A few months ago, one of my professors shared a perspective on depression that completely blew my mind. As I’ve heeded his advice these past few months, my understanding of my own depression has improved drastically. I hope this fresh perspective will give you a new understanding as well!
According to my professor, depression is the feeling of being disengaged: physically, psychologically, spiritually, or relationally.
(It’s funny how closely those four concepts match my obsession with “mind, body, heart & soul”!)
Now, before I continue, please understand that depression IS a mental illness. It is NOT something that the sufferer has complete control of. A depressed person can’t simply identify the problem and “snap out of it”.
I’m sharing this new perspective because I want to help you fight depression; I don’t expect you to completely rid yourself of it because that’s not in our power.
This post considers the different causes of depression and what we can do to fight it. I want to put the power to thrive in the hands of the depressed, and the power of sympathy in the hands of those who are not.
Depression can be caused by physical issues such as a chemical imbalance in the brain. I’ve heard a lot of different data about the validity of “chemical imbalances in the brain”. Here’s the truth:
- We know there’s a problem.
- We aren’t sure what the cause(s) is.
- We know how we can treat the problem.
- We can recognize when someone is susceptible to it.
There’s no way of having all of the right answers at this point, but using what we do know, we can find effective ways of treating people. The mission of psychologists and psychiatrists everywhere is to help people thrive.
For many people, including myself, this requires medication. Another way you can treat depression physically is by eating right and exercising. I use all three methods to give myself a better chance at thriving!
Our imaginations can run wild, and depressed individuals often become the victim of their own thought life. Refusing to address hurtful emotions can also cause psychological distress. When I feel psychologically disconnected, I feel separated from the rest of the world. I become apathetic, and careless about my behavior.
Journaling is a great way to become re-engaged psychologically. It forces you to process your feelings and struggles in a safe environment. Another way you can do this is through counseling.
We can become disengaged spiritually as well. When we starve ourselves of the word of God, we can cause the depression of our souls.
This aspect has a pretty easy fix; get into His Word! Study the Bible by yourself or with others, but become intentional about spending time with God. Dig deep when you have questions about God.
If you feel like you aren’t improving in this area, talk to your pastor or a Christian counselor.
This is the area I struggle in the most. I’m an introvert by nature, and I don’t particularly like being around a lot of people. That being said, when I’m away from other human beings for a long time, I start to languish relationally. I’ll notice that I become afraid to engage in social activities, and I act like a hermit.
Having depression can make this aspect hard, especially when relatives and former friends cast judgement on you for your diagnosis.
Be intentionally about developing relationships. Engage with people who accept your depression and understand you, or at least attempt to understand you. It may be hard to come out of the hermit shell, but you’ll be glad that you did!
So, now what?
If you struggle with depression, consider the ways that your depression is affected physically, psychologically, spiritually and relationally. I have a free worksheet that will help you sort through the things that help your depression and the things that help you overcome it!
If you don’t struggle with depression, download the worksheet anyway! It may be useful to someone you know, or it might be useful to you in the future. I would also suggest filling it out anyway; it’s a great way to reinstate balance in your life!
With Love Always,