‘Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me, put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.’ Philippians 4:8-9
In recent years, it has been reported that there are 20.9 million Americans in the US that live with various forms of depression including Bipolar Disorder, also known as manic-depression, major depression, and other mood disorders. Depression may be the result of dealing with a difficult situation or circumstance, the loss of a loved one, a chemical imbalance in the brain, a negative adverse effect to some medications, a medical condition such as thyroid disease or multiple sclerosis (MS), or even by a genetic predisposition.
The continuum of depression is broad, ranging from mild depression to a full blown mood disorder, also known as Bipolar Disorder. Clinical depression is a chemical imbalance that occurs when a person has experienced untreated depression for three weeks or more, lending to changes in the brain’s neurotransmitters or serotonin levels. Since the mind and body are so closely connected, untreated depression may at first present as sadness, teariness, sluggishness, fatigue, malaise, deep muscle pain, or as a physical problem such as gastric upset or migraines.
People with depression sometimes experience difficulty with relationships, memory, focus, decision making, and slowed cognition, as well as, accompanying anxiety. Manifestations of depression may be subtle and hardly recognizable, or easily recognizable, as when someone talks about thoughts of suicide.
With depression so prevalent in American life of epidemic proportions, perhaps it is time to really look at our lives and make some positive, life-giving changes that will improve quality of life for those living with depression and for loved ones. Here are some things one can do to prevent and/or ease the impact of depression.
Embrace the Power of Positive Thinking
Today’s Scripture reminds us that we are in control of what we think about. Even when experiencing depression, each of us has the power to consciously ‘change the channel’ on his or her thinking, redirecting their thoughts, if you will. By so doing his/her part to help promote inner peace and well-being, despite feelings of depression.
This Bible passage, Philippians 4:8 advises us to focus on:
‘Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things…Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.’
According to this Scripture, the outcome of shifting one’s focus to what is noble, right and true replaces what is worrisome or anxiety-provoking with positive thinking, brings great inner peace. Personally, when I worry and need to ‘switch gears,’ I like to envision being at the beach. I find it extremely relaxing and it has even helped lower my elevated blood pressure!
Exercise and Diet
Be sure and eat a well-balanced, nourishing diet, drink plenty of water, and exercise daily. Exercise is important to get the most out of the chemical endorphins found in your body that provide depression and pain relief.
Reach Out to Others
We were born to serve God through helping others. As Christians, we are taught to prioritize our lives.God first, family is second, work and Church are third, and everything else comes after that.
Reaching out to those in most need among us is a wonderful way to move in a positive direction, stemming the ebb and flow of depression, and serving God. Through random, and not-so random, acts of kindness towards friends, family, and even strangers in ministry, we are able to extend warmth and care to others, thereby also benefiting oneself by expanding our sphere. Reaching out to others is a win-win proposition. Becoming involved at Church in various ministries is just one way to enhance one’s mood through helping others, and volunteering in one’s school or community is another way.
Seek Medical Care
Sometimes, despite ones personal best efforts, the blues persist. In the event that you or a loved one experiences sadness or depression for three weeks or more, it is important to seek medical help as soon as possible from your primary care doctor or a psychiatrist. Additionally, if you have any thoughts of suicide, it is important that you go to the closest emergency room and tell them how you are feeling. In this instance, above all, safety always comes first.
Most of all, as you seek medical help for depression, try to stay calm and try to be kind and gentle with yourself. Get lots of rest. Antidepressant medications may be ordered by the physician, and you will feel relief from depression soon. Before you know it, you will be feeling your old self again, enjoying your life and loved ones!