The suicidal death of Robin Williams has raised much discussion on the topic of depression. Reports indicate that the Oscar-winning actor and comedian was not only struggling with depression but for years had been dealing with bouts of substance abuse. Williams, himself, announced just last month that he was returning to a 12-step program. Then came the latest news that, according to his wife, he was also showing early signs of Parkinson’s Disease which is said to be another factor leading to depression.
In view of this sad news, we can understand the importance of seeking the proper treatment for depression. The objective is to get proper treatment without letting it lead to destructive behavior as in the case of Robin Williams.
But to deal with it constructively, one must understand that depression strikes many persons on many different levels: Bi-Polar Disorder, Clinical, Dysthymia, Melancholic, Mixed Anxiety-Depressive, and Post-Partum Depression, just to name a few. Statistics show that persons of all backgrounds and ages suffer from this illness. For example,
- Approximately 18.8 million American adults, or about 9.5 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year, have a depressive disorder
- Depression affects all people regardless of age, geographic location, demographic or social position.
- Depressive disorders are appearing earlier in life with the average age of onset 50 years ago being 29 whereas recent statistics indicate it at just 14.5yrs in today’s society.
- Nearly twice as many women (12.0 percent) as men (6.6 percent) are affected by a depressive disorder each year. These figures translate to 12.4 million women and 6.4 million men in the U.S.
- Women between the ages of 25-44 are most often affected by depression with a major cause of depression in women being the inability to express or handle anger.
- Depressive disorders often co-occur with anxiety disorders and substance abuse.
- A recent study sponsored by the World Health Organization and the World Bank found unipolar major depression to be the leading cause of disability in the United States.
Cited in www.depressionperception.com.
After examining this information, we can conclude that depression is a huge problem plaguing us today. And it’s a problem we cannot just wish away or ignore. It’s a reality.
The story goes that former NBA center and Coach Johnny Kerr said his biggest test as coach came when he coached the expansion Chicago Bulls and his biggest player was 6-8 Erwin Mueller. Kerr recalls,
We had lost seven in a row, and I decided to give a psychological pep talk before a game with the Celtics. I told Bob Boozer to go out and pretend he was the best scorer in basketball. I told Jerry Sloan to pretend he was the best defensive guard. I told Guy Rodgers to pretend he could run an offense better than any other guard, and I told Mueller to pretend he was the best rebounding, shot-blocking, scoring center in the game. We lost the game by 17. I was pacing around the locker room afterward trying to figure out what to say when Mueller walked up, put his arm around me and said, “Don’t worry about it, Coach. Just pretend we won.”
No, it won’t help to pretend we’re not depressed. But we CAN deal with it constructively if we face it with the right attitude while undergoing treatment for it. Indeed, there are many constructive ways to treat this disorder from medication to psychotherapy to exercise. But regardless the treatment, a key factor throughout the process is to have a positive attitude.
Dr. Robin L. Brey wrote an article titled, “Attitude is Everything: Treating depression helps ease the burden of neurologic symptoms.” She says,
“Attitude is everything. Pick a good one.” A friend recently shared this with me. It was her mother’s favorite saying and good advice for almost any situation. But it’s hard to have a good attitude when you’re not feeling well. It’s nearly impossible if you are depressed.
Her point that it’s nearly impossible to have a good attitude when you are depressed makes it all the more important to seek the help of God’s Word. In fact, the scriptures provide therapeutic treatment for depression by prescribing the proper attitude when applied. I call it, “The Good News Attitude.”
Christians can understand that if one’s attitude is not focused with a positive frame of mind, then one is simply planning for more misery. There was a friendly waitress who couldn’t get a smile out of a certain customer. The woman was dour, depressed, and dejected all through the dinner. And the food was delicious! As the woman paid her bill and was leaving, the waitress said, “Have a nice day!” And the woman responded snappishly, “I’m sorry, but I’ve made other plans!”
It helps to make the right plans by having the right attitude even though it seems almost impossible when you are depressed.
Here are some positive things you can do for treating depression with The Good News Attitude:
- You must convince yourself that you have access to a higher power than your own human power when facing any difficulty that seems insurmountable: 1 John 44 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. (New International Version, NIV)
- Through Christ, God has given you his Power (Holy Spirit) which dwells in you to deal with what is depressing you: Romans 811But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. (New American Standard Bible, NASB)
- Condition your mind to believe that with God, all things are possible: Matthew 1926 And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (NASB)
- You can have confidence that Christ gives you the ability to deal with what is bothering you. Claim this verse over and over again: Philippians 413 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (New King James Version, NKJV)
- There is help for you are not alone. Jesus said, (Matthew 2820 ) …and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (NASB)
- Cast your depression on the Lord since he cares for you: 1 Peter 57 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. (New Living Translation, NLT)
- Your struggles are no different than anyone else’s. God will not give you more than you can handle, but will provide the right escape: 1 Cor. 1013The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. (NLT)
- Do not give up hope: Isaiah 4031 But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (NIV)
Good News to You,