Learn the less common symptoms of depression. Learn what you might be doing wrong in responding to your loved one. Should Christians get depressed? Do you know warning Signs for Suicide.
Many people wonder about depression and experience it at some point in their lives. The word has lost much of its meaning within our culture where it is common to use it to describe a down day or the response to sad news. Clinical depression is more serious than a case of the blues and it’s not something that you can easily shake off.
Common symptoms of depression include:
Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or being “numb"
Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
Loss of interest in activities that you used to enjoy
A lack of motivation and decreased energy
Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
Insomnia, or excessive sleeping and fatigue
Overeating or appetite loss
Thoughts of suicide and possibly suicide attempts
Less obvious or well-known symptoms include:
Aches and pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment (Often times if we ignore mental health issues they will manifest with more physical symptoms.)
Irritability, anger, and restlessness (Many depression suffers deal with more anger and irritability than sad feelings usually associated with depression. People may feel “on edge” like every little thing stirs up their temper.)
Anxiety and panic attacks (Depression and anxiety often go hand in hand.)
Significant weight loss or weight gain (With the changes in eating habits, weight can fluctuate.)
Reckless behavior (People may try to “escape” through addictive behavior, substance abuse, gambling, dangerous activities, and risky sexual behavior.)
In some cases severe depression can be accompanied by hallucinations and delusions, in these cases professional help is especially important.
Clinical depression lasts (more days than not) for a period of at least two weeks. Additionally, clinical depression interferes with basic daily functions and may impact your work, school, relationships, and personal life.
If you or someone you love seems to meet these criteria it would be a good idea to speak with a professional who can assess whether they are facing clinical depression or if there are any other mental health concerns.
Well-Meaning Failed Responses to Depression
People who don’t understand depression may try unsuccessfully to be encouraging. Some people suggest reasons you should be happy or try to help you reason your way out of depression. The problem is depression is not a logic based choice. Many who suffer can logically see that life is not that bad, but feel unexplainably trapped by their depression.
Or you may encounter the belief that you should be able to “pull yourself up by your bootstraps”. People who say this probably have never truly dealt with depression themselves. It’s understandable that those who have never experienced the depth of hopelessness, might feel like you were consciously deciding to be a pessimist or somehow seeking attention.
What causes depression?
Depression is caused by a variety of factors including but not limited to negative and distorted thought patterns, unresolved trauma and grief, difficult life situations, and genetic factors related to brain chemistry. We can help you explore the complex background of your depression and address them. While we cannot prescribe medications, we can make referrals if this is something you want to consider as part of your treatment.
What about dealing with Depression as a Christian?
One of the most damaging responses we frequently see in the Christian community. People are unfortunately told that their depression is the result of a lack of faith, not enough prayer, sin in their life, etc. This view is very hurtful and misguided, because depression is not a choice any more than diabetes or Celiacs is a choice.
The bible even showed the face of depression through the ups and downs of King David in the psalms. David was known as “the one after God’s own heart” not because he was always full of joy or even always did the right thing. He called out to God in his feelings of hopelessness, but was not necessarily healed of his depression so much as being met there and having assurance that God saw his pain.
This is not to say that God can’t bring full healing, but sometimes for reasons we may not understand, He doesn’t end the storm, but asks us to be still and know that he is God.
While depression is a serious condition there is hope. While there is no quick fix, most people who commit to therapy are able to see significant reduction in their symptoms, and some find complete freedom. We would be honored to walk with you through your depression and help weave some threads of hope through your situation.
Do you know the warning signs for suicide?
Excessive thoughts or talk of suicide “I’d be better off if I weren’t here anymore”
Talking about plans for suicide or self-harm. “I think I would overdose on my sleeping pills.”
Expressing strong feelings of hopelessness
Reckless behavior, like extremely fast driving and running stop signs
Saying goodbye to people, even subtly. “I probably won’t be around much longer.”
Getting affairs in order. Ie: giving away possessions, closing bank accounts, etc.
A sudden switch from behaving very depressed to acting calm and content.
If you or someone you love has expressed any of these red flags, please seek help; don’t wait. If you are feeling suicidal call the National suicide prevention lifeline at 1 (800) 273-8255 or for Washington County MN residents help is available through Canvas Health at 651-777-5222.
If you believe someone you love is in imminent danger of hurting themselves, escort them to a nearby emergency room. Do not trust them to drive themselves!