me.” Psalm 69:3, 4: “I am weary with
my crying; my throat is dry; my eyes fail while I
wait for my God. Those who hate me without a
cause are more than the hairs of my head.” Some
even believe Jesus experienced depression when
He admitted to His disciples: “My soul is exceedingly
sorrowful, even to death” (Matthew 26:38).
Let these biblical individuals serve as a reminder
that you are not alone or unique in experiencing
depression. Furthermore, remind yourself
that in spite of their depression, they lived
productive lives and so can you.
Know What You Are Dealing With
Do a self-examination, asking yourself if
your depression is the result of:
• Environmental Factors: Have you experienced
a significant loss, a difficult relationship,
financial problems? Any of these
can produce stress, resulting in depressive
• Psychological Factors: Are you a person
prone to pessimistic thinking, low selfesteem
or excessive worrying? These can
lead to depression.
• Genetic Factors: Is there a family history of
depression? If so, many authorities believe
that some people can inherit a tendency toward
depression when it runs in a family.
• Biochemical Factors: Is it possible that
you may have a chemical or hormonal
• Seasonal Factors: Hippocrates identified a
type of depression related to the changing
seasons. This is now referred to as Seasonal
Affective Disorder or SAD. Does your depression
come with the onset of winter and
As you reflect on these factors, also consult
with your physician who can help clarify issues,
identify possible sources of depression, and then
treat you accordingly. Consider the example of a
woman who experienced three miscarriages and
then was told she would never be able to carry a
child. That diagnoses threw her into a severe depression
as she and her husband eagerly wanted
to have a family. Her doctor provided her with
medication to relieve some of the depressive
symptoms but also urged her to see a therapist.
The counseling empowered her to understand
that the failure to bear children was not indicative
of her failure as a woman. Her therapist helped
the woman explore other options. Today the couple
are proud parents of two adopted children.
Some studies demonstrate that exercise is
as effective as an antidepressant. Dramatic
proof of this comes from recent research at Duke
University. Their study involved 156 sedentary
people, aged 50-70, all of whom were diagnosed
as clinically depressed. Researchers divided the
subjects into three groups: exercise only, medication
only, and exercise plus medication. The exercisers
ran moderately three times a week for 30
minutes. After 16 weeks, all three groups showed
identical mood improvement, implying that exercise
was just as effective as medication in easing
depression. Additionally, when researchers
measured cognitive function, they found that
exercisers showed greater improvement in skills
such as concentration, planning and organization
than medication only patients. “This study
tells us that regular exercise might be a treatment
for older adults with major depression,”
notes psychologist James Blumenthal, Ph.D., the
study’s lead researcher. But, it also shows that
exercise might offset some of the mental decline
often associated with the aging process.
Allow that double benefit to motivate you to
take on an exercise program such as walking, jogging,
biking, skating, swimming, etc. Find some
physical activity you enjoy and do it faithfully at
least thirty minutes a day, three to five times a
week. Begin the activity slowly and gradually add
time and/or distance. You may also find it helpful
to ask a friend or neighbor to exercise with you.
Step Into the Light
Many people suffer from Seasonal
Affective Disorder (SAD). Those affected
by SAD find themselves becoming increasingly
depressed as winter comes, bringing with it less
daylight. Scientists speculate the reason for this
involves a hormonal change when less light is
received by the retina of the eye. Dr. Norman
E. Rosenthal, director of light therapy studies at
the National Institute of Mental Health and one
of the first to identify SAD as a syndrome, offers
these suggestions for introducing more light
during the winter:
• Redecorating—painting walls white and
recarpeting with light-colored floor coverings,
avoiding dark paneling.
• Adding Light Fixtures—especially more intense
lighting, such as halogen lamps, to the
• Landscaping—cutting back trees, hedges
and shrubs from the windows to admit
more natural light.
• Relocating—moving into a home that has
big windows and a south or east exposure.
Listen to Music
“Listening to music has a powerful effect
on people’s moods,” says Neal Barnard,
M.D., president of the Physician Committee
for Responsible Medicine in Washington, D.C.
His observation is backed up by one study in
which people who listened to music reduced
their stress-hormone levels by 41 percent. Interestingly,
the use of music to alter depressive
moods is also cited in the Bible. There, the first
king of Israel, Saul, suffered from severe depressive
mood swings, often sinking into deep black
moods, which also frightened those around him
that they said an “distressing [evil] spirit” was
tormenting him (1 Samuel 16:14). Saul’s aides,
which presumably include some with medical
knowledge, made this suggestion: “Let our master
now command your servants, who are before
you, to seek out a man who is a skillful player
on the harp; and it shall be that he will play it
… and you shall be well” (verse 16). The king’s
servants found a young boy named David who
was a skilled harpist. David entered Saul’s service
as the royal musician. The account reports:
“Whenever the [evil] spirit… was upon Saul,
that David would take a harp and play it with his
hand. Then Saul would become refreshed and
well, and the distressing spirit would depart from
him” (verse 23).
