A little over a week ago I wrote about how we use the words love and hate to the point that they’ve largely been diluted of their meaning. I mentioned that we use the word “love” to not only describe our feelings for another or God, but we also use “love” to describe our affinity for chocolate. Today, I want to talk about another overly used word: Depression.
“I’m feeling depressed” is a phrase used to describe everything from the loss of a card game to being suicidal. We throw around the words “depressed” and “depression” so much that we really don’t know what it truly signifies. We use it like it means that our energy levels or our spirits are a little low. There’s much more to true depression than that.
Although I’m not a psychologist, psychiatrist, or any other kind of mental health guru, I break depression down into three main categories. The first and most common is Functional Depression. Functional Depression is brought about by long-term “stink’n think’n” or negative perspectives and attitudes. When we look on the negative side of life for too long we are apt to fall into an emotional habit of gloom and melancholy. Like all depression, it tends to feed upon itself. The more negative we are the more negative life will seem. The more negative life seems, the more negative we become…and on and on. It’s a vicious cycle that sometimes requires help to break.
The second category, Clinical Depression, is what I categorize the level of depression which is so deep that it takes psychiatric drugs to make a person functional. In other words, the Functionally Depressed can get rid of their depression by changing their attitude, perspective, and emotional environment. They can be made normal by developing thankful hearts rather than being negative complainers and adjudicators of the world. With Clinical Depression, however, it takes medicine to get into the Functionally Depressed arena in which changes in attitude and perspective can help. Psychiatric research says that medicine alone, without counseling (change of perspective), is rarely effective.
The last category I use is what I call “Shock Depression.” This is the depression which occurs after a major shock in life. It often follows the death of a loved one or a major illness like a heart attack, stroke, fracture in the elderly, disability, or cancer. In these cases, the physical shock to the body and mind lends to a depressed emotional state without first going through the “stink’n think’n” phase. The throws of the trauma often open the door to depression without having first gone through a negative thinking phase. This can become a Clinical Depression quite rapidly if it isn’t recognized.
Regardless of any depression classifications, depression can be a very debilitating condition. It is said that 9.5% of Americans are depressed. Especially in a nation which is so blessed, that is an astounding number. It’s sad that so many people have such a negative outlook on life, work, and family etc. that they open the door to depression. Once depression gets a hold of someone it can be hard to countermand. It can be said that depression has its own way of thinking and speaking. Depression likes to tell us that we can do less than we can; things are worse than they are; we need more sleep than we do; and that we feel worse than we do. To effectively treat depression, the affected person must have a strong desire to change their current perspective, have ample moral courage, and be willing to let go of the benefits of being depressed.
The next time we are low on energy or feeling some malaise, we might want to be careful about saying, “Oh, I’m feeling kind of depressed today.” It might just initiate the beginning of something we don’t want anything to do with.