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Persevering Through Depression And Seasonal Affective Disorder

After reading this, please check out our friends at Positive HealthWellness.   They have some excellent tips for dealing with Seasonal Depression.

The winter months are a giant Catch 22.  Kids get to enjoy a snow day filled with snowball fights and hot chocolate while the adults get to unbury their cars and brave the weather to get to work.

The joy and cheer that comes with Christmas time can become overshadowed by thoughts of loved ones who are no longer with us.

Valentine’s Day is a fantastic holiday for couples to express their love for one another, but if you’re not in a committed relationship then Valentine’s Day just becomes another day to be reminded of your status as a bachelor (or bachelorette).

Of all the potential downers of the winter season, none is more threatening or powerful than seasonal depression.  Seasonal affective disorder (ironically abbreviated SAD) typically takes place from the beginning of fall to the end of winter.[1]  The biggest factor that contributes to SAD is the lack of sunlight during this time of the year which disrupts your internal clock and creates a lack of serotonin in the brain.[2]  Coupled with the lack of light would be what was mentioned in the previous paragraph:  being cramped up inside all day, memories of loved ones who have passed on, and the reminder that you’re perpetually forever a resident of the friend-zone, can all contribute to feelings of depression and loneliness, and being lethargic.

I wrestle with depression all year round, but I definitely feel the effects of the lack of sunlight during the winter months.  I become very apathetic during the winter months.  There were times in college when all I felt like doing was laying on my bed; to turn over seemed like a daunting task.  Thankfully, God has brought me on a path of healing and although I am not cured of my depression, I am a lot better.

So coming from someone who has and is going through seasonal depression, I would like to offer some help.  Think of this article as a way to get started on the path to healing.

Spiritually:  Turn to God

You are not alone.  God has promised to always be there and He is always a prayer away.  His Word is right there within your grasp if you need the reminder of the truth that you are His adopted child.  Feel anxious?  He is the God of all peace and the Holy Spirit is our comfort.  Pray, read or listen to Scripture, or even turn on your favorite worship songs.  Seek the Lord.

Relationally:  Turn to others

You are not alone.  It is always good to have someone close that you can confide in about your situation.  Sometimes it’s good to have more than one person to talk to about how you are feeling and what is going on.  Close friends or relatives, your pastor, youth pastor or mentor would love to listen and care for you.

Emotionally:  Turn to paper

Okay, this point and the next one are flexible.  Let me explain.  When I get really depressed or anxious I like to journal or write poetry as a way to express my emotions in a healthy way.  Of course, if you are not a writer, but prefer to play an instrument or do something artistic to express yourself then go for it.  The point is to find a healthy way to express your pent up emotions.  Now if you don’t have a way to express yourself then I totally recommend journaling and creative writing.

Physically:  Turn to the gym

Again, this is flexible.  Depression can make people feel lethargic, and to get active is a good way to get your mind off of what is going on.  You don’t have to get a gym membership though.  Come up with some light workout you can do in the house, take up yoga, every remotely warm day go for a run or walk, and if all else fails make up a playlist of all your favorite catchy pop songs and dance around.

Now I know that everyone reading this article may not have depression.  I don’t want to leave you hanging, so let me give you some tips on how you can help us as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Spiritually:  Point us to the truth

We need you to encourage us to turn to God.  Remind us of the truth that is in Scripture about who we are in Christ.  Please, pray for and with us.

Relationally:  Don’t beat us to death with the Bible

We need the reminder of the truth, but don’t give us a concussion with the Scripture.  Sometimes people make the mistake of trying to cram the Bible down our throats and forget that this is a physical issue we are experiencing.  In the moment we do need the truth of Scripture, but we also need someone to listen to us talk (and maybe offer a hug too).

Emotionally:  Be creative with us

If you and your depressed friend or family member share a creative hobby then join them in the creative process.  Jam out, paint, or write together.  If you don’t share a creative hobby then offer encouragement and be open to listening to what your friend or family member wants to share with you.

Physically:  Get us moving

Drag us out the door on a warm, sunny, 40 degree day for some fresh air.  Check in to see if we are doing anything to be active during the day.  You can even “shut up and dance” with us too!

Like I said, this is just a starting point to help you persevere through your depression.  You can search this online and find really good additional advice.  Keep fighting and keep looking to the Great Physician.  He can heal you, and will be with you every step of the way.  I’m not promising if you do all this that you will be cured 100% in a week, but if you start incorporating these into your lifestyle you will begin to see a difference.  For those of you who do not struggle with depression, we really appreciate your love, encouragement, and patience with us.  Having people like you on our side makes the battle a lot easier.

[1] Mayo Clinic, “Seasonal Affective Disorder”, http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/basics/causes/con-20021047

[2] Web MD, “Mental Health Center:  Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)-Topic Overview”, http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/tc/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad-topic-overview

 

About Brandon K

Brandon K
Brandon Knight is a young gun, a martial artist, and a wannabe writer. He resides in northwest Indiana and is a seminary student at Moody Theological Seminary. Brandon has a passion for preaching the Gospel and seeing it transform lives. He loves Jesus, comic books, and the Chicago Cubs.

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One comment

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    Hello Brandon- good article and good, practical, advice on how to deal with depression. And also, good input to give people to help OTHERS around them. Thanks for sharing…

    I agree with your points. God Bless,
    Ken

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