According to the National Mental Health Association, more than 19 million Americans suffer from clinical depression annually. Spiritual practices can, however, offer solace, hope, or even a means of regaining health. Preview a sampling of insights from our Depression & Spirituality discussion
where users present an intriguing range of perspectives on the connection between spirituality and mental health.
If you are depressed or love someone who is, never ever give up, because it can only get better, and will... I thank God everyday for helping me... and that was my turning point. Asking for help, and letting go. The mind is a miracle, if we fill it with enough joy and love, it will over power all that junk that cripples us... My faith is my most valued possesion these days. Shalom.
I think the love of God is the healing balm of life.
In those moments of spiraling into the abyss, it helps to remember what we've known to be true and real before the spiral started--and we can remember by hearing other people speak about the reality of God's love... We were made for Life--and the darkness will pass and light will come again.
It is because of the struggles with my mental illness that I have found a new understanding of what I call God. everyone must find their own way. I try only to offer my hope for another fellow traveler.
It has been Buddhist meditation that has enabled me to finally see depression for what it is. It has enabled me to step back and look at it objectively and dispassionately... We may conceptualize God/the Absolute differently, but love remains the central concept.
To be known fully and loved fully is to know joy and peace and healing... I have not been free of depression since coming to faith--but somehow the knowledge of God's love keeps the bottom from feeling quite as low as it used to--or maybe it's that "a hand" seems to catch me before I hit the pit.
What do you think of the role of spirituality in mental health?
Soul & Spirit
I believe that my depression is both a spiritual and a physical dilemma... It sucks my spirit dry. I lose all sense of spiritual connection.
Now I realize depression is not an other, but a fundamental part of who I am. This stance, I believe, is a fundamentally spiritual one--coming to terms with what we are, who we are. This is the essence it all. Whether we define ourselves in terms of our relationship with Christ, or in some other way, depression has to be a part of the equation.
I think what many on this board have described is a kind of death of the soul... Depression is the opposite of Life.
Where is the soul during all of this pain and darkness? Does it takes a vacation?
How to remain spiritually connected when one feels bad is definitely a challenge...
The Spirit is the part of us that is unborn, does not die, and has no stake in the outer life. In my mind, depression can also arise from being out of touch with this deepest level of being. Only things like prayer and meditation can help here.
I suffer from great depressions at times, but with the help of a great therapist and a God of my understanding, I survive... For me my illness has brought me a spirituality that I don't think I would have had if I had been "normal."
Like Job, love God, trust God, and realize that God's reasons are his own...that maybe our suffering is God's suffering, that our healing is the mending of God, too.
How much do you think depression has to do with the modern "rat race?" There is no longer a solid structure of spirituality built into the average person's worldview, so there is nothing to explain why you feel so alienated and helpless, or what to do to make things better. Have there always been depressed people, or is it all the Enlightenment's fault?
Does your spirituality help lift you out of depression, or make you feel more profoundly the "weight of the world?"
I've found that even the most simple form of meditation can give me a boost, make me move my day on when i get stuck in my mind somewhere...
I would say that anyone who has a clinical depression needs to get treatment right away, because it is almost too painful to bear, and treatment is available... It is a good time to look inward into the well of spirituality, no matter what the path, that dwells in all our hearts, to see our reflection there and remember from where this well sprang.
I find my own religious practice (Judaism) to be very helpful in regards to my depression. Observant Jews say blessings for just about everything: before eating or drinking, upon seeing a rainbow, upon hearing thunder, before performing a religious obligation... What all this has taught me is that it is necessary for me to respond to life, and to respond in positive ways.
The tricky part is that to be really spiritual is to fully engage the world, while at the same time being free from its prisons...
Another trick I try to use is to thank G-d out loud for everything that happens to me. I find it is especially important to thank Him /Her for the bad stuff---yes, I said it is important to thank G-d (through gritted teeth if necessary) for every big or small tragedy that hits us.
The first step in controlling your depression is learning the cause whether it be chemical or emotional and developing a plan to fight it. Most of all, seek solace in your beliefs.