blog: Is Overcoming Depression Possible?
Robin Williams made us cry with uncontrollable laughter, but no one is laughing now and the tears of laughter have turned to sorrow as one of America’s greatest funny-men made his final exit.
When emotional and mental pain exceeds our capacity to cope, suicide can seem like the only way out of an unbearable and painful life. It is estimated that each year 10 to 20 million people attempt suicide and about 1 million succeed:
121 million people suffer from depression. Every year, one million people commit suicide. 10 to 20 million attempt suicide. (World Health Organization)
Symptoms Of Depression
Generally speaking, depression is the overwhelming sense of hopelessness. Most likely, at some point in our lives, many of us have battled depression. The symptoms or warning signs of depression can sound like we are just blowing off a little steam. Here are a few signs that indicate you are probably battling depression:
- What’s the use in trying?
- It doesn’t matter what I do.
- There is nothing I can do to change anything.
- You just don’t understand.
- Life sucks. I wish I were dead.
- I’ll kill myself, then they will know how wrong they were.
- The pain is just too great. I would rather die than go on like this.
- Nobody cares.
- No one loves me.
- I could die tomorrow and no one would miss me.
There Are Various Reasons Why People Become Depressed
Nobody Loves Me – Everyone needs to feel they are loved. When we feel unloved it is easy to develop a poor self-image and believe we are unlovable, defective or damaged goods. What’s so wrong with me that no one wants me, loves me or cares about me. If I died tonight I doubt anyone would miss me.
Broken Relationships – Failed marriages, engagements, and dating relationships often result in broken hearts, mental anguish and deep depression.
Alcohol & Drugs – Alcohol and drug abuse or addiction always distorts your body chemistry and alters your mind. There’s a reason they are called “mind-altering substances.” It is said that depressed people attempt to drown their sorrows with drugs and alcohol, but regular use of these substances will cause a life of sadness and depression. About 1/3 of depressed people are substance abusers.
Financial Ruin – The stock market crash of 1929 caused some financially ruined people to leap to their death. Financial stress can beat you down as waves of grief and depression consume your mind.
Continuous Failure – There are seasons of our lives and perhaps even decades where we just can’t do anything right. Nothing works out and everything goes wrong. It is easy to sink into a deep depression as your world becomes impossible to navigate.
Mental Disorders – Chemical imbalances in the brain effect everything from mood swings to full-blown Psychotic behavior (loss of reality). Proper diagnosis is essential.
Traumatic Experiences – Sever emotional trauma can cause a dissociate withdrawal or detachment from life and reality and turn a person into an unstable depressed mess.
Prolonged Terminal Illness – It is difficult to accept that some people choose to end their life when facing a debilitating disease. Their plan is to end their suffering before the protracted suffering ends their life. Feelings of hopelessness and despair often lead to a deep depression where death becomes the desired escape.
Unemployment – Not being able to find suitable employment to earn a living and support yourself or your family can cause one to become overwhelmed with feelings of worthlessness and despair.
Fear Of The Unknown – Living with the fear of tomorrow is an exhausting state of mind. The uncertainty, worry and anxiety of facing tomorrow’s trials and horrors can make suicide seem like sweet relief.
Death Of A Loved One – Losing a spouse, child, sibling, or parent is always a difficult experience. There are 5 known stages of grief: 1) Denial/Shock, 2) Bargaining, 3) Anger, 4) Depression, 5) Acceptance. It helps to reach out to a skilled grief counselor if you get stuck in the depression stage.
You Can Beat Depression
You may be surprised to learn that some of God’s most notable spiritual leaders in the Bible struggled with bouts of depression, hopelessness and despair. The prophet Elijah became so depressed that he asked God to kill him (I Kings 19:4-5). The apostle Paul also became depressed to the point that he didn’t want to live and death looked like the only option.
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. (2 Cor. 1:8-9)
We understand that depression involves feelings of despair or a sense of hopelessness that often results from real life experiences. Life’s challenges and circumstances surround our lives leaving us no way out. We are hopelessly trapped and have no power to escape.
The apostle Paul reached a place in his mental reasoning where he knew that there was absolutely nothing he could do to escape the reality that was confronting him. He “despaired of life itself” and in his heart he could feel the “sentence of death.” But then he discovered something that we really need to grasp:
But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. (2 Cor. 1:9-11)
Two things we must do: not rely on ourselves to overcome depression, but rely on God, setting our hope on God. In other words, place your trust and hope in God and do not look to yourself or the circumstances for the answers—there are none.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Life was never meant to be lived without God. Jesus offers this invitation to all:
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
Suggested reading: 5 Facts That Will Change Your Life
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