Thursday, March 26, 2015

Depression...Male AND Female

This interesting article gives the symptomatic clues of depression in males. My guess is that not all of this is exclusive to males.

A few nights ago during studio coverage of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, Charles Barkley memorably said (I'm paraphrasing), "Anyone who has a perfect bracket right now is a lying dog."

Likewise, anyone who says they've never endured what Winston Churchill called "the black dog," depression in any of its forms, is a lying dog in denying their black dogs.

There are differences, of course, between being sad or feeling blue, on the one hand, and being depressed, on the other. The latter is more severe and often, physiologically rooted. Or at least, physiologically abetted.

It's not a black mark on one's character to suffer from the black dog. Nor is it a sign of weakness. Despair is a sin chosen by the self-absorbed; it willfully refuses happiness or hope. But depression in its varied forms, is usually something that happens to us. It comes to us unbidden, like chicken pox or the flu or cancer.

Treatments depend on the severity and longevity of depressive feelings.

But it seems to me that two things are essential in dealing with all the manifestations of depression.

First, you have to acknowledge that you're sad. Don't buy your own schtick, designed, often for very good reason, to keep other people out of your "stuff." At least acknowledge to yourself that you're depressed. To survive from day to day, you may have to wear masks of affability and good humor. But it's essential that at least, to ourselves and, more importantly, to God, we admit that behind the mask is someone wrestling with sadness.

Second, lean on God. Read His Word. Read devotional material from reliable Christian authors. And, by all means, pray. God is the life-giver. He can fill us with new life when even our taste for life is gone.

If you suspect you or people who care about you suspect that you're clinically depressed, then you absolutely should see your GP as a first step toward healing.

But, these first two steps--honest acknowledgment and prayer--will often be what we need to move on with our lives.

They won't necessarily take away our melancholy, because melancholy often is rooted in experiences--the loss of a love, a defeat to our dreams, the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, the end of a friendship. There are some losses from which we never recover. The hurt is too deep. The loss is too overwhelming. And to "get over" the losses of other people from our lives fully, would be deeply disrespectful of them and of the love we shared.

But we have responsibilities to God, to our families, to those to whom we have made promises, to those for whom we care and who care for us, and to the futures in which God may have our participation planned, to forge ahead, to plod on. (You never know what God has up His gracious sleeve, by the way.)

Honesty with God and with ourselves. Reliance on and trust in the God made plain to us in Christ. This is how we go on. This is how we start to endure even when the black dog plagues us.

No comments: