HEALING OUR BROKENNESS

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Proven Ways to Detect & Prevent Depression

Preventing Depression Through Early Detection

Here we will learn that preventing depression is essential to healthy living.  Depression is not new. It is an age-old problem that is written about extensively in Scripture. Understanding we are not alone in our suffering helps in preventing depression. In the Bible, we find several accounts of mighty men of God who surrendered to the overwhelming pull of depression. Elijah, Jeremiah, and David are three examples that come to mind. Many of David’s psalms are filled with anguish. Elijah, after a great victory over the prophets of Baal, begged God to take his life. And Jeremiah is recognized as the weeping Prophet. 

The symptoms of depression vary from mild to debilitating. The causes are as complex as one’s life experiences. Effectively understanding depression involves studying the sufferer’s history, generationally, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. 

The Symptoms of Depression Vary in Nature

The symptoms of depression are numerous. They may be minimal, easily hidden, and misdiagnosed, or they may be so severe that the sufferer is incapable of carrying on a normal life. In many cases, the symptoms seem to progress in frequency, intensity, and duration. However, a person may suffer for months or years with mild signs of unhappiness and then suddenly drop into severe full-blown mental distress. Usually, the sudden drop in mental health is brought on by a major crisis, such as the death of a family member. Self-awareness and recognizing the signs and symptoms may go a long way in preventing depression.

Symptoms of mild depression are feelings of sadness, crying, irritability, anxiety, fears, excessive sleeping, insomnia, food cravings, loss of appetite, and fatigue, which may be overlooked as insignificant symptoms, but they are common indications that something is not right. The sufferer often tries to suppress these symptoms of mild depression with the busyness of excessive sports, reading fiction, movies, hobbies, work, or entertainment.

Signs of more serious mental distress are seclusion, panic attacks, uncontrollable emotions, phobias, an overwhelming urge to run away, and suicidal thoughts. A combination of such symptoms can result in severe immobilizing disability.

The Causes of Depression are Complicated

Man Depressed Wondering What About TommorrowThe sources are as complex as the illness itself. There are usually several factors involved in developing depression–  Personality type, inherited through our genes, learned responses to stress, childhood trauma, grief, constant fear, habitual sin, confusion about God’s character, bitterness, hopelessness, exhaustion, and burn-out, are some concerns we will talk about.

Genetics & Training Contribute to Depression

Depression can run in your genes and familyIndividuals can be born with weakness toward depression as part of who they are. It can be inherited from our parents through our genes and be part of our personality type. Despair can also be a learned way of responding to stress. If you were raised in an environment where one of your parents reacted to disappointments and stresses by means of depression, it is most likely that either you or one of your siblings will develop this way of responding to anxiety.

Our outlook on life whether we are hopeful and optimistic or negative and pessimistic affects how we respond to difficult situations. If you are a deep-thinking, deep-feeling, sensitive, artistic perfectionist, you will most likely struggle with depression. Easy-going, confident individuals tend to ride the waves of life’s challenges more peacefully. Preventing depression may involve learning to take life less seriously.

Buried Childhood Trauma

Buried Childhood Trauma Causing DepressionIf you have suppressed painful memories and damaged emotions from childhood abuse or trauma, you may respond to adult situations through the emotions of the wounded child, you once were. Your feelings and reactions may be excessive to what the situation calls for. You may find relatively mild situations overwhelming, resulting in hopelessness, despair, and depression.

When you have not dealt with, or taken the time to heal past hurts, you may be prone to triggers and feeling flashbacks. Present experiences tap into a deep pool of previous emotions, resulting in exaggerated emotional outbursts. This occurs when the pain of past trauma travels forward and connects with present situations. When more emotion is felt than what the situation calls for, you are experiencing a feeling flashback.

False guilt and shame often accompany the aftereffects of childhood trauma. Adult survivors of childhood abuse and neglect often carry around false responsibility for what happened to them. They feel guilty for not preventing it. False guilt and shame lead to feelings of rejection, insecurity, and worthlessness.

False Guilt & Past Emotions

Past emotional trauma can open a door to allow Satan to keep an individual bound emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually. In Luke 13:16 Jesus declared–

“Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day, from what bound her?”

Preventing depression may mean facing the darkness, revisiting traumatic childhood memories, and taking ownership of the damage done. In other words, we need to look at our roots. If our roots are unhealthy, we will not be able to grow in our faith. Looking at our roots or background and nurturing the unhealthy areas, can enable us to heal and grow emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

Luke 13:7-8 expresses the importance of taking care of our roots.

“So, he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it.

 John 15:1-2, 5, relates to our need for pruning so that we can bear fruit. Restoring the broken and dead areas of our souls aids us in avoiding depression and empowers us to succeed in all areas of our lives.

Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. I am the vine; you are the branches”.

Depression is Part of the Grieving Process

Loss is a major source of depression; in fact, depression is recognized as one of the phases of grief. Individuals grieve for a variety of reasons. It may be the loss of a loved one through death, a failed marriage, or a broken relationship. Financial reversal, loss of employment, change in-home, or lifestyle are reasons for grief. Missed opportunities and broken dreams cause sorrow. It may be the loss of childhood innocence or separation from a parent or child. The causes of grief are endless in this broken world.

