With 30,000 to 40,000 Americans dealing with depression, concentrating on the very best treatment for it was right at the top of the list for my graduate school training.
I remember learning to perform the #1 form of therapy for depression, cognitive behavioral therapy, during my time at Wheaton (which unlike my undergrad experience, was my dream school!).
My professor, the amazing Dr. McMinn, was one of the foremost Christian experts in the field.
I was a little nervous practicing on my peer in front of him, but he had no critiques for me. I was happily shocked. But then again, it was that easy!
It was all about helping clients change their thoughts from negative ones to positive, and something was grossly familiar about that.
I remember thinking the “Fathers of CBT Psychotherapy” even though most were atheists when the therapy was first developed, could have found validation for their research by just looking in Scripture.
Their ideas about how to change thoughts were and are in fact totally biblical principles.
Here’s the basis of CBT. Since it’s not as easy to change feelings directly, we help our clients change their feelings by changing their negative thought patterns.
Here are two of my favorite Bible verses supporting this idea,
Phil 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
And 2nd Cor 10:5b says, “We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
So why is that relevant to you today?
Well, if you are struggling with depression or have a loved one who is (and odds are that you do know someone), take HUGE comfort in remembering that the Bible was the first and most awesome CBT manual for how to receive care.
Cognitive behavioral therapy tells you the same treatment methods, and we love using its various tools. But CBT alone does not have “the hope piece” of Christ tied to it which is one of the reasons I wanted to start my own business which has Christian values. If someone wants to incorporate faith into their work with us, we have a host of great info to share.
So if you are struggling with depression, don’t allow stigma or a lack of hope to besiege you!
God knew your struggle from the beginning of time and He has a very good plan for your life (Jeremiah 29:11).
Remember also that many biblical characters struggled with depression. It’s been around since the Garden of Eden when sin first separated man from God.
However, there are all kinds of depression and if you are experiencing it, it’s worth bringing it to someone who cares and has experience treating it.
My team of counselors at RCC has experience working with you in your depression. And as promised, here are five fast-acting, natural ways to help lift your depression!
We also have a page on our website dedicated to helping you understand it here if you’d like further info!
- Build Routine: Routine is so counter-intuitive to someone struggling with depression but it’s oh-so-good for you in the thick of it! Write lists and make phone calls, make simple meals, listen to podcasts, read blogs, or whatever you need to do to fill up your time with good things! Write down your daily plan of action and keep referring to it and checking things off as you do them. Use my 1-Sheet Shortcut at my resources page here! Make a copy of the list so it’s in front of you every day. Working, goal setting, and planning are all part of this. Don’t forget to celebrate your small accomplishments as well as the large.
- Work Out: Exercise brings out the natural endorphins you need to beat depression. As I’ve mentioned before, even if it’s as small as ten arm or leg lifts a day, a brisk walk with the dog or a few squats, you will feel better for having done it. Morning is best to get a daily kickstart (literally) especially if you struggle with sleep at night. Exercise can be part of the daily plan of action/routine you set!
- Eat Good Fuel: Eat foods rich in Omega 3s, such as tuna, avocado and spinach if your diet allows and get plenty of protein so you don’t wilt. Enjoy splurging on things you won’t pay for later. You know your body, but get to know it better so you can enjoy your food and fuel up, too!
- Pray And Challenge Your Negativity: Give God the daily stresses in your situation. God is ready and willing to hear you and to take any anger you have as well as sadness. Add music to your time with God sometimes. Listen to soothing classical music on Pandora or inspirational artists such as For King & Country (feelings/story/inspirational rock), Lauren Daigle (Pop/Inspirational Rock), Chris Tomlin (worship) or someone else who feeds your soul with hope, rest or healthy movement depending on your need of the moment! Journaling is great too but there’s a time and a place and we will talk about unhealthy journaling soon also!
- Get Out: Schedule time with friends, your counselor, and/or volunteering at church. Most people enjoy getting out about once a day for errands and work, or a few times a week for socializing. If you’re married, ask your spouse to do errands with you for companionship on your dark days when you may need to be pulled out of the rut.
So today if you’re feeling depression, don’t either dramatize or underplay it. Instead, tell a loved one so they can help you to make the best decisions even when you may not feel up to it. You can also call us anytime at 941-301-8420.
To find out if you have depression, take a quick and reliable inventory here! If you score 17 or higher on this scale, please contact us or another mental health provider for immediate help. You have learned today that depression is HIGHLY treatable and I hope that’s encouraging news!