Money and False Security

“In God We Trust” has been engraved on our coins since 1864. Somewhere in the intervening years, however, it seems we’ve shifted from trust in God to trust in the coin itself. This isn’t a recent phenomenon; it’s been happening for a long time. King Solomon, in his book of wisdom known as Proverbs, puts it this way: “The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it an unscalable wall” (Prov. 18:11).

There are many people today for whom wealth is their unscalable wall. They truly believe if they acquire enough of it, build up a high enough wall of it, the cares and concerns of the world will not be able to climb over. The problem, of course, lies in the fact that cares and concerns have very creative ways of mounting siege ramps against the walls of wealth and breach even the highest parapets. Insecurities also find ways to tunnel under the strongest edifices.

Money, quite simply, is not a secure enough thing to put your trust in. Again, from Proverbs: “Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle” (23:4-5). Money is a fluid, dynamic entity, and its worth is based upon factors out of the control of most people. A person’s wealth can be made and lost within a single year. How many people have won millions of dollars on a lottery one year, only to wind up losing it all within a short span of time? How many people put their trust in the wealth they committed to Bernie Madoff, only to lose every cent in his billion-dollar Ponzi scheme? Money is not an appropriate place to look for security.

Money is not permanent because it can be lost in the blink of an eye (or in the crash of the stock market, or in the devaluation of currency, or through theft of malfeasance or cooked books). It is not permanent in the here and now, and it’s absolutely irrelevant in the hereafter. Money may get you some traction when you’re alive, but it is useless to you when you’re dead: “Do not be overawed when a man grows rich, when the splendor of his house increases; for he will take nothing with him when he dies, his splendor will not descend with him” (Ps. 49: 16-17). In cruder, present-day language: The hearse doesn’t come with a trailer.

Money promises to provide security, but it often creates the opposite: “A man’s riches may ransom his life, but a poor man hears no threat” (Prov. 13:8). The more stock you set in the things you have, including money and the things money can buy, the greater the threat of losing it all. Those who have much have much to lose. Those with little, sleep under a lesser threat of loss and can feel more secure.

Money can be a source of security, but it can also be a source of heartburn: “The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether he eats little or much, but the abundance of a rich man permits him no sleep” (Eccl. 5:12). If you put all your security eggs in the money basket, then you must perpetually worry about eggs breaking and losing broth.

 Dr. Gregory Jantz is the founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE  and author of 35 books. Pioneering whole-person care nearly 30 years ago, Dr. Jantz has dedicated his life’s work to creating possibilities for others, and helping people change their lives for good. The Center • A Place of HOPE, located on the Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, creates individualized programs to treat behavioral and mental health issues, including eating disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety, and others.

 

Hormonal Causes of Depression

Depression can be caused by a variety of different issues including genetics, a traumatic event, PTSD, substance abuse, and other various physical imbalances. One common cause for depression can be hormonal imbalance. People of all ages experience changing hormonal levels. Some of these shifts are normal, and others can cause imbalances and other symptoms such as depression. Here are some of the major hormonal causes for depression that can happen during a person’s life.

Puberty. The onset of puberty in both girls and boys can result in depression. Boys may actually experience decreased depression. Girls may experience increased depression as puberty progresses. Pubertal depression can be due to physiological, hormonal, and cultural changes experienced during early adolescence. Simply put, puberty is a time of difficult transition, both physically and emotionally. The combination of societal and physical factors is potent and can be overwhelming to young people fighting to emerge from childhood into adulthood.

Postpartum Depression. This is also known as “the baby blues.” Many new mothers experience mild depression after the birth of a child. Symptoms usually fade within a week. While the cause has not ben definitely linked, a drop of estrogen and progesterone levels five days after delivery may bring on feelings of depression. In a very small number of women, postpartum psychosis can result, causing severe depression and hallucinations. Studies indicate that if you have a history of depression prior to pregnancy, you are at a higher risk for developing postpartum depression.

Premenstrual Syndrome. This syndrome is increasingly linked to the depressive symptoms of despondent moods, irritability, exhaustion, and bouts of crying. Research is being done on the link between depression in PMS and lowered levels of melatonin and serotonin. Because of the link between PMS and depression, if you are a woman, you will want to beware of how your monthly cycle coincides with your feelings of depression.

