At some point, someone in your Forum will be dealing with depression. It is part of the human condition. Here are some thoughts to help if it shows up in your Forum.
1. THE CAUSES OF DEPRESSION:
Most of us at one point or another in our lives will experience an episode of clinical depression. That is a period of time where we go beyond merely prolonged discouragement to a place where our very physical functioning becomes affected negatively by our depressed mood.
Exogenous Depression – “Derived or developed from outside the body; originating externally.”
– This is sometimes called reactive depression, it is episodic or externally generated depression in reaction to circumstances of life, broken health, the break-up of a relationship or a grief response to a bereavement. This may or may not necessitate medication. Involves counseling and often improves with time. May or may not return after the first episode.
Endogenous Depression – “Produced or growing from within. Originating or produced within an organism.” This type usually requires some sort of prescription to fix the brain chemistry that has gotten out of balance. It is a physical, not just mental situation that requires medication and cannot be reversed by simply changing patterns of behavior. (Usually, involves a process to find the right medication)
2. HABITUAL THOUGHT PATTERNS BROUGHT ABOUT BY DEPRESSION:
a) Low Self-esteem – unhappiness brought on by d. can make them indecisive, inefficient (often difficult to even get out of bed in morning) all of which can lead to a feeling of worthlessness or self – condemnation which can fuel low self-esteem which can act as a negative filter on what we experience.
- Innocent actions or comments of those around us become proof that we are worthless or that people look down upon us rather than being seen for what they are:
- i.e. Someone passes without saying “hi”. Instead of realizing they were just lost in thought, the depressed person may interpret it as a slight or put down.
- Someone becomes angry with you. Instead of shaking it off as a person having a bad day, it can be seen as a major breaking of relationship.
b) Guilt cycle – guilt causes depression which in turn creates more guilt.
c) Withdrawal – social contacts are too demanding. We don’t feel ‘up’ to them. May tend to escape into excessive TV watching, novels, addictive behaviour alcohol or drug use to numb the pain of depression.
d) Negative downward spiral of thought patterns. Begins with a negative interpretation of a thought or event which upon reflection gets mulled over and leads to other negative ungracious thoughts which fuel even more.
– the challenge is the need to live in the upward spiral of possibility rather than the downward spiral of negativity.
Without engaging in oversimplification, here are some suggestions towards health for practice within the Corpath community.
3. DEALING WITH DEPRESSION IN FORUM COMMUNITY
One of the key characteristics of a depressed mood or thinking pattern is that it becomes easy to lose perspective. A caring Corpath Forum community which is committed to an atmosphere of safety can help in several ways:
a) Stimulate realistic thinking:
- challenge ‘automatic thinking’ patterns. The tape in your head.
- discuss assumptions – Are we always to be happy?
- discuss values, expectations that have become entrenched & may need to be gently challenged.
b) Discuss ways to change environment:
- encourage action instead of inactivity.
- engagement rather than withdrawal.
- reconciliation rather than alienation.
- raise possible route of professional counselling, medication, and position those choices as wise self-leadership.
c) Bring in the Divine perspective
- Bible has many instances of depression. Part of human experience.
- at times depression is mixed with rejoicing (e.g. Psalms 43).
- cf. Psalms. 88, 102.
d) Simply listen and “be” with the person non-judgmentally:
- A ministry of presence and listening is often of greater help than trying to “fix” someone who is depressed.