Depression is a growing problem in our culture today. Because many of us are isolated in our pain, it can turn inward and cause potentially dangerous problems. However, depression is a treatable disease and does not need to hold you captive. You can defeat depression by reaching out for help.However, depressed people often put off reaching out for help. They feel alone in their pain, believing that no one else understands. This is a lie that Satan tells us when we are depressed because he wants to cut us off from the love and healing that God and others can provide. As you courageously reach out, you will find relief from the heaviness of your depression.
Since depression often hides behind other disorders like anxiety, alcohol abuse, codependency, and related issues, it’s wise to consult with a Christian counselor for a diagnosis. Talk therapy is often very effective for treating depression, and you can benefit greatly from several sessions with a qualified therapist.
Signs and Symptoms of Depression
If you have felt overwhelmed by feelings of sadness, isolation, or hopelessness for at least two weeks, it’s likely that you are suffering from depression. It’s not like feeling blue for a day at a time. Depression is persistent and debilitating, leading you to believe there is no way out. These signs and symptoms mean that you need to consult with a counselor as soon as possible.
- Loss of pleasure or interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Negative impact on work
- No longer attending normal social engagements
- Bouts of tearfulness
- Irritation or uncharacteristically short temper
- Significant increase or decrease in appetite
- Sleeping too much or experiencing insomnia
- Restlessness or pacing
- Slow movements or slowed, quiet speech
- Loss of energy even with normal daily activities
- Lack of concentration
- Memory problems
- Feelings of inappropriate or excessive guilt
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Recurring thoughts about death, dying, and suicide
If you have at least three of these symptoms for more than two weeks in a row, a therapist may diagnose you with Major Depressive Disorder, or clinical depression. Depression can be linked to grief, which may result in a loved one’s death or after a divorce.
If it is linked to substance abuse or a medical condition, it is typically not classified as Major Depressive Disorder. It may also be a symptom of an additional problem, such as Bipolar Disorder or Schizoaffective Disorder. By seeking treatment you can find healing.
Therapy for Depression
Depression can be influenced by genetics since mental disorders tend to run in families. It can also be caused by combinations of social, psychological and biological factors. Certain personalities and temperaments are also more prone to developing depression. A skilled counselor will help you understand the source of your depression so you can start to address it.
Therapists will often start addressing depression with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). By talking with you about your feelings, experiences, and thoughts, we can help you sort out your problems. Depression is often simply anger turned inward. We can help you process that anger and be free from it, which can eliminate depressed feelings.
Some people experience depression due to an imbalance in brain chemistry. There is no shame in taking anti-depressant medications to regulate brain chemistry. The drugs prescribed for depression help your brain process serotonin – a “feel good” hormone – in a more efficient and effective manner.
These drugs can take up to twelve weeks for you to feel their effects, so it’s important to follow your dosages carefully if they are prescribed to you. By combining talk therapy with medication, many people find relief from depression.
It’s essential to keep open lines of communication with your doctor and counselor about your medication use. If you suddenly stop taking it, your symptoms may quickly worsen and cause dangerous side effects. By working closely with your doctor and counselor, you will receive the help for depression that you deserve.
Dealing with Depression
Since some people are more bent toward depression, it’s useful to develop habits that help ward it off. After helping thousands of people work through depression, we’ve discovered the best tips to keep depression at bay. Here are a few things not to do when you have depression:
Don’t tell yourself to cheer up. When you are depressed, you can’t simply turn the negative feelings off. You must work through them with help from your counselor. It’s simply not possible to “fake it until you make it” when you have depression.
Don’t stuff your feelings.
Depression is usually caused by suppressed feelings. If you keep hiding your negative feelings inside, your depression could worsen. By releasing them in a controlled manner with your counselor’s help, you can heal from depression.
Don’t shut people out.
You may be tempted to isolate yourself during the depression, but that only exacerbates feelings of loneliness. Find at least one trusted friend who is willing to pray for you every day and listen to you without judgment. By keeping in touch with at least one other caring person, you will be able to see rays of sunlight even on the darkest days.
Don’t minimize your problem.
Many of our clients have not realized how much depression was affecting their lives until they recovered. Depression affects almost every aspect of your life and should not be minimized. It will affect your relationships, work, church, and other obligations. With greater awareness through counseling, you can handle your depression in a healthier way.
Don’t cut treatment short.
After several weeks of treatment, you may start to feel a bit better and tell yourself you don’t need it anymore. However, since depression is often related to deep heart issues, it takes time to address all the aspects and heal. If you shortcut your treatment it could take longer to heal or your symptoms may worsen. Plan on at least six months of treatment to experience total recovery.
Don’t get stuck in self-criticism.
Negative thoughts are a hallmark of depression. However, by focusing your thoughts on God and his Word, you can find the hope you need. Meditate on scriptures that bring you comfort or peace. Use them to inspire your prayers. Be honest with God about your negative feelings rather than turning them in on yourself. When you are tempted to criticize yourself, talk to God instead.
You can overcome depression by sticking with a treatment plan. If you stick to regular routines of healthy living, such as eating right, exercising, and getting the proper amount of rest, you can minimize your other symptoms. By staying connected to at least one other friend, you won’t feel so alone. Getting involved in at least one activity like sports or church groups can alleviate your low feelings.
It’s important to treat yourself well to overcome depression. Lower your expectations of yourself. Be gentle and kind when talking with yourself. Don’t take on too big of a project but break it into smaller tasks. Recognize your most difficult times of the day, such as the morning or late at night, and minimize stressors during those times.
Learn what your triggers are. Do you feel worse when you deal with a certain person? Has it been a while since you spent time outside your home? Are you sleeping in every morning and getting to school or work late? Have you skipped an appointment with your therapist? By answering these questions, you can learn what to do to remediate your depression.
By staying in the present, you can recognize negative thought patterns and handle them better. Remind yourself that your emotions and negative thoughts don’t have to control your behaviors.
Instead of withdrawing when you are triggered, do something that gives you a lift or provides a sense of accomplishment. This could be as simple as taking a walk or putting clean dishes away. These practical steps will distract you from the downward thoughts and keep you focused on recovery.
Christian Depression Counseling
At Seattle Christian Counseling, we use different counseling techniques to help you heal. We may address your negative thoughts with cognitive-behavior therapy or use interpersonal therapy to improve your relationship skills.
Behavioral activation therapy can help you change your behavior to lift your mood. We may use other therapies to help you stay in the present, develop problem-solving skills, and address unconscious thoughts that drive depression.
To fully recover from depression, it’s crucial that you seek help from a qualified counselor. No matter what type of therapy you use, we will proactively help you find solutions to deal with your depression. Give us a call today to learn which type of therapy will work best for you.
“On the Edge”, Courtesy of Alan Tang, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Barely Making It”, Courtesy of Anh Nguyen, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Anxious”, Courtesy of Priscilla Du Preez, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Happy”, Courtesy of Priscilla Du Preez, Unsplash.com, CC0 License