As you read this story, guess who is the “Apostle ?” –soon to be prophet- the story is talking about.

On November 9, 1962, “Apostle ?” with a heavy heart, and Brother Stover left from the Salt Lake Airport for Europe. Elders Spencer W. Kimball, Mark E. Petersen, and Richard L. Evans were there with family members to see him off and give him the encouragement he so much needed. No sooner did they arrive in Europe than memories began to hamper  Apostle ?‘s” slight grasp on emotional control. November 14 was his wedding anniversary and Fern’s birthday. He called it “a most difficult day of memories.” Two nights later he wrote, “Nervous tensions and depression turned last night into a nightmare.” On Saturday, November 17, he received his first letters from home and suffered another emotional setback. After a full day of conference meetings on Sunday in Berlin, “Apostle ?” had such a severe nervous reaction that he remained away from the Monday evening meetings which were highly advertised and attended… A traveling companion wrote – In Berlin “Apostle ?” was so depressed he had to go to his hotel room and turn the conference over to me…. resulting in “Apostle ?” making journal entries such as this: “My nerves were so disturbed that it took me until 1:30 a.m. before I could get to sleep.” On September 28, 1965, “Apostle?” wrote: “It seems as though I was experiencing some reaction following the strains of the past months. I find it difficult to sleep.“…The grieving continued sporadically for another year or more as “Apostle ?” struggled to gain an emotional foothold and make a new life 

Who is “Apostle ?
… Harold B. Lee
Read the Chapter: Death’s Dark Angel Strikes
[Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1985], 351

Like Harold B. Lee, you and I will experience some type of depression. Boyd K Packer explains it this way:

It was meant to be that life would be a challenge. To suffer some anxiety, some depression, some disappointment, even some failure is normal. Teach our members that if they have a good, miserable day once in a while, or several in a row, to stand steady and face them. Things will straighten out. There is great purpose in our struggle in life. (“Solving Emotional Problems in the Lord’s Own Way,” Ensign, May 1978)

Robert D. Hales puts it this way:

The story of Job in the Old Testament relates three of the great tests we all should be prepared to face at some period in our lives. First, temporal setbacks. Job lost all he owned. Second, physical illness that will test our faith and testimony. And third, depression. Job said, “Why died I not from the womb?” (Job 3:11.) “My soul is weary of my life.” (Job 10:1.) (“Examples from the Life of a Prophet,” Ensign, Nov. 1981)

There are a variety of causes of “depression” and therefore a variety of “Types of depressions.” We use the same word depression” to describe a variety of very different conditions. For example check out the graph below.  Many different factors can cause “depression”.

Think of it this way, why is it someone can say
“I was depressed and….

I talked to the bishop, repented and got over it.”
I started exercising and eating right and got over it.”
I stopped taking that high blood pressure medication and got over it.”
I started taking that medication – Zoloft – and got over it.”
I just told myself I wasn’t going to be depressed any more and got over it.”
 I did all of the above and I’m still depressed.”

These and similar testimonies, are shared by others. (I’ll bet you’ve heard a few yourself.)
And they are probably “TRUE”… for that individual. But it may not be true for you because your type of “depression” may be different than their type of “depression.”

Depression” is notDepression” is notDepression.”

This is why it’s so important for prescribers, physicians, mental health professionals, church leaders, and YOU AND I –  to initially think broadly about the possible underlying causes of a depression. In order to effectively manage and eliminate depression knowing the type of depression can help. For example,

…for a depression related to sin one needs to visit with his/her clergy.

…for a depression related to a brain disorder one may need to visit a psychiatrist.

NOTE: Therefore, if you’ve been working for years on overcoming a “depression” using a specific strategy it’s possible you’ve got a different type of “depression” and need to use a different strategy!

The word “depression” seems to have become so commonly used now days that any time a person feels the slightest bit of sadness, they call it “depression.” Recently I heard a young adult say, “I’m so depressed I could die … I can’t find my cell phone!”  For the word “depression” on the Topical Guide at LDS.org you are told “See Despair; Sorrow.”

As a shrink –It’s difficult to know what you mean when you tell me “I’m depressed.”

The misuse of the word “depression” can confuse those persons who suffer from a debilitating “illness” that I’ll call “clinical depression.” When you have a “clinical depression“, it interferes with daily life and causes pain for both you and those who care about you. At times those persons with a “clinical depression”  believe they are experiencing a less severe “depression” and all they need to do is something like:

“…try harder or read more scriptures…”

These strategies will NOT effectively deal with a “clinical depression.”

Nevertheless, as Elder Hales suggests, everyone occasionally feels blue or sad – depressed. But these feelings are usually short-lived and pass within a couple of days …. or when she finds her cell phone :).

Here is an overview of what I’m calling a “Clinical Depression” as per DSM-V.  Generally speaking you qualify for the diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder – mild, 296.21 if the following symptoms have been present for a couple of weeks.

1) Depression typically includes several (5 is the sign of major concern!) of the following symptoms:
-*Feeling depressed, sad, empty or hopeless
-*Decline in interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities
-Significant weight loss or decrease in appetite
-Sleep problems -sleeping too much or not enough
-Feelings of restlessness or being slowed down
-Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt (This is a confusing one for Mormons)
-Decline in ability to think or concentrate, or decisiveness
-Recurrent thoughts of death even suicide

2) The symptoms typically cause impairment in daily living and/or significant personal distress. (DSM-V, pg. 180-181).

By the way- using these criteria, do you think Harold B. Lee was experiencing
some level of “Clinical Depression” in the story above?

NOTE: As an Apostle, Harold B. Lee suffered from depression for years, and still became the Prophet…
   – it’s okay if you have depression, if you do
   – and there is great HOPE for your future too!!!!!

“About two-thirds of people with major depression never seek appropriate treatment, and the consequences can be devastating: personal suffering, missed work, broken marriages, health problems and, in the worst cases, death. The World Health Organization ranks depression as one of the world’s most disabling diseases. Yet with treatment, 70% of people with clinical depression can improve, often in a matter of weeks. (Depression Health Center, WebMD)”

Clinical Depression” is a medical condition, just like any other medical condition. An illness that can happen to anyone – even apostles, even people who seem to have it all. Check out: 50 Famous People With Depression, Mental Illness.

Ready to get started in overcoming your depression? Read this: Got Depression? Do This…

To more carefully assess your personal depression consider taking this brief depression checklist: Depression Screening Test on PyschCentral. To better understand the mental illness “clinical depression” check out National Institute of Mental Health-Depression.

—  I’ll do a follow-up blog on this Depression: A Dark Angel blog and offer some suggestions of how to deal with clinical depression. Maybe even this week. We’ll see how the week goes. 🙂 —dr rick
dr rick blog index

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