Sunday, October 30, 2005

How I Overcame Depression

Nine years ago I was diagnosed by a psychologist with post traumatic stress disorder stemming from serious personal conflicts while working in Africa for five years. Later, another psychologist said I had "aggravated depression." For three and a half years I endured the intense, debilitating mental anguish that is depression. It was worse than any physical suffering I had, including malaria, hepatitis, and appendicitis.

Thank my Creator that He showed me a way out of the suffering and I have been depression-free for over six years. Although it was recommended by my first counselor, I took no drugs or medication. I'm here to say there is a way out from this common condition without being dependent on drugs. Our society is drug-crazy with doctors and psychologists prescribing a drug at the drop of a hat. I've met so many people who are on anti-depressants but are not dealing with the root issues of their depression. Drugs can be a good temporary solution to help people cope with the mental pain. (I probably should have taken something at the most intense time of my condition to minimize the anxiety and intense stress). But I believe they should be a short-term solution (with some exceptions to conditions that are truly caused by chemical imbalance) to get one over a hump while they tackle the root causes.

How did I finally overcome the funk? It's a long story but the short answer is through cognitive therapy. My second psychologist was brilliant in helping me uncover some childhood issues that had made me susceptble to depression all along. He gave me tools to combat negative thinking. I also did my own study and discovered a key book that helps one overcome distorted thinking (click on title for link). We feel what we think and if we are barraged by negative, self-criticizing thoughts (sometimes not even noticed), then we will inevitbly become depressed. The way out is knowing the lies we think and combating them with rational responses and the truth. In my opinion, the this needs to include the truth about our Creator's unconditional love and acceptance.