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Prognosis for and Recovery from Depression

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For someone struggling with depression, the future often appears bleak as they wonder how they will manage living life with an illness that feels crappy, is a dark veil distorting how they view life, and acts like a vacuum cleaner sucking joy and hope out of most of life’s experiences. They fall into the trap of believing this is the way they were born and will always be so treatment won’t help them. Others know something is wrong but are embarrassed, it’s their own fault, or feel they are a lost cause so they don’t seek treatment.

Yet others, more often men, think they can fight through depression on their own, and the depression and all its destruction continues.

Increasing the doom and gloom, the news and media frequently reveal the distress, relational turmoil, addiction, suicide, and other damages associated with depression while there never is a depression awareness day, ribbon, pin, or celebration. It’s normal to question whether or not to get help for depression. People often have excuses and fears that keep them from seeking help, or they are unsure about the prognosis of recovery, and so they put off getting help. In the meantime, their depression worsens, sometimes to the point of suicide, which is now the second leading cause of death in the United States.

When experiencing thoughts of death or suicide, a person feels unable to tolerate the pain in their life, and is willing to take drastic action to relieve that pain. But instead of a permanent solution, without any benefits, to the temporary problem of depression, thankfully, we have discussed in the treatment section for depression a number of beneficial strategies to relieve the pain, heal our heart and mind, and transform our lives. These strategies are built on Bible-based Christ-centered life management principles focusing on God’s love and plan for our life by renewing our mind using sound brain and psychological science.

Thankfully, hope is real and the prognosis for recovery from depression is quite good, in fact better than comparable serious medical illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Relief, healing, and cure are not just possible, but a powerful reality for millions of people. However, even though a cure is possible, healing is a process that takes time, requiring dedication and commitment to new ways of both thinking and living to achieve this lasting life transformation. Let me just discuss some important aspects for hope and healing.

Healing Takes Time

Let me share a couple simple but key points to remember about depression recovery. First of all, healing takes time, so be patient. You aren’t happy one day then profoundly depressed the next. It takes time to get where you are with depression, and it isn’t going to disappear overnight. Secondly, the phrase “time heals all wounds” does not apply to recovery from depression. In fact, if left untreated, depression worsens as you continue to foster negative thinking patterns that spiral and have sad consequences. In other words, healing from depression is not a passive occurrence of just waiting it out, but rather a series of intentional changes you make that are designed to promote recovery.

Feelings Are Not Reality

Often when I wake up, I feel like I can’t get out of bed. Sometimes in an argument, I feel powerless. Occasionally, when something unexpected happens, I feel overwhelmed. These feelings seem so strong and influential, but feelings are not reality. Our feelings are just our warning system letting us know that we need to pay closer attention to an actual or potential problem.

Going back to the examples, I can get out of bed, I have powers to say no, share my position in an argument, or take a timeout, and I have many options to think through, pray about, and seek God’s wisdom and peace in any adverse situation. Doom and gloom colored glasses are depression’s main weapon of deceit imprisoning our mind to stay stuck and not understand and claim God’s truth and peace. The truth will set you free, so believe God’s truth and not what your feelings are trying to convince you of.

Phases of Depression Healing

Depression recovery generally occurs in 4 phases:

Phase 1: Initially, recovery from depression is just symptom relief, when you will start to feel a little less down, less tearful, a little more energetic, appetite and sleep normalize, and you are more capable of returning to your normal routine.

Phase 2: As your recovery continues, thinking becomes clearer, more optimistic and realistic. Control of your thoughts and that veil of doom and gloom is steadily lifted.

Phase 3: A new way of feeling is the next change you will notice, when all your hard work and actions start paying off. You will begin to be hopeful, seeing there is life after depression, and it will begin to show in your everyday life and relationships.

Phase 4: Finally, you will experience a new way of living. Once you’ve addressed the symptoms, corrected the negative thoughts, healed some past wounds, forgiven yourself or others, and begun to feel better, you are well on your way to a transformed life. This new life and the hope it brings will be what keep you healthy and symptom-free in the future.

Healing of the Mind, Body, and Spirit Leads to Lasting Results

So how does healing from depression happen? In order for healing to occur, the three spheres of our being, our existence, must be addressed: body, mind, and spirit.

Body. The physical aspect of recovery can be managed with medication, nutrition, exercise, proper sleep, and healthy choices. While exercise and nutrition can go a long way toward regulating the body and brain’s functions, it is often necessary to rely on medication to manage the acute and debilitating symptoms of depression. Don’t be afraid to use medications, if recommended by your doctor, because they are often the first step in regulating the chemical make-up of the body and brain. Sometimes medications can be used for a short period while the person is recovering, and then can be discontinued. Be sure to talk to your doctor about your long-term treatment plan and don’t stop taking any medication without discussing with your doctor.

Mind. The mind heals and grows new circuitry slowly over time with the right counseling and treatment to teach new thinking and decision-making patterns. If you are seeing a professional counselor to help with depression, you will be taught skills to strengthen your mind’s ability to process past experiences and information correctly to better manage your present. You will develop skills needed to retrain the mind to perceive events more accurately and manage your feelings to make healthier decisions.

One thing you will learn in recovery is it’s not about what happened or happens to you, it’s what you decide based on what happens. Every time adversity strikes or hurtful events occur, you are faced with the decision to be either a pessimist or a realist of seeing life through God’s lenses (take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ). Learning how to see the situation as a realist takes time and practice, requiring you to see the big picture, God’s view, not just the “me” picture.

Spirit. Finally, the spiritual sphere of the individual is vital, but the most often overlooked sphere. Christian treatment is beneficial because it addresses the big questions: Why am I here? What is my worth? Who determines my value? Where am I going? Why do painful things happen to me? What is the right way to respond to this situation? The certainty, hope, and life management strategies for life God provides in the Bible are valuable foundational pieces of your bigger recovery and healing picture.
<h2id=”christian”>Christian Treatment Promotes True Healing

When looking for treatment for depression, don’t be afraid to seek out a professional coach/therapist who understands both psychology and the Bible. This is the best way to find healing for your entire being – mind, body, and spirit. It is important to read the Bible daily, learn who God really is, and take to heart His promises. In the Bible you will learn God loves you, God forgives all your mistakes, and God wants you to live an abundant life for Him now and with Him eternally in heaven.

If you are working on recovery from depression, try to enjoy the journey. God promises not to give us more than we can handle, and you will be amazed at the awesome things God can do in your life if you start yielding to His wisdom and thinking pattern.

Take the next step in healing by accessing professional expertise to guide you out of the prison of depression, despair, hopelessness, and fear, and into the sanctuary of God’s truth, healing, freedom, and peace. Call our Lighthouse Helpline at 844-LifeChange (543-3242) and we will find the best option to help you get back on track to living the life God designed for you.