Someone who is clinically depressed (having great difficulty with normal daily functioning) probably cannot help themselves nor seek help. Someone who loves and cares for that person must take responsibility and refer them to competent psychiatric help. A psychiatrist may use many resources, including antidepressant drugs, which bring recovery to 70 to 95 percent of clinically depressed people.
If you are not clinically depressed, but want to work out of a lesser depression, try this process:
1. Identify the loss that is causing the depression.
2. Gather all the information and truth that you can about the loss.
3. Express your feelings.
4. Decide what to do about the loss.
5. Develop a climate of support and love.
6. Get inoculations of hope from God, friends, leisure, books, and whatever gives you renewal.
1. Identify the loss that has caused the depression. It's extremely helpful to talk to a trusted friend or a pastoral or community counselor. Share with that person what you've discovered and let him or her be a mirror to reflect to you what they see and hear you are saying--helping you to pinpoint your loss.
2. Gather all the information and truth that you can about the loss. Again, a friend can be very helpful. Remember this is not a whitewash or a cover-up; you really are going to confront truth.
3. Allow your feelings to be expressed. Obviously, some of your feelings are going to be coming out as you identify the loss and explore the truth about it. But at this stage deliberately ask yourself what you feel about this loss--not what you think.
Sometimes writing out your feelings will help you understand them more accurately. Verbalize to another person exactly what you feel and the intensity of those feelings.
In the process you'll have a good cry or several good cries. Don't sweep crying under the rug by saying, "Well, that's just another expression of my weakness."
4. Decide what to do about the loss. Now that you have identified the loss, understand all the truth about it, and have expressed your feelings--what are you going to do about it? Remind yourself that you're a survivor and that you're going to make decisions that will move you toward health, growth, productivity, and effectiveness. What decisions will help to move you in those positive direction?
Let's imagine the loss to be that of losing youth. Your decision might be to deliberately emphasize the strengths that you have now at midlife with a great deal more insight and knowledge about life. You deliberately are not going to compete with young bodies. Don't make the bikini or macho muscles your point of competition, but use your brains and your experience.
If you've experienced marital loss, make decisions for reconstruction of that marriage. Do whatever you can to develop true communication, meet your spouse’s needs, make changes in yourself, or whatever must be done to restore and enrich your relationship.
5. Develop a climate of support and love. Put yourself in situations where you are with groups of people who are very supportive, loving, and optimistic, and who will extend themselves to you. Carefully cultivate any people who have opened themselves to you so that you have the emotional support you need to help you recover.
6. Get inoculations of hope. You need a steady diet of positive, hopeful messages being introduced into your life. Deliberately turn away from the loss, now that you have fully experienced it and completely grieved over it. Turn your face toward the future and toward God.
A helpful procedure that we have often recommended is to read through the Psalms thoughtfully--making personal applications. The Psalms were written by people who struggled deeply with life, but who also had learned about hope.
Yes, life has many potential experiences for depression and trial, but God is there to walk with you through those low valleys. "But now, thus says the Lord, your Creator--He who formed you--do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the water, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior" (Isaiah 43:1-3, NASB)
Conway / Farrel Articles ~ Reprint by permission only, ©2011
Midlife Dimensions ~ www.Midlife.com
The Conways and Farrels are international speakers and popular authors.
Midlife Dimensions is a ministry founded by the Conways and continued by the Farrels.