Here is the most recent guest article from My Broken Palace, a nonprofit organization that helps people in their time of brokenness. In case you’re unfamiliar with them, My Broken Palace is a charity dedicated to helping and healing those who are engaged in self-destructive behavior—that’s everything from untreated anxiety and depression all the way up the spectrum to cutting and suicidal thoughts/behavior. Their motto is “No one lonely, alone.” They host a free, anonymous social network where anyone can go and talk about their struggles without the fear of judgment. They’re super positive and uplifting. Depression and suicide are getting a ton of press recently due to Robin Williams’ tragic decision to end his life. We are not going to shy away from the issue—even though it’s a tough one.
Written by Jes Balascio of My Broken Palace
One of the hardest parts of recovery is admitting you have a problem, and many of us who struggle with depression know this very well. It’s really easy to write off our mood as a “bad day” or “the blues,” but sometimes those labels are just a smoke screen to mask a much bigger and more frightening disease.
Let me get a couple of things out of the way:
- Depression is a disease—it’s a chemical imbalance in your brain: low serotonin. It’s no different than your pancreas not producing enough insulin—that’s diabetes, and you’d get it treated. Depression is a treatable disease with a great deal of science behind it. If you’re depressed, then get the treatment you deserve. As with diabetes, there are behavior-modification and medical therapies used to treat depression.
- Depression is NOT your fault, and it’s not indicative of you lacking faith in God. Please see above; it’s a disease! Yes, all disease was brought on by sin in the Garden, but don’t ever let anyone tell you that your prayer life is lacking and that’s why you’re depressed. Yes, prayer is unfathomably helpful and a deep, abiding faith in Christ will help see you through, but this is a disease. It is not your fault that you feel crummy, and you need to talk to a medical professional.
- Depression has a bad rap in society because we always hear it as a contributing factor in horrific acts (people hurting others or themselves), but it’s very common, and the VAST majority of depressed people go through life without ever doing anything abnormal—certainly not harmful. Furthermore, there’s no shame in taking antidepressants.
For my part, I get up every morning, take my vitamins and antidepressant—both are designed to make me better, and that’s awesome.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that depression affects one in 10 Americans, with young adults (those under the age of 25) at the greatest risk of being affected.
Let’s take a minute and unpack the difference between a funk and a clinical, treatable depression. Generally, the rule is extremes, and you’ll see what I mean in a second. Here are a few things you should look for as distinguishing marks of a clinical (medical) depression:
- Symptoms lasting more than just “a few days”
- Mood: unpredictable anger, irritability or aggression
- Appetite changes: eating far more or less than usual
- Sleeping: not sleeping enough or sleeping too much
- Emotions: pervasive (usually unfounded) guilt, worthlessness or wanting to “be gone”*
- Lifestyle changes: lack of interest in things that once made you happy
- Masking: using drugs or alcohol to be happy
*If you feel like hurting yourself, please call My Broken Palace right away; our phone number is (800) 394-4678. We have highly trained professionals available to talk 24 hours a day.
Should you find yourself feeling just awful one day, don’t rush to the assumption that you need medication or that you’re clinically depressed. We all have bad days, days where we just can’t seem to win or get ahead. That’s totally normal. One of the marks of depression is that it outlasts a “normal” mood.
If you think you’re depressed, then you should talk to a physician. Your general provider (GP) or pediatrician will be able to point you in the right direction. Whatever you do, please get help. Many mental health professionals will team medication with therapy.
If there’s a place for My Broken Palace in your healing, then we’ll be honored to contribute. We’re here for you 24/7; sometimes it feels so good to have someone to talk to who doesn’t know you personally. We’re 100 percent anonymous and absolutely free! To sign up, pop over to mybrokenpalace.com. You should also join our daily text of spiritual encouragement. Send “join hope” to 40650, and reply “yes” to opt in. Standard text message rates will apply.
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