In despair, Joe called – He suffers from severe depression and is often suicidal. – the young man reassured me he has taken his guns to his parents’ home. I could hear the panic in his voice as he described the world around him crumbling – He just ran out of his medication; Refuses to go to counseling; is underemployed; …. The bishop has stopped helping him financially.
Resources = 0 (no counseling; no meds; no family support; no exercise; no spirituality; NO HOPE; etc etc)
Stress = 100+ (drinking alcohol to self medicate; can’t keep a job; finances about ready to crash; wife is going to leave him; etc etc)
If he continues to have more stress than resources there will be a funeral or a psychiatric hospital admission coming his way. (I don’t get why LDS people think they are immune to consequences of inadequate self-care.)
get depressed and overwhelmed too!
Untreated depression is bad news 🙁
I’m going to tell you the road map I’m using with Joe (and others) – in changing lifestyle away from “depression.” I believe this road map…
….is consistent with God’s plan and will facilitate the windows of heaven to open on your behalf;
….maximizes the effectiveness of medical and psychological resources available to you;
….strengthens your spirit body, mind, and physical body. (See: Anatomy of a Soul);
….relies heavily on your best resource: Self-Reliance.
I am confident there is hope for you to lighten your depression as you change your depressive lifestyle. Research suggests – If you want to loose weight -change your lifestyle. If you want to manage your diabetes -change your lifestyle. If you want to lighten your depression -change your lifestyle.
Did I say,
(This is true for any mental illness.)
1) Accept responsibility for overcoming your depression.
Read: Solving Emotional Problems in the Lord’s Way.
Yes, you’re going to use resources… as many as you can get!!!! And for serious depressions some of those resources will be Outside Professional Resources. The purpose of resources is NOT TO RELIEVE YOU from taking care of your depression; But, to HELP YOU TAKE CARE OF YOUR DEPRESSION.
2) Identify -the best you can- the cause for your “depression”.
Begin with a thorough physical exam to help identify the cause of your depression -Make sure you check the obvious: hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, low levels of iron, hormone levels, etc etc! When you initially search for the cause of your depression be very open minded, Remember, there are many causes of depression. See Causes of Depression from WebMD. (Add to this list – sin – “despair cometh because of iniquity.” (Moro. 10:22.) Oh yea … when you get your physical exam and tell the doctor you are depressed and s/he offers you medication for depression (That’s what doctors do is prescribe drugs.) consider telling the doctor “Let’s wait, I want to see what I can do on my own.” Another important step if you’re on medications already, is to call a pharmacist and ask if depression is the side-effect of any of you’re medication.
3) Manage your thoughts.
Regardless of the cause for your depression, negative self-talk almost always makes it worse. Become aware of your THOUGHTS. Attempt to control them… especially the negative self-statements you make like “I’m crazy. I’m a bad mom. I’m borderline. I’m no good. Nothing works. I’m broken. I might as well be dead…” Read: Tell me your thoughts. I’ll tell you your future. Remember, if you have a “depression” caused by mental illness (or other mental illnesses like “obsessive compulsiveness” ) your ability to manage some thoughts WILL BE IMPAIRED – these diseases can cause certain thought patterns. Simply use resources to distract from the negative – the best you can.
4) Evaluate your current resources and stress levels.
Read: Five to Survive
Follow-your impressions from personal revelation and common sense on developing resources and/or lowering stress. With depression, it’s clear that medication alone isn’t enough (it’s only ONE resource)— one resource is not a “lifestyle” change. You’ll need at least five resources. Developing resources that work for you – like nutrition, exercise, adequate sleep, hobbies, music, service etc etc is a key part of changing your lifestyle and overcoming depression.
5) Pray daily out loud – about how
you might overcome your depression.
