Gentle Ways To Overcome Depression

sctousa

Gentle Ways

to Ease

How to Get Up

When You’re

Down


Dear friend,

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

you are looking for answers—whether it

be marriage, health, parenting, the loss

of a loved one, overcoming an addiction,

or working through stress or financial

problems—there is help available and

there is hope.

We trust this booklet and others in the

Peacefinders series will be a blessing

to you and your family as you journey

through each passage of life.

—The Publishers


Copyright © 2011

PROJECT: Steps to Christ, Inc.

302 Foster Road

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


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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

this syndrome.


Here are some gentle ways to ease

depression and climb toward the light.

1

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

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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”

(Jeremiah 15:10).

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.


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2

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

feelings.

• 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

imbalance?

• 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

shorter days?


6

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.

3

Get Physical

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.

4

Step Into the Light

Many people suffer from Seasonal

Affective Disorder (SAD). Those affected

by SAD find themselves becoming increasingly

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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

home.

• 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.

5

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).

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6

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


11

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.”

7

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.

8

Develop Spiritual Resources

“Many people find a great sense of satisfaction

with life when they strengthen their


12

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.

9

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


13

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

over depression.


14

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

help immediately:

• An irritable mood or feelings of sadness and grief

nearly every day;

• A loss of interest or pleasure in things you once

enjoyed;

• A change of appetite—significant weight gain or loss;

• Changes in sleeping patterns—insomnia or excessive

sleeping;

• 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

Addiction Free

Ten Ways to Improve Your Marriage

A Dozen Ways to Defeat Loneliness

Hope in Times of Trouble

Money Management

Stress Management

Survival Tips for Single Parenting

Successful Parenting

Living with Loss

The Healing of Sorrow

Life After Death

Medical Miracle

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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