Depression.

Great opening line, don’t you think? Pulls you right in. Makes you want to keep reading.

No?

In the last week alone, I’ve talked with three different women about this topic. And I must say that I LOVE talking about it.

Weird, right?!

Honestly, I would be so happy if talking about depression became as much of my vocabulary as talking about the weather. Truthfully.

I would love to help loosen the power this scary word has over us. We seem to fear the word almost as much as we fear the illness it describes.

Why?

Depression carries so many layers of implied meaning.

When you hear the word, what comes to your mind?

Someone groaning and hanging her head, afraid to make eye contact? Someone who sits at home on the sofa all day and watches TV? Someone without the gumption to pull herself up by her bootstraps?

Ever heard this definition of depression? “Depression is a serious medical illness that involves the brain” (from MentalHealth.gov).

Notice the word illness in that definition.

So, if depression classifies as an illness, like cancer or diabetes or lymphoma, why do we fear talking about it? We talk about other illnesses, awkwardly sometimes, but we do talk.

May I challenge to us all to learn more about depression and learn to talk about it with each other? Let’s work together to take away some of the negative spin associated with the word.

Let me leave you with a couple of resources and a challenge.

First, a clearer definition of depression from MentalHealth.gov:

Depression is more than just a feeling of being “down in the dumps” or “blue” for a few days. If you are one of the more than 20 million people in the United States who have depression, the feelings do not go away. They persist and interfere with your everyday life.

Symptoms can include

Sadness
Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
Change in weight
Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
Energy loss
Feelings of worthlessness
Thoughts of death or suicide
Depression is a disorder of the brain. There are a variety of causes, including genetic, environmental, psychological, and biochemical factors.

Second, NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) of DuPage County provides an anonymous, online screening that could help you find out in just a few minutes if you struggle with depression and could benefit from professional consultation. http://screening.mentalhealthscreening.org/NAMI

The website also contains tons of resources, including this great video about helping a friend you think might struggle with depression: http://screening.mentalhealthscreening.org/NAMI/resources/article/depression/psychotherapy-friends-helping-friends-episode-3

Third, for those of us who love God and seek to live for him, I urge you to read this book, which I just started: Looking up from the Stubborn Darkness by Edward T. Welch. Also, check out this article titled, “It Can’t Be Depression … I’m a Christian” by Mark Mounts: https://www.gci.org/CO/depression

Don’t you wonder what might have happened or not happened if the pilot of Germanwings Flight 9525 had talked honestly with friends and family members about his depression?

So, the challenge for this month: Find a way to use the word depression in a non-threatening conversation.

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