“Whenever I’m depressed I go shopping.”
“If you’re depressed you’re not trusting God.”
“I get so depressed on bill paying day.”
How often do you hear similar comments or even say them? With the commonly accepted use of the word “depressed” it’s no wonder we don’t have an accurate understanding of what depression really is. The misuse of the word has contributed to misunderstanding of—and therefore a widespread inappropriate reaction to—depression.
Many people who are clinically depressed don’t recognize it as such, because their symptoms don’t match the overused notion of depression (which often amounts to feeling down in the dumps, usually in response to a particular source of stress or disappointment). Failure to recognize depression for what it truly is will delay or even prevent the depressed person from getting the help she needs.
Even among those who do recognize that they are clinically depressed, finding empathy among friends and family can be difficult. Too many people hold the misconception that depression is simply an overreaction to ordinary troubles in life, or that the depressed person is just looking for an excuse to be lazy or antisocial.
Others believe they have been depressed when what they actually experienced may have been sadness, exhaustion, the “baby blues” or another source of stress that caused negative feelings. While these are all difficult and unpleasant, they are not depression. Believing you’ve been depressed when you haven’t diminishes your ability to empathize with and offer help to someone who really is.
On the other end of the spectrum people may use the word “depression” as a mask or an excuse. Instead of facing the uncomfortable and unappealing consequences of living a foolish life, they find it easy to blame their life-issues on “depression.” It seems like the easy route at first, but their true problem is not being addressed.
Depression is not the same as a bad mood or feeling sad or blue. Depression is not something a person can choose to “snap out of”, nor is it merely an emotional illness. Depression is caused by a disturbance of the intricate and delicately balanced chemical system in your brain. It is a physical illness, every bit as much as cancer and diabetes are physical illnesses.
How do I know depression is a physical illness? First, there is overwhelming scientific evidence to that effect. Second, I’ve experienced it. In each of my four significant episodes with depression, there was a specific, definable moment that I felt the “black curtain” fall over my life. The circumstances of my life did not change so drastically in mere moments as to throw me into a deep depression. What changed so drastically and suddenly was the balance of chemicals and hormones in my brain as my body attempted to respond to my life circumstances.
Check back next week for more about the signs of depression and how to take action to overcome it.
P.S. We’d love to know your thoughts, so please be sure to comment below. Each of our commenters will be entered in a drawing for our current FREE book giveaway, Mothers & Daughters: Mending a Strained Relationship by author Teena Stewart.
Beth Cranford believes every Christian has been equipped and empowered to do specific and effective work in the kingdom of God. It is her heart’s desire to see women live in the freedom that is theirs through Christ by helping them break free from depression and other strongholds. She encourages women to experience God’s power in their lives by understanding their identity and position in Christ and their unique design.
Beth has a passion for helping Christian parents design and implement an education that honors and nurtures their children’s individual design, equipping them for a life of freedom and power.
Beth has been married to her best friend for 21 years. Together they raise and educate their two children in middle TN. You can find her at http://www.bethcranford.com