Friday, November 4, 2016

Dealing With Depression, Part Three

Yesterday we dealt with the physical aspect of depression. Today I would like to deal with the mental component. I think it’s obvious to everyone that depression affects our mental capabilities, but what is often overlooked is the fact that our thinking plays a huge role in causing our depression in the first place. Our thoughts determine our attitudes, and our attitudes determine our outlook on life. Negative thoughts lead to negative attitudes which lead to negative outlooks, and thus, depression is born.

We all know what the Bible has to say about our thought patterns. In fact, it is very clear what we should think on. Philippians 4:8 tells us,  Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.  Pretty clear, huh? But remember what I said: depression affects our thinking. When in the midst of discouragement or hopelessness, our thought patterns can become so twisted that we can put a negative spin on positive things.

“Yes, God has been good to me, but…”

“Yes, I got the job that I wanted, but…”

“Yes, I love my children, but…”

No matter how good we have it or how much we've been blessed, when in the midst of depression, we have a tendency to turn our blessings into burdens as I talked about in a previous post. Rather than focus on the good in our lives, our attention is continuously drawn to the bad. The more we focus on the bad, the deeper into depression we sink. And, if we’re not careful, it can become a never-ending cycle.

So what can we do? How can we break the cycle if thinking on the good only helps us to focus on the bad? The answer to that is that we have to saturate our minds so thoroughly with the truth of God’s love, grace and mercy that we don’t have the time or capability to counteract it with negative thoughts. Some people can do this by immersing themselves in the word of God, and if that works for you, I strongly suggest it. However, others of us find ourselves too distracted and downhearted to follow through and believe the Scriptures. The same goes for prayer. Some discover that talking to God helps them release their burdens and lightens the depression while others find that they are simply too overwhelmed to even know what to say to God.  Obviously, reading the Bible and praying are important, so keep trying even if it feels like it’s not helping.

The Bible teaches that there are times in our lives where we need to be still, but I don’t believe that depression is one of those times. In fact, I believe the opposite is true because when we’re still, we're only focusing on our problems and our despair. We need to keep our minds and bodies active, but for now I simply want to deal with the mind. Lord willing, I’ll deal with the other part tomorrow. 

Keeping your mind active is the process of filling it with good things at such a rate that your mind does not have time to wander or come up with any negative things of its own. One of my favorite ways to accomplish this is by listening to gospel music, Bible teachings and sermons, and with today’s technology, this is easier than ever. You can visit YouTube, iTunes, various podcasts and much more to find wholesome music and/or Bible studies to fill your mind with God’s truths, and the best part is, most of it is free. This may not work for everyone, but I have found it easier to pay attention and keep my mind focused when someone else is speaking, and the wonderful thing about audio programs is that you can listen to them while you drive, do housework, exercise and much more. Listening–really listening–to things like this will help to keep your mind from wandering to negative things and dwelling on the what-ifs of life. It will also immerse your heart and mind in the truths of God’s word, which is exactly what you need to combat the lies of the devil and the confusion that results from your discouragement and despair.

Here are a few speakers and programs I recommend if you would like to try this approach to healing your mind during depression:

Max Lucado - Search “Max Lucado” on YouTube, and you’ll find several complete series.
David Jeremiah - Search “David Jeremiah” on YouTube.
Pandora Radio - Use the free Pandora app and create your own radio station of your favorite gospel or Christian artists.  Pandora allows you to tell them what music you like and what you don’t, so you can personalize your station to make it fit your needs and tastes.

Again, if you would like my help in choosing good material with which to fill your mind, feel free to contact me.  I’d be happy to help.  The key is to make sure you don’t leave yourself too much time for idle thoughts.  This can lead to big trouble and deeper depression!

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