Menopausal Phases. During menopause in women, the body produces less estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone — all vital hormones. Progesterone and testosterone production can decrease at a faster rate than estrogen, upsetting the proper balance, causing estrogen dominance. With this imbalance, mood changes can occur and depression may result. These hormonal fluctuations can also affect the operation of the thyroid gland, causing hypothyroidism.

Low Testosterone. During the natural aging process in men, testosterone production is decreased. Higher testosterone levels are known to produce vitality, lean muscle mass, lower body fat, and enhanced sexual performance. The lowering or loss of these functions can produce depression in men as they age. This influences the physical as well as psychological changes in men. One study found a significant link between low testosterone and depression in older men.

These various hormonal imbalances may be difficult to detect without the help of a professional. If you think someone you know is suffering from hormonal imbalance and subsequent depression, fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak confidentially with a specialist today. The Center • A Place of HOPE was recently ranked as the #1 treatment facility in the country for depression, and our team is standing by to help you and your loved ones.

 

 

When Grief Turns Into Depression

“I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on the earth. Whether I shall ever be better I cannot tell; I awfully forebode I shall not. To remain as I am is impossible; I must die or be better, it appears to me.” – President Abraham Lincoln

These words of President Lincoln illustrate the profound sadness that we can experience over the course of a lifetime. Losing a loved one or dealing with a traumatic situation can understandably cause such feelings of sadness and despondency. But when does this grief settle into depression? And how can a person distinguish between the two?

Grief by itself is not a “disorder”; it is a human experience caused by a traumatic experience of loss of a loved one. While speaking with a therapist or counselor may help a person work through these emotions, grief does not require treatment. Common symptoms of grief include sadness, tearfulness, sleep disturbance, decreased socialization, and decreased appetite.

During the first few weeks following the grief-inducing event, it may be hard to distinguish between grief and depression from observations alone. However, overtime grief may evolve into clinical depression.

Clinicians often use the following guidelines to differentiate between non-clinical depression (general feelings of sadness that can be caused by grief) and clinical depression.

  • Severity (extreme feelings of hopelessness including suicidal thoughts)
  • Duration (most of the day, nearly every day, for at least 2 weeks)
  • Pathology (clinically significant distress or impairment on a person’s daily function)

Because they are distinct conditions, grief and clinical depression can occur together, further confusing the differentiation between the two. Most importantly, however, there is clinical evidence that concurrent depression may delay or impair the resolution of grief. This means that depression can interfere with a person’s natural ability to overcome grief, and continue to perpetuate the cycle.

It is therefore imperative for individuals struggling with depression caused by grief to seek professional help.

If you or someone you love is struggling with depression caused by grief, The Center • A Place of HOPE can help. In addition to physical, mental, and emotional treatment of depression, The Center • A Place of HOPE offers Christian support to address the spiritual components and struggles in a person’s life that affect grief and depression. For more information, fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak confidentially with a depression recovery specialist today.

 

Excerpts of this blog were taken from Dr. Gregory Jantz’s book Turing Your Down into Up: A Realistic Plan for Healing from Depression.

Other sources:

Distinguishing Grief, Complicated Grief, and Depression. Medscape. Dec 26, 2014.

Pies, R. (2011). The Two Worlds of Grief and Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 23, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2011/02/23/the-two-worlds-of-grief-and-depression/

 

 

 

 

Five Signs Hidden Anger is Causing Your Depression

Depression can be caused by a many number of things. Perhaps it is due to a specific, traumatic event like losing a loved one to suicide. It may be caused by prolonged emotional or spiritual abuse. It could be caused by an addiction to technology or a chemical imbalance.

Another common cause of depression is anger—anger that you may not even recognize you have. We call this “hidden anger” or anger that you’ve suppressed from your conscious acknowledgement. You may be angry at a family member that continues to exert undue control over your life, angry with God for an unavoidable health problem, or angry at a friend who betrayed you during a time of need. While you may have hidden this anger from view, these feelings of anger and resentment can fester inside us and manifest in unforeseen ways; depression is one such manifestation.

As part of the recovery journey, is it first important to acknowledge, and become aware of, the reason for your depression. Below are some common symptoms of hidden anger that may be negatively affecting your life.

Procrastination: Procrastination in the completion of tasks, especially ones you don’t like or don’t want to do. What do you put off? What is keeping you from completing these tasks? If the tasks are related to past issues of control or connected in some way to people or past trauma, your procrastination may be caused by festering hidden anger.