How to Prevent Depression

Preventing depression would involve allowing ourselves permission to grieve our losses as we experience them. Grieving and mourning are gifts we give ourselves. Grieving allows you to feel the emotions of your loss. Mourning is the outward expression of your loss through sharing memories or disappointments with friends. Allowing yourself the time and energy necessary to experience the full consequences of your losses, and grieving them appropriately, permits you to move through the grieving process and release your emotions at your own pace.

If you suppress your feelings and do not allow yourself the privilege of grieving your losses, the blend of such losses may merge into one major loss. You will find yourself exhausted trying to keep all your emotions pushed down. The danger of suppressing your emotions is that if you experience a tragic loss you may lose your ability to keep your emotions under control. Suddenly you are no longer able to hold back the torrent of emotion which may pour out in uncontrollable sobs.

The resulting severe depression may overwhelm the sufferer and may produce a need to grieve each of the past losses individually. Such a situation sets the victim up for a lengthy, painful healing journey. God’s desire is that we heal past hurts so that we can become strong and grounded in our faith in Him.

Secret Sins Steal Our Joy

Another concern that causes depression is private sin. Destroyers of joy may be found in envy, jealousy, and comparing. The desire for what someone else has irritates the soul and promotes unhappiness. Often these sins give way to gossip and complaining which divide relationships.

Few are the individuals who are more miserable than those who love the Lord yet get themselves caught in one of Satan’s traps. They are tormented with guilt, shame, and fear of being caught. Some of the most powerful strongholds are ones that no one else sees, such as abortion, pornography, gambling, obsessions, and emotional affairs. Such sins may be hidden from peers, but their shame drags individuals into bondage. The victim is too humiliated to ask for help so he or she struggles on their own while sinking deeper and deeper into the pit. Suicidal thoughts begin to take over their minds as Satan’s lies convince them that there is no other way out. Preventing depression would mean accepting accountability for your sinful habits.

Bitterness Poisons Our Souls

Suppressed anger or bitterness are other major contributors to depression. The attitude of “you owe me”, eats away at your soul like cancer, burrowing you deeper into despair. You feel helpless in obtaining retribution for your losses. Yet, when you choose not to forgive, you leave the door open for Satan to tempt you and cause all kinds of havoc in your life. All your other relationships will be contaminated by your bitterness You will inevitably hurt those you love most. Ask yourself, “Who am I hurting when I refuse to forgive?”

Ephesians 4:26-27 gives a warning. “In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”

When I choose to forgive, I am opening the door to allow God to change me as an individual. When you set your offender free, you find freedom for yourself. You dump the baggage and feel lighter in your outlook on life. In the process of forgiveness, you grow in your relationship with your Heavenly Father and experience a greater level of mental health. Giving and receiving forgiveness promptly is another means of preventing depression.

A Distorted View of God Affects Our Mental Health

Emotional pain seems to set a great gulf between the sufferer and our Heavenly Father. Never do you feel more abandoned by God than when you are in emotional pain. You cry out, “Why? Why? Why?”  Our perception of our Heavenly Father affects our emotional and mental health. If we have a faulty spiritual belief system, we will short circuit our relationship with our Heavenly Father. On the other hand, if we do not have a healthy understanding of who God is, and who we are as His child, we will not be able to trust the love of our Heavenly Father. We must feel secure in God’s love, or we will not be able to grow deep in our faith,  limping from crisis to crisis, wondering if God truly is good and if He really does care. We ask repeatedly, “where is God when I’m in pain?”

Understanding depression in relation to how we view God gives us another dimension of self-awareness. The nature of the relationship you have with your earthly father greatly impacts your ability to trust your Heavenly Father. Even some mature Christians have difficulty believing their Heavenly Father loves them unconditionally. In their mind, they believe God loves them; but at their emotional level, they feel they must obey God perfectly for God’s wonderful promises and love to apply to them. Shifting your concept of God requires teamwork. You’ll need to commit yourself to do the work of healing which will involve an in-depth study of God’s love for you.

Preventing Depression

Reading the Bible to help Prevent DepressionPreventing depression involves developing an intimate relationship with your Heavenly Father. The best way to build your perception of who God is and how He feels about you as His child is to spend time with Him daily. Meditate on and interact with Scriptures that express God’s heart for His children.

Insert your name in each verse and roll them over in your mind as you go about your day. Pray these scriptures back to your Heavenly Father in your own words. Thank Him for His love for you. This should be a daily practice until these beliefs become part of who you are. Meditating on Scriptures of God’s love will gradually move the content from your mind to your emotional level.

When we find ourselves struggling with exhaustion, fear, anxiety, and a sense of hopelessness, what we need most is some time alone with God. I’m not talking about taking a vacation where you distract yourself from what the real problem is. I am talking about taking your Bible, along with a few essentials and getting away by yourself for a few days, where you can fast and pray. Jesus encouraged His disciples to come away with Him to a quiet place and rest a while. (Mark 6:31)

Preventing Depression is All About

  • Developing an intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father.
  • Learning to pour out our emotions to Him.
  • Regularly scheduled time alone with Him for restoring our soul and renewing our vision.
  • Evaluating the ongoing stresses in every area of our lives.
  • Identifying areas of vulnerability toward temptation and depression.
  • Rejecting Satan’s lies.
  • Reaching out for help.
  • Trusting God to walk with you.
  • “So, if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8: 36).

Grace Gayle

Healing Our Brokenness Ministries

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Proven Ways to Detect & Prevent Depression