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Doing Life Together

 

vintage-2373083_1920Awhile back, I posted on my Facebook page a question, “Is it easy to talk about depression in the church?” The overwhelming response to the question was, “No.” In fact, the church was the last place most people felt they could discuss the subject that affects 1 out of 10 people in our country. We need to do better. We need to understand what depression is all about.

Most people are unaware of the many causes of depression. It is a complicated disorder that requires on-going attention and treatment.

Depression can be a result of medical conditions such as hypothyroidism, Cushing’s, heart disease, sleep apnea, strokes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, hormonal imbalances, HIV and AIDS, cancer, autoimmune disorders, seizure disorders and chronic pain.

Depression is also associated with substance abuse and withdrawal from long-term use of many drugs such as cocaine, sedatives, narcotics and steroids.

It is more common in people with a family history of mental illness, suggesting genetic involvement and heritable traits. And people with depression experience biological changes in their brains. Brain chemicals go out of balance and hormone changes can create depressive symptoms.

Traumatic life events such as childhood trauma, death, loss, financial pressures and stress that strains a person’s ability to cope all play a role as well.

Certain personality traits make a person more susceptible to depression. Medication side-effects can cause depression.  For example, a common medication such as Accutane, used to treat acne, has a side effect of depression in some people.

While the causes of depression are complicated, treatment is available and effective. We know the signs: difficulty concentrating, fatigue, feelings of hopelessness, guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, insomnia or excessive sleeping, loss of pleasure, overeating or appetite changes, sad, anxious or empty feelings, and thoughts of suicide.

If you struggle, don’t do so in silence. Tell your physician or a mental health professional and get the help you need. Let’s all be a part of making the church aware that people in our congregations struggle in this area and need to discuss depression without the stigma attached or some accusation of having little faith. Based on all the possible ways people can experience depression, don’t judge, rather love and encourage people to get help.

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