“Prayer in the hour of need is a great boon. From simple trials to our Gethsemanes, prayer can put us in touch with God, our greatest source of comfort and counsel. “Pray always, that you may come off conqueror” (D&C 10:5)—persistent prayer. “Exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me” is how the young Joseph Smith describes the method which he used in the Sacred Grove to keep the adversary from destroying him. (JS—H 1:16.) This is also a key to use in keeping depression from destroying us.” (Do Not Despair, Ezra Taft Beson, Ensign Oct 1986)
6) Fast – about how you might
overcome your depression.
“Periodic fasting can help clear up the mind and strengthen the body and the spirit. The usual fast, the one we are asked to participate in for fast Sunday, is for 24 hours without food or drink. Some people, feeling the need, have gone on longer fasts of abstaining from food but have taken the needed liquids. Wisdom should be used, and the fast should be broken with light eating. To make a fast most fruitful, it should be coupled with prayer and meditation; physical work should be held to a minimum, and it’s a blessing if one can ponder on the scriptures and the reason for the fast.” (Do Not Despair, Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign Oct 1986)
7) Search the Internet for ideas on how you might overcome
your depression – including LDS.org.
Read these for starters:
Depression: A Dark Angel (dr rick’s blog)
Solving Emotional Problems in the Lord’s Way (dr rick’s blog)
Do Not Despair (Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign Oct 1986)
Signs of Mental Illness – Help for Mental Illness (LDS.org Disability Resources)
Self-Help and Coping Tips to Overcome Depression (HelpGuide.org)
8) Talk about ideas of how you might overcome your
depression with a trusted family member or friend.
“The fellowship of true friends who can hear you out, share your joys, help carry your burdens, and correctly counsel you is priceless. For one who has been in the prison of depression, the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith have special meaning when he said, “How sweet the voice of a friend is; one token of friendship from any source whatever awakens and calls into action every sympathetic feeling.” (Do Not Despair, Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign Oct 1986) If you do not have a trusted family member or friend with whom you can talk, find one.
9) Have your name placed on the “prayer roll” in the local LDS Temple
and ask for a Priesthood Blessing.
Treat your “depression” like any other disease you might encounter and use spiritual resources!!! Get a Priesthood Blessing. If you don’t have access to active Priesthood holders contact the missionaries they’d love to come into your home and give you a Priesthood Blessing. See: Meet the Missionaries. Another often forgotten resource is putting your name on the local LDS Temple Prayer roll. Look here to find the temple closest to you: Contact information for LDS Temples. Simply call them and request your name be placed on the prayer roll. They’ll know what you mean. To receive, and then consistently and prayerfully ponder, your patriarchal blessing can also provide help.
10. Give it time – There is hope.
“Hope in God, His goodness, and His power refreshes us with courage during difficult challenges.” (The Infinite Power of Hope, Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Oct 2008 General Conference).
For example, even medicines take a few weeks to become most effective. Time is part of healing.
–Let’s be honest
You’re not going to do all of this stuff anyway…
I’ve spent 30+ years learning the lifestyle change necessary to lighten your depression. The road map works.
and most of you aren’t going to follow the road map anyway, even though you suffer from depression.
(Which is okay I understand human nature a little. Feel free to do nothing -or just take a pill – and keep paying me that $100 a therapy session….Karla and I want to get to Hawaii sometime soon. 🙂
One reason is …Unfortunately, the “symptoms of the depression” are often the vary obstacles preventing you from change – Remember symptoms of depression e.g. fatigue, easily overwhelmed, hopelessness, worthlessness, low self-esteem, …. thoughts that you DO NOT BELIEVE in you –
🙁 That’s okay -let’s keep this simple.
Review the ten tasks above. As you do, be open to your personal impressions. ( Personal Impressions include personal revelation and common sense. It’s been my experience that MOST impressions come from common sense.) So while you’re reviewing the list of ten, be receptive to
Common sense may tell you…
Personal revelation may inspire you…
…to make an appointment with a Outside Professional Resource.
Select ONE impression.
Do it. The best you can.
dr rick’s blog index