Health writer Wendy Margolese of Ontario, Canada, writing in SIMCOE News, says, “I am not saying that nature isn’t a wonderful experience, but I’m circumspect of health solutions that end up making me dependent on a person, a place or a potion.”
She offers a way to go further/higher and includes a wonderful example in which a woman used that approach and found freedom from Postpartum depression.
If you’re struggling with depression, you might find these ideas helpful.
My colleague Valerie Minard, writing in Collingswood Patch in New Jersey, shared some helpful ideas when dealing with suicidal thoughts.
“But what about the teens who suffer in silence or are not ready to turn to a teen suicide prevention group or trusted adult? I can’t answer for others but in my case, I found my connection to the Divine was a life saver during a time when I felt there was no one in whom to confide.”
“The ideas that saved me went along these lines…”
“These negative thoughts are not your thoughts. They are lies about your worth and purpose for existing, and you don’t need to listen to them. The ideas God gives you are good. Destructive thoughts are not good. The Bible says, “‘For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the LORD. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope.’””
There’s a reason they’re called man’s best friend.
If you’ve ever had a dog, then you already know something about dogs’ unconditional love. This warrants considering more deeply the divine source and nature of love and its healing power.
Health blogger Linda Ross in Connecticut shares a touching account on LinkedIn of a dog’s unconditional love reaching a soldier suffering with PTSD. It gives a glimpse into unconditional love’s ability to reach below the surface and melt away “difficult memories”. We might also consider how we all have a “divine friendship” with divine Love.
Here are three articles in the news recently with Christmas in mind that focus on the intersection of spirituality and health.
In the first article, Scrooge’s life lessons are adapted to health, the second includes a personal account of gaining freedom from depression, and the third has a surprise ending that will make you smile.
Excerpt: “An infestation of bah-humbug thinking pesters all of us from time to time. Helplessness, hopelessness, poverty, despair, and a host of pesky doubts can swarm us and even compromise our health. It turns out generosity can snap us out of the humbug funk and improve our well-being.”
He cites a book entitled, “The Heart of Religion: Spiritual empowerment, benevolence, and the experience of God’s love”. It reports: over 80% of respondents acknowledge they “experience God’s love as the greatest power in the universe.”
Chew quotes Dr. Kenneth Porter, who, in his article ‘Healing Holiday Blues,’ states that, “the healing of depression, like the healing of any emotional or physical disturbance, occurs best on four levels of our being–mind, heart, body, and spirit.” She relates a personal experience: “About 10 years ago, I experienced a healing of depression that did include all four of these levels. … We made some changes … more important was the time I spent in prayer.”
By Ingrid Peschke, in The MetroWest Daily News (Massachusetts)
Peschke shares how her family set aside their usual Christmas Eve traditions one year to accept an invitation from friends, and experienced more than one surprise. See how many gifts you can count in this one.
A guest post written by John D. Clague, media and legislative spokesperson for Christian Science in Oregon.
I have a friend who suffers from SAD — seasonal affective disorder. The long periods of clouds and rain depress her so much that she feels she can no longer live in the northwest. She and her husband are actively looking to work and live in a sunny climate.
Moments of temporarily feeling blue are not uncommon for most people at some point in their life. Chronic depression, however, goes far beyond temporary bouts to a persistent state of sadness without a cause or as a response to an event beyond what would be considered normal.
But feelings of sadness aren’t all that’s at stake.
The CDC also reports that
“Depression is a mental illness that can be costly and debilitating to sufferers. Depression can adversely affect the course and outcome of common chronic conditions, such as arthritis, asthma, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Depression also can result in increased work absenteeism, short-term disability, and decreased productivity.”
Left untreated this relationship between depression and other chronic illnesses can have serious consequences.
Even though a common treatment is to prescribe antidepressant medications, what’s interesting is that research is showing that except for the most severe cases, the active ingredients in the pills isn’t what makes the patient feel better. Rather, it’s the placebo effect, a belief that the treatment will help, which improves their outlook.
Researchers such as Irving Kirsch, Associate Director of the Placebo Studies Program at the Harvard Medical School, are finding that a key reason placebos work is that the recipient’s relationship with the person caring for them, or administering the drug, is therapeutic in and of itself. It doesn’t matter which drug they are given, whether a placebo or a bona fide antidepressant. Randomized clinical trials studying placebos are showing this to be true.
If antidepressants work through the placebo effect, and therapeutic relationships are a key factor in the effectiveness of placebos, then perhaps there are other relationships that can effectively treat depression without the ritual of pill-taking.
Carmen is a nurse practitioner who found herself in a deep depressive mental state after her son enlisted in the Army and was deployed to Iraq. She describes her journey on her website Naturally-Holistic.net. She eventually worked her way out of the depression, and without apology she claims that: “No matter how you look at it, there is a relationship between depression and spirituality.”
She makes four important points about how she emerged from her depression that have a direct connection to my practice of spirituality. Two of them are making the choice to be happy, and finding gratitude in every situation. The other two points, however, center on relationships.
She tells us to nurture important relationships, especially with God and to find “…something to love about every situation-even when it was really hard. Choose Love EVERY time.”
Not surprisingly, Carmen’s experience is backed up by research.
“Studies have shown that religious people are less likely to become depressed and anxious than their nonreligious counterparts. Frequent churchgoing was shown to be associated with lower levels of anxiety and depression
Whether people are religious in the sense of being church-goers or simply individuals who embrace a spiritual relationship with a higher power, this premise seems to hold up. For example:
“…people who practiced prayer or meditation to reduce moderate to severe anxiety showed marked improvement after three months”
Research is important in learning what’s effective in treating depression. But personal experience is just as important in understanding these dynamics as I found with Carmen’s story.
“… I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.”
Depression is very real and serious for those who suffer from this condition. It’s encouraging to know that there are options that don’t carry negative side effects, and which aren’t based on the trickery behind placebos.
Perhaps nurturing a relationship, spiritually, with a higher Being is the therapy that will lift the fog and let the light shine.
Mental health can be improved and maintained by treating the whole person and by helping the patient feel connected with – and loved by – others and the divine.
Treating the whole person
In 2007 Malkia Newman was appointed to the board of the Oakland County Community Mental Health Authority and she now chairs this board. Speaking at last month’s Public Services Committee meeting, she shared her insights from being the only person ever to be treated by the program and, then, to become its board chair. “Having received the treatment, having received the education, because education and treatment go hand in hand – you can’t just throw medicine at a problem, you have to treat the whole person.”
When thought meets exercise, exercise is more beneficial.
“A particular mind-set or belief about one’s body or health may lead to improvements in disease symptoms as well as changes in appetite, brain chemicals and even vision, several recent studies have found, highlighting how fundamentally the mind and body are connected” writes Shirley S. Wang in an article in the Wall Street Journal today.
A 1999 study conducted by James A. Blumenthal, PhD at the Duke University Medical Center found that older patients with major depression experienced therapeutic benefits from an exercise program equal to what others received from antidepressant medication.
Another holiday season is upon us. It’s supposed to be a joyous and festive time. But unfortunately for many, this season may come with feelings of loneliness or depression. There is, however, a spiritual solution for this.
This got me to thinking of how beneficial it would be to have a “mini” spiritual retreat of sorts each day – a time to be calm and to think – to think of something good in our lives, to feel love for family and friends, to look beyond ourselves, focus on the connections we do have and to kindly consider others – a time to be quiet and to listen for inspiration.