Celebrate Rather than Isolate
When we are depressed and hurting emotionally,
the natural tendency is to withdraw,
retreat and isolate ourselves. However, a
wiser course of action is to seek out increasing social
opportunities and the solaces which friends
can bring. Even though this is difficult when feeling
depressed, choose to celebrate life rather than
isolate yourself. Fight the urge to be alone. Selfimposed
isolation only accentuates depression.
Recently, a man wrote advice columnist
Dear Abby saying he had retired to a new community
and experienced depression, which has
now caused him to regret the move. Other readers
of the column responded to the man’s plight
with one woman saying she and her husband
recently relocated to Florida. “We don’t miss
the snow and ice we left behind one bit. Yes, it’s
hard to pick up and move to a new area where
you know no one. The key is to get out there
and meet as many new people as you can.” The
writer explained that within three months of
moving, she volunteered to be on the Welcoming
Committee, which brought her in contact with
many new members of the community. She also
joined a volunteer group which provides used
children’s clothing, blankets and sweaters for
Native Americans on reservations. In addition,
she is secretary for her homeowners association.
Her husband has also plunged into activities.
“Busy? You bet,” she acknowledges. “We’re busier
now than we were before we retired. We love it.
I’ve met many interesting and dedicated people,
and we have many new friends with whom to socialize,
travel and spend time together.”
Volunteer to Help Others
When researchers recently analyzed 37
studies on volunteering, they found that
people who offered their time had a better sense
of well-being, were happier with their lives, and
were less likely to feel sad and anxious. “Helping
others gives people an emotional bond, a chance
to communicate, and a feeling of connection,”
explains R. Murali Krishna, M.D., clinical professor
of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the
University of Oklahoma. Reaching out to help
someone else also is effective in taking the focus
off your own problems, thereby providing some
respite from the feelings of depression.
Develop Spiritual Resources
“Many people find a great sense of satisfaction
with life when they strengthen their
spiritual orientation,” note Jesse H. Wright, M.D.
and Monica Ramirez Basco, PH.D., in their book
Getting Your Life Back: The Complete Guide to
Recovery From Depression. “For some, this happens
through meditation and reading. For others,
it comes from attending a church or synagogue.”
Take steps to strengthen your spiritual
life by studying scriptures, reading inspirational
books, and consulting with a spiritual leader who
will listen to you, pray with you, and offer wisdom
to guide you.
Tap Into the Power of Prayer
Medical doctor Alexis Carrel (1873-1944)
noted: “As a physician, I have seen men,
after all other therapy had failed, lifted out of
disease and melancholy by the serene effort of
prayer.” When dealing with depression, don’t
hesitate to tap into the power of prayer. Seek out
God’s help, guidance and comfort. Remember
this promise of scripture: “The Lord is good to
those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks
Him” (Lamentations 3:25). Prayer lifted the depression
experienced by Janice Dick of St. Peters,
Missouri. Normally a happy, loving and caring
individual, she fell into a state of depression. “I
had… enjoyed life so much. Now, here I was
crying all the time, not wanting to get up in the
mornings, not wanting to shower, not wanting to
wash my hair, not wanting to do any of the daily
activities I usually would do.” Ms. Dick explained
she was hospitalized several times, saw various
doctors, took numerous medications, and even
had shock treatments. Nothing brought her relief.
“This is where prayer, faith and healing
came in,” she says. “So many family members
and friends prayed for me, and I read all kinds
of Christian books trying to find help. I prayed
that God would deliver me from this. My favorite
Bible verse was, ‘I can do all things through
Christ who strengthens me’ (Philippians 4:13).
He did. I know without a doubt that if I had not
turned to my dear Lord and Savior, and without
the prayers of family and friends, I would not
have made it. I have been well for about 14 years
now and what a blessing. I truly give all the glory
to God for where I am today.”
* * *
By taking these types of steps, you will
climb out of depression and step into the light.
Be patient with yourself as you work to domesticate
depression. Remain hopeful, trustful
and optimistic, because you can win the battle
SYMPTOMS OF CLINICAL DEPRESSION
If you find that your depression has become continuous
and has started to interfere with your everyday activities,
you may suffer from clinical depression. This is more
serious than a passing depressed mood. According to the
American Psychiatric Associations Diagnostic and Statistical
Manual for Mental Disorders, if you have at least five of the
following symptoms, lasting two weeks or more, you may
be clinically depressed and should seek out professional
• An irritable mood or feelings of sadness and grief
nearly every day;
• A loss of interest or pleasure in things you once
• A change of appetite—significant weight gain or loss;
• Changes in sleeping patterns—insomnia or excessive
• Physical restlessness or slowed body movements;
• Fatigue or loss of energy;
• Feelings of worthlessness or guilt;
• Problems in concentrating, thinking, remembering,
or making decisions;
• Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide, or a suicide
plan or attempt.
Other titles available in
the Peacefinder book series:
You Can Stop Smoking
Ten Ways to Improve Your Marriage
A Dozen Ways to Defeat Loneliness
Hope in Times of Trouble
Survival Tips for Single Parenting
Living with Loss
The Healing of Sorrow
Life After Death
Gentle Ways to Ease Depression
To order additional titles, visit our online
bookstore at www.peacefinders.org
or call 1-800-728-6872.
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