In 2016, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) determined that 44.7 million adults in the U.S. suffer from mental illness—that’s nearly one in five adults. Only 19.2 million received treatment. Many mental illnesses have their seat in depression and anxiety, and because of that, we want to educate you on depression and anxiety and what can be done about them.
In the next 10 weeks, we are going to give our listeners a resource. We are going to jam-pack you with coping skills. If you are suffering from depression and/or anxiety, these suggestions will offer a wealth of ideas of how to cope.
Every day we are faced with clients who do not know where to start. They come for guidance and many times they struggle with coming up with even one goal to accomplish.
More often than not, they are experiencing some depression and or anxiety. They are so overwhelmed; they have just about given up on how to begin. That’s why they come to us and that is why we have developed this new podcast series “100 Things to do When You Have Depression & Anxiety.”
Let’s Take a Look at Discouragement
There’s an old story that I think you may relate to. The devil held an auction one day. He was selling his tools from his toolbox. Pride, laziness, arrogance, hate, envy, and jealousy—they all had high price tags.
There was one tool, however, that was marked “Not For Sale.” It was worn down, and looked rough. Someone asked, “Why isn’t this tool for sale? It must not be worth much. It looks like it’s been used a lot.”
The devil smiled and whispered, “That tool is discouragement! It’s priceless! I’m not parting with it. It is my most used tool. When I use it, I pry open a heart, get inside and do anything I want!”
Discouragement is an entry point for Satan. Discouragement can easily lead to feeling defeated, and as Christians, this is exactly what Satan wants. He wants us to forget what God has done for us.
He wants us to forget Christ’s death on the cross and victory over sin and death, because what else can Satan do? If we have accepted Jesus as our Savior, then Satan cannot claim our soul, but he can give us a feeling of defeat and a sense of displeasure in this life.
Let’s Look At the Bible
In the Bible, numerous people were depressed. Job was depressed for the whole book of Job after everything was taken from him. Jeremiah was so depressed for the people of Israel that he wrote Lamentations.
Jeremiah was very discouraged that his friends had left him and that he had many enemies, but no friends. After being beaten publicly, Jeremiah was so discouraged that in Jeremiah 20 verse 14 he says, “Cursed be the day I was born! May the day my mother bore me not be blessed!” (NIV)
Elijah wins the battle with the Baal prophets on Mount Horeb. He has them all slaughtered. But afterwards, he becomes discouraged. Queen Jezebel makes death threats toward him. Elijah flees alone.
We pick up the story in Kings 19 verse 4, “while he himself went a day’s journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough Lord,’ he said. ‘Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.’” (NIV)
Both Jeremiah and Elijah had become suicidal. They did not want to live any longer.
David, the Articulate One
David had many ups and downs. He slayed Goliath and was chosen by Samuel, but King Saul tried to kill him while he was in his service. He was king and defeated many enemies, but he sinned with Bathsheeba, killed her husband, and God confronted him through the prophet Nathan. His child did not live.
In Psalms, David expresses how he felt at different times. David talks not only about his feelings, but how it affected his body. We hear symptoms of anxiety and depression.
In Psalm 32 verses 3-4, David talks about the guilt he feels: “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of the summer.” (NIV) Note that if David didn’t talk about it, his bones ached.
In Psalm 38 verse 3, David again talks about his symptoms, “Because of your wrath there is no health in body; my bones have no soundness because of my sin.” (NIV) David is describing depression.
In Psalm 38 verses 10-12, David gives even more insight into what is happening to him. “My heart pounds, my strength fails me; even the light has gone from my eyes. My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds; my neighbors stay far away. Those who seek my life set their traps, those who would harm me talk of my ruin; all day long they plot deception.” (NIV)
David is expressing how discouraged he is. His life is threatened. His friends are not there. He is alone and has anxiety (“my heart pounds”). The anxiety has taken all his strength (“my strength fails me”). He is depressed.
Know the Signs of Depression
The phrase, “I’m depressed” has become as commonplace as “I’m sad.” But sadness is not necessarily a sign of clinical depression. The diagnosis of “Major Depressive Disorder” requires several features that last two weeks or more. These include:
- Feeling hopeless, sad, or numb.
- Loss of interest in activities. (These include activities you once enjoyed.)
- Significant change in weight (lost or gained) with change in appetite.
- Sleeping too much or too little.
- Psychomotor retardation or psychomotor agitation (Moving slowly OR fidgety/purposeless movements such as pacing).
- Low energy
- Feeling worthless and/or excessively guilty (low self-esteem)
- Difficulty concentrating and/or making decisions
- Thoughts of death (without a suicide plan or with a plan for suicide)
- Struggling to function at work or at home
Note how Jeremiah, Elijah, and David mention some of these symptoms. All of them had feelings of hopelessness, loss of interest in activities (and so they were alone), low energy, excessive guilt, and thoughts of death.
Another depression condition is called dysthymia. Unlike a Major Depressive Episode that lasts a few weeks, dysthymia lasts years. It is a low-level depression, marked by symptoms of hopelessness, low self-esteem, low appetite, low energy, difficulty concentrating and sleep changes.
Both Major Depression and dysthymia can be treated with medications and talk therapy. If you feel that you are experiencing depression, a doctor or therapist can diagnose and treat you.
What are the Signs of Anxiety?
- Rapid heart rate.
- Feelings of dread.
- Rapid breathing.
- Twitching muscles.
- Difficulty concentrating on things other than the fear you are focused on.
Note how David mentions the rapid heart rate and feelings of dread. David was anxious, and it leads to depression. His body was stuck in the flight/fight mode too long, and it was worn out.
When anxiety persists for too long, then we become very tired. The energy is sapped from our bodies. We have negative thoughts and tired bodies. Depression sets in. (Read more about anxiety symptoms.)
When these symptoms interfere with your ability to function at home or at work, it is time to talk to a therapist and/or doctor. There are many different types of anxiety disorders. A therapist can determine what type you are suffering from. (Learn more about anxiety attacks and panic attacks.)
Could I Be Suffering from Depression or Anxiety?
Oftentimes people go to their doctor when they do not feel physically well. Because mental health has been stigmatized so much, many people would rather be treated by a doctor than consider that they have depression and/or anxiety and seek the help of a therapist.
101 Things to do When You Have Depression & Anxiety
In the next few weeks, Vincent and Laura will be covering different activities that you can do to reclaim vitality in your life. These coping activities will help you connect with the wonderful things God has created for us to pleasure in. You will open your eyes to new sights, hear new things, and experience new accomplishments.
There’s no way that you cannot do one out of one hundred things on this list. It is impossible. With that in mind we encourage you to pick one! You’ll probably want to do more!