by Kim Johnson
Depression is defined as a condition of feeling sad or melancholy. More broadly it is characterized by an inability to concentrate, causing insomnia as well as feelings of dejection and guilt. For anyone who has ever experienced depression, this definition seems minor as depression can become so severe that work and/or daily life are almost impossible. Most people who suffer from depression end up feeling completely alone. Yet, over 20 million Americans are living with it right now. Even though there are many treatments or expert help available to reduce these symptoms and more, many do not recognize their feelings as depression. It is always good to consider your feelings and make sure you are not spiraling into a situation that can be dangerous to your health. Some of the emotional and psychological effects of depression include:
- Feeling sad, numb or hopeless. These feelings can be with you most of the day, every day.
- Losing interest in things you used to enjoy. Maybe you no longer bother with hobbies that you used to love or you’ve stopped being around your closest friends.
- Irritability or anxiety. Are you short-tempered? Do you find it hard to relax?
- Trouble making decisions. Making a simple choice can suddenly seem overwhelming. You may even find it hard to think clearly or concentrate.
- Feeling guilty or worthless. These feelings are often exaggerated or inappropriate to the situation. You might feel guilty for things that aren’t your fault or that you have no control over. Or you may feel intense guilt for minor mistakes.
- Thoughts of death and suicide. This can vary from just wishing to be dead or feeling you wouldn’t be missed, to someone actually making specific plans to hurt themselves.
Not only does depression cause emotional symptoms, but it can also cause physical symptoms. These may seem innocent enough yet could be a sign of a deeper issue.
- Headaches. A common physical ailment yet also common in people with depression. If you already had migraine headaches, they may become worse if you’re depressed.
- Back pain . Depression may cause back pain to become worse.
- Muscle aches and joint pain. Any kind of chronic pain can become worse with depression.
- Chest pain. It is obvious that any chest pain should be checked immediately as it could be a sign of serious heart problems. However, chest pain is also associated with depression.
- Digestive problems. Depression can cause you to feel queasy or nauseous, cause diarrhea or constipation.
- Exhaustion and fatigue. Even if you get enough hours of sleep, you may still feel tired and getting out of the bed in the morning may seem hard or even impossible. It can also cause insomnia so you can’t fall asleep or cause you to wake too early.
- Change in appetite. Some people with depression lose their appetite and lose weight while others find they eat more and gain weight.
Many times, we don’t seek help for symptoms because we don’t associate them with depression. If you are praying, trying in good ways to deal with your divorce situation and you continue to experience any of these symptoms to the extreme, it may be time to seek advice from your healthcare provider or a professional. Taking care of yourself is good stewardship:
- “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” (I Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV)
- “After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church.” (Ephesians 5:29 NIV)
Suggestions for Dealing with Depression:
- Do not set difficult goals for yourself.
- Break large tasks into small ones, set some priorities, and do what you can as you can.
- Do not expect too much from yourself too soon.
- Try to be with other people; it is usually better than being alone.
- Force yourself to participate in activities that may make you feel better.
- Try engaging in mild exercise, going to a movie, a ball-game. Don’t turn down social activity invitations from your friends.
- Don’t overdo it or get upset if your mood is not greatly improved right away. Feeling better may take some time.
- Remember, do not accept your negative thinking. Philippians 4:4-8
- Get help from a professional if you find you are not recovering but sliding deeper into depression and have thoughts of suicide.
- Medication may be helpful, but not if it is used to mask the real issue that is causing the depression.
Scripture for Encouragement:
I Samuel 22:17 He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.
Psalm 24:18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 21:1 May the LORD answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
Psalm 55:22 Psalm 55:22 Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.
I Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.