Sarcasm, cynicism, or flippancy: Within what context, do you typically make sarcastic, cynical, or flippant remarks? Is it only with certain people or only within a certain context? In other words, is your hidden anger tied to a certain person, in terms of what she brings out in you? Or, is it more generally tied to how you feel in specific situations as opposed to whom you are with?

Over controlled monotone speaking voice: This is not only a means of hiding anger, but subsequently any number of other feelings that re not allowed expression. In other words, masking a negative feeling, such as anger, inevitably trains you to mask positive feelings as well, such as surprise, excitement, and joy.

Frequent sighing: You may not even realize you are doing this, so make a note to be mindful of how frequently you sigh, and within what context. Again, is it usually around a certain person, or is it more specific to an activity (i.e. work task), thought (i.e. all you to-dos), or situation (i.e. dealing with a conflict at work or at home).

Smiling while hurting: As with frequent sighing, this may not be something you are particularly aware of. Next time you notice yourself smiling, though, check in with your head and heart. Does your expression match what you’re thinking and feeling inside?

If you notice that you are exhibiting any concerning combination of the above symptoms, it might signal issues related to hidden anger. Our team at The Center • A Place of HOPE specializes in treating anger problems and depression, and we are here to help. The Center • A Place of HOPE has been ranked as the #1 treatment facility for depression in the United States. If you are ready to regain true joy and happiness and release your hidden anger, fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak with a depression recovery specialist today.

 

Overcoming Depression Caused by Busyness

In today’s hectic, action-packed society, we often pride ourselves on our productivity and busyness. We fill each day with work, technology, errands, and activities that leave little room for much else. However, over time it’s possible for your productive and busy days to become unhinged from their original intent.

You might become so entrenched in your hectic routine that the activities begin to lose their meaning, and you feel like you are simply spinning your wheels each day without any true direction. You may begin to feel that your life is not making a difference or that what you are doing and how hard you are working is not moving you forward on the path you were hoping to take. Life seems busy and burdensome, yet without purpose. This outlook can be a major factor in environmental causes of depression.

If you are experiencing this empty feeling of depressed burnout, it may be time for you to reevaluate your routine and focus in life. While there may be a great many things in your daily routine that you cannot change, you may be surprised at how many things you can. One of the keys to overcoming depression is to honestly and realistically evaluate your life and then develop a plan to change those things that are in your control.

You may be reluctant to do this exercise for fear it will make you even more depressed. But the objective of taking stock is not to create an inventory of all the things that are wrong with your life. Rather, taking stock will help to categorize the changeable and unchangeable things in your life to intentionally move forward, out of depression and the doldrums of meaninglessness. Here are some simple steps to help you evaluate your routine.

  1. Reflect on your daily activities. Make a list of all of the things you do each day, leaving space after each item. Begin with the moment you wake up, and write down every event that takes place until you put your head on the pillow each night.
  2. Write down the reasons for engaging in each of these activities. Are they for you or for someone else? Are your reasons for engaging in each activity the same today as they were when you started? Have the reasons changed? Have you?
  3. Next to each reason, write down how this activity makes you feel. Do you look forward to each activity? Do you dread it? Does it bring you joy or anxiety?
  4. Determine if the activities are changeable. What would happen if you stopped doing that activity? Or did it less often? Are you responsible for the activity? Or is someone else?
  5. On a new sheet of paper, write down a list of dreams, goals and activities that bring you joy and make you feel truly fulfilled. Though a bit morbid, two strategies to help you discover this list is to write your ideal obituary or think of what you would choose to do if you only had 6 months left to live.
  6. Next to this list of fulfilling activities, write down what steps you would need to take to incorporate these activities into your daily life. What would that life look like? How would each day unfold?
  7. Finally, compare lists. What changes, even small ones at first, can you make today to your first list to bring you closer to a more fulfilling, joyful life?

Too often, we live our lives feeling like spectators instead of active participants with the power to choose our own course. We get swept up into the mindless hustle and bustle of each day, losing sight of what really gives our lives purpose and meaning. It’s as if we are on autopilot, but depression happens when our autopilot gets stuck in a hectic, negative descent. Unless we take intentional action, chances are that circumstances won’t force a change to the positive. If you are feeling uninspired, burned out, and depressed, it’s time to actively and intentionally participate in the course of your life.

