Friday, November 10, 2006

The Experience of Depression

In order to help someone, or yourself, with dealing with depression the experience itself needs to be understood. This is the first step. Makes sense, when someone is dealing with a physical, medical problem, isn't the first step to listen and learn and find out what the person is going through.

When you think about it, depression is a big word. What I mean is that is covers a lot of ground and like I said yesterday, what depression is all about can mean different things to different people. "Don't assume that you understand what someone means by depression. Don't fill the meaning from your own experiences, which may or may not be similar.", Welch, Blame It On The Brain, page 117.

When a depressed person is really listened to, heard for what they alone are experiencing, there will be pain, fear, hopeless, dread, terror, silent screams, and emptiness - all these at a level that threatens to destroy. Physically, the senses are dulled as well. Sounds are muted, colors seem less vibrant. Technically, the DSM-IV defines depression with a little less "feeling" I think. Although helpful for pointing out some symptoms that may not be expressed, the DSM-IV is too clinical and less personal. The DSM-IV definition of depression makes it easier to view depression as a strictly medical condition.

Depression, to be fully understood, needs to be observed and listened to. The experience ranges from one extreme of the desire to die to emotional numbness and feeling like a living death. Sometimes a depressed person experiences both extremes at the same time. What is universal though in all descriptions is "pain", in that it is the most common explanation of what a depressed is going through. It is this feeling of "pain" that bridges the gap between spiritual and physical experiences of depression. The "pain" of depression manifests itself in physical symptoms but mostly it originates on the spiritual side of things. Most secular treatments for depression try to eliminate the physical symptoms and do nothing to heal the spiritual issues.

There has to be then a process to go through so that physical symptoms are distinguished from spiritual symptoms and then both need to be dealt with accordingly. If physical problems are confused with spiritual then the depressed person will be held morally responsible for something physical. Also, if spiritual symptoms are confused with physical then sin could be excused and seen as insignificant, worse yet, this could lead to hopelessness for spiritual growth when someone has a psychiatric diagnosis. The spiritual problems will be easier to attack and seek healing for because they always deal with the heart. The physical symptoms are more difficult to pinpoint but the process has become a bit more manageable.

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