DEPRESSION: What do we really know about depression? We might be able to look at someone and tell that they are down, blue, or sad on any given day. We might realize that someone is not laughing as much as they use to or that they are sleeping more. We might recognize some different symptoms in people close to us as they begin staying in the house more or staying to themselves more. But do we really understand depression? Do we know what causes depression or why some people react to the symptoms of depression the way they do. Depression can have a range from “I’m just kind of blue today” to all the way to “I’m at the end of my rope and I see no hope.” Some depressed people are diagnosed by their doctor and therefore are prescribed medication to help them deal with their depression. Others are self-diagnosed or un-diagnosed and are truly struggling with their difficult emotions. Some depression is seasonal as well as intermittent, while some depression is chronic. Many articles have been written on depression and living with depression. Recently there seems to be more and more advertisements for new anti-depressants on the television as well as in magazines. We live in a very depressed time and people are looking for answers or solutions to their depression.
I would like to offer some of my thoughts on depression today. Let me begin by offering a disclaimer so that I am not misunderstood. I know that I am not a licensed professional counselor nor am I a medical doctor. I am not trying to treat depression from a medical nor clinical perspective. I am a pastoral counselor as well as a board certified belief therapist. I believe that God’s Word gives us some principles that can help us learn to deal with our depression.
A good definition of depression is “internalized anger.” Now the symptoms of depression are much more complex than this definition. Symptoms can include sadness, grief, fatigue, hopeless, lack of motivation, guilt, over-eating or not eating, and much more than these. The symptoms can move all the way to suicidal thoughts or even homicidal thoughts. I have read different articles concerning the cause of depression and many of the authors list causes that range from a biological, genetic cause to trauma and stress in a person’s life. All of these can be true. I would like to focus what I believe to be the major cause of depression and that is rejection. Rejection can be real or it can be perceived. Rather it is real or perceived; the rejection is real to the person that feels it. Rejection begins a spiral downward from the initial feeling to the end result of depression. There are several steps down this spiraling staircase that will descend to the deepest form of rejection if a person does not deal with the root causes.
The first step on this staircase is the initial Rejection. All rejection hurts and causes us to react or to respond to that rejection. Many times we begin to think about why someone might have rejected us. We might ask the question, “Why is that person rejecting me?” “Or how can I change so I will not be rejected any more?” When we hurt, we want to get away from that hurt the best way possible or maybe the quickest way possible. No one likes to be rejected.
The second step on the staircase is Rebellion. Rebellion is the resistance to or defiance of any authority, control, or tradition. (Dictionary.com) When a person experiences rejection, they cross the bridge of hurt toward the step of rebellion. He rebels against even who he is supposed to be in order to change toward what he thinks someone else expects him to be. This rebellion includes an attitude of change that is not governed by the clear thinking of the individual, but rather is clouded by the hurt he is experiencing. As his attitude is changing toward rebellion, he then crosses the next bridge which is the fear of not being accepted still. This bridge leads him to the third step.
The third step of this staircase is Reaching out for acceptance. As the individual reaches out to others, he is inclined to change his behavior. He begins acting out of his fear, rather than his knowledge of what is right and wrong. These actions to not have to be severe, but they are wrong in and of themselves. Elijah’s actions were not severe, just wrong. Peter’s actions were not severe, but they were wrong. These wrong actions begin to lead a person to the feelings of guilt as well as to the next bridge which is the feeling of hopelessness.
Once a person reaches the bridge of hopelessness his next step will be depression. All of his steps are being clouded more and more by the hurt of the initial rejection. Many of the steps will provide more occasions of rejection along the way; therefore a person can be at different aspects of this spiraling staircase at the same time depending on the different circumstances. This depression can lead to a variety of suicides, meaning financial suicide, professional suicide, relational suicide as well as physical suicide.
I believe that an understanding of the principle that rejection can lead to depression can help an individual deal with his own depression. How a person deals with rejection might lead to how well he deals with his depression.
My next blog will deal with how we are to deal with rejection. I hope that we all can learn together to look at depression from a different point of view.