Excerpts of this blog were taken from Dr. Gregory Jantz’s book Turing Your Down into Up: A Realistic Plan for Healing from Depression.

 

Is Social Media Making You Depressed?

In today’s tech intensive world, we invest increasing amounts of ourselves online—our time, our energy, our identities. But for all of the time and effort we put into our virtual lives, how much does is really add to our happiness and overall fulfillment? Is it possible that our social networking can be contributing to our feelings of depression?

In Dr. Jantz’s book, #Hooked: The Pitfalls of Media, Technology, and Social Networking, he cites a study of “disconnect anxiety.” In it, participants described the following feelings when unable to connect via Internet, email, social networks, texting, chat and other online activities:

  • Feeling lost
  • Having only half a voice
  • Disoriented
  • Tense
  • Empty
  • Inadequate
  • Loss of freedom

Paradoxically, we also suffer anxiety when we are connected. Maybe we’re overwhelmed with a multitude of social networks we’re intent on updating on a daily basis. Or maybe we’re suffering from information overload, struggling to stay on top of every development, from world news to the latest from our Facebook friends’ news stream.

In other words, at any given moment throughout your day, the desire to connect online may be a source of anxiety. Even the conscious decision to voluntarily disconnect can be anxiety ridden, making you certain you’re going to miss something or, worse, that your “friends” and “followers” are going to forget you. These feelings of anxiety and social disconnection can lead to depression.

If you suspect you may have an unhealthy level of anxiety associated with your online activity, or lack thereof, consider the following criteria used to determine nonchemical addiction:

Importance: How important has it become to your sense of self and the way you live your life? You can determine importance not only by how much you’re doing it, but also by how much you’re not doing other things. Priority equals importance.

Reward Response: Does doing it make you feel better and more in control? Does not doing it make you feel worse? Doing things you enjoy makes you feel better. Avoiding things you dislike can make you feel better, at least initially. There is a positive payoff to all this activity that can obscure the activities’ negative consequence.

Prevalence: Do you find yourself doing it more often and for longer periods of time than you originally planned? If you feel compelled to say “Just a little bit more” all the time, you’re carving out more and more space in your life for these activities. The question becomes, in order to carve out this time, to what else are you taking the knife?

Cessation: Do you feel anxious or uncomfortable if you cannot do it or if you just think about not doing it? One way to gauge how important these things have become for you is to consider doing without them. The higher level of panic and pain you anticipate, the stronger the hold they have over you.

Disruption: Has doing it disrupted your life and your relationships, causing interpersonal or personal conflicts over what you’re doing?

Reverting: Do you often say to yourself you’re going to do something different but then turn around and keep doing the same thing—or doing it even more? Before you know it, you’re right back to doing what you did, and more.

It is difficult to recognize, promote, and sustain optimism, hope, and joy on the inside when you are struggling with feelings of anxiety, disconnection, inadequateness, and emptiness caused by the constant bombardment of technology and social media. The answer is in taking back control, as much as is possible, of the outside environment of your life. Either we allow our activities and our circumstance to carry us along, or we take control of the direction our lives are going.

Take a moment to examine the role of technology and social media have on your life. Which elements of this technological connection is fulfilling? Which parts leave you feeling inadequate, drained and depressed? Ultimately, the environment you create for yourself is vital in overcoming your depression. Structuring a holistic recovery plan, taking into consideration nuances like technology use, is imperative to this process.

The Center • A Place of HOPE has been consistently ranked among the top treatment facilities in the country for depression. If you believe you are struggling with a technology addiction that may be contributing to your depression, call 1-888-771-5166 / 425-771-5166 to discuss treatment options. Know that you are not alone during this struggle, and never lose hope.

Excerpts of this blog were taken from Dr. Gregory Jantz’s book Turing Your Down into Up: A Realistic Plan for Healing from Depression.

 

Physiological Conditions Causing Depression

The body is not merely along for the mind’s ride into depression. The body is an active participant with the capacity to aggravate or improve symptoms of depression. Understanding the complete picture of an individual’s depression, including the physiological conditions associated with depression, can help elucidate causes and factor into effective healing.

Below is a list of several known causes of depression. We have seen them demonstrated in the lives of countless clients. Many times, individuals came in suffering from depression without really understanding why. Other times, clients who initially came to us because of an addiction or eating disorder sought help for depression as well. Take time to read through this list of possible contributors and note any that seem relevant to your life.

