Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Gratitude and Depression

I think one should be careful about simplistic sounding answers to depression, which can have complicated sources and causes from a mixture of physical, relational, situational and spiritual factors. Nevertheless, it is true that sometimes simple actions can have great effects toward removing dark mental clouds. If emotions can affect actions, then actions can also affect emotions.  I like these suggestions from Brian Croft:
Depression is a dark, complex cloud.  It is a burden that takes time to work through and is usually a snare that those who struggle with it, struggle their entire lives.  While the counseling is being done, while the heart is being examined, while the gospel is being applied, and while the local church care is being extended, what can a depressed person do to fight against the darkness every day....
He then gives two simple suggestions.

1)  Force yourself to verbally acknowledge one thing you are grateful for to someone else.  The common posture for a depressed person is that they see no good in them or the world.  They are the poster child for the glass being half empty.  Yet, Paul tells us in ”everything give thanks” which does not exempt the deep darkness of depression.  If you are struggling with depression, force yourself to honestly and sincerely speak something you are grateful for.  It could be the smallest, simplest thing or person, but make sure you are experiencing gratefulness in your heart for it and someone else hears you speak it.

2)  Force yourself to go and serve someone else.  In my experience in caring for those struggling with depression, it is very natural and easy to sit around, do nothing, and think about how horrible your life is.  Fighting for joy means going against the grain of what you feel like doing, and doing that which would be good for you and others.  The best way to take your eyes off your own struggles, is to go and bless someone else in the midst of theirs.
What do you think?