Hypoglycemia: Hypoglycemia is more commonly known as low blood sugar or the “sugar blues.” The body’s main source of fuel is glucose, which is a form of sugar. Glucose is produced by the body through the consumption of carbohydrates, sugars, and starches. Glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream during digestion. Glucose that is not needed is stored in the liver as glycogen. When the amount of sugar in the blood is insufficient to fuel the body’s activities, hypoglycemia occurs. While this condition has not been universally accepted as a cause of depression, even skeptics will agree that hypoglycemia can cause weakness, mental dullness, confusion, and fatigue All of these symptoms, when taken together, can exacerbate depression.

Heart Disease: A recent study has shown that one out of every five people who suffers a heart attack will become depressed. It is understandable how such a traumatic event in one’s life could contribute to a state of depression. Conversely, a link between depression and heart disease was found in a study at the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, which reported that 1) those with heart disease were more likely to be depressed than healthy people, and 2) depressed people who had heart attacks were four times more likely to die within the next six months as people who were not depressed.

Anemia: This condition is also known as iron-poor blood. Symptoms of anemia, similar to depression, include fatigue, weakness, and lethargy. It is difficult to experience mental alertness, optimism, or energy when your body is physically run down.

Apnea: Sleep apnea is a condition where the air passages in the throat close off during sleep. It is more common in those who are overweight and older, as the muscles in the throat lose rigidity and become limp upon relaxation. The resulting symptoms are fatigue, mental confusion, and lethargy—all associated with a state of depression. Though this is a serious condition, it can be treated successful through surgical and nonsurgical methods.

Celiac Disease: This is a condition in which the immune system attacks the food protein gluten. In the process, the small intestine is damaged, making it difficult, if not impossible, for the body to absorb zinc, tryptophan, B vitamins, and other essential nutrients. The absence of these nutrients affects the body’s ability to produce serotonin, the deficiency known to be linked to depression.

Diabetes: This is the body’s inability to regulate its own blood sugar. This constant up-and-down stress of elevated versus low blood sugar levels can compromise the body’s ability to regulate important nutrient absorption and hormonal levels, which provide protection from depressive mood swings.

Seasonal Affective Disorder: This is also known as “the winter blues.” This depressive cycle is tied to the body’s pattern of melatonin secretion. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates the body’s biological clock and coordinates the sleep-wake cycle, including temperature control. Melatonin is produced in the dark and is in greatest production during winter months. However, due to winter’s shorter days, melatonin may be produced either earlier or later in the day, thus throwing the body’s cycle off track.

Heredity: Simply put, depression appears to run in families. While no definitive study pinpoints a depression gene, there is research that suggests a family link.

Dehydration: Most people don’t drink enough water. When the body is dehydrated, one of its main detoxification methods is compromised. Dehydration can cause fatigue, weakness, dizziness, and mental dullness.

Reactional Hyperphagia: It’s no secret that we tend to crave comfort foods when we’re stressed. This doesn’t bode well for people whose stress stems from their inability to lose weight, particularly if they’re experiencing reactional hyperphagia. In this condition, emotional stress affects brain chemistry and hormones in such a way that the body craves “fullness,” even if there is no physical basis for it.

Endocrine Disorders: When the endocrine system, comprised of the thyroid and adrenal glands, is not working properly, through either over or under-functioning, depression has been a result. However, doctors rarely check the thyroid, so its connection to evident depression often goes undiagnosed.

Impaired Homocysteine Conversion: Homocysteine is a nonprotein amino acid, the presence of which in the body must necessarily be converted into the amino acid cysteine. The conversion requires adequate amounts of folate, B12, B6, and zinc in the body. So it is deficiencies of these nutrients that impair the homocysteine-to-cysteine conversion, resulting in homocysteine build up in the body, the overabundance of which has been linked to depression.

After reading through the aforementioned list of physiological conditions, you may immediately recognize some as being present in your life. However, to accurately diagnose yourself and others, you may need to obtain the professional expertise of a medical doctor who understands the role of physical conditions in depression. The Center • A Place of HOPE has been ranked by a third party in the top ten of all treatment facilities in the country for depression. If you would like to speak with depression specialist, please call 1-888-771-5166 / 425-771-5166 or fill out our contact form and someone will be in touch with you.