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Depression 2.0 – Enter Technology

Depression in the modern day is changing. Sure it has the traditional components that we associate with depression. Sadness, restless sleep, withdrawal, irritability and lethargy still exist. But the explosion of technology in the last generation is unavoidable. And it is impacting “traditional” depression.

Technical saturation can prevent mental down time and warp our thinking. 24/7 social media, online bullying, auto emails/texts, and pages of mobile apps on our phones can not only be consuming, they can become addicting.

What does that mean to someone suffering from depression?

Technology and Depression

Some studies are linking excessive social media use and depression. We use social media for connection and affirmation. But subconsciously, many compare what they see and read to their own lives. This can cause us to feel inadequate, unsuccessful and uninformed. For someone struggling with depression, these feelings can exacerbate their grief.

One doesn’t need to look far to be experience discourse online, on the radio and on television. Political, social, and even sports programs thrive on bitter exchanges. For those struggling with depression, repeated exposure to negativity can reinforce their feelings of despair.

Anxiety and Depression

This technology phenomenon is also driving a significant increase in anxiety. For many, anxiety is now becoming synonymous with depression. While different diagnoses, about half of people with depression are also diagnosed with anxiety. Approximately 16 million U.S. adults experienced a significant depression episode in the last year. About half of those, eight million, also experience serious anxiety with their depression.

When both are experienced together, characteristics are often amplified. Recovery can be slower. Recurrence rates are higher. Chronic symptoms are more pronounced. Social and familial impact can be greater.

With technology having a deeper impact on our lives, co-occurring anxiety and depression is increasing. Fortunately, both depression and anxiety are treatable, individually and as co-occurring disorders.

Depression, Technology and Sleep

Are you using your mobile device in bed right before bedtime? It may be adversely affecting your sleep. Excessive use of your computer or mobile device close to bedtime can have a negative impact on your sleep. Emotionally, interacting with upsetting, negative or argumentative content close to bedtime can contribute to restless sleep. Physiologically, the lights from electronic devices can impede melatonin secretion, the hormone that promotes sleep.

What Can I Do If I Have Depression (and Anxiety) Affected by Technology?

The first thing to “do” is to know that both depression and anxiety are treatable. Even if you have both together, a licensed professional or treatment center can help restore your balance. It can return you to the normal functioning, happy person you know still exists inside you. The Center • A Place of HOPE in Edmonds, Washington, is an excellent center that is recognized nationally for its success treating depression and anxiety.

Here are tips you can incorporate into your daily routine to help.

It sounds simple, but use less technology. Disengage as much as possible from social media. Do not watch or listen to programs you know will be filled with arguments and negativity. Spend that time to journal. Write down each day three things for which you are grateful. Write down one thing that inspires you. Write down one goal. Spend time with those who uplift you and do not judge you. Avoid those who bring you down and who do not encourage you.

One hour before bedtime, quit watching television. Do not eat heavy foods within an hour (or more) of bedtime. Create a quiet, dark cool and comfortable sleeping environment. Good sleep will provide restoration and support for your immune system, support cognitive function, and provide more energy for your body. More energy and better cognitive alertness can help minimize depressive and anxiety episodes.

Modern depression is becoming more complex for many. Fortunately, our understanding on how to treat depression, anxiety, and both together has advanced. If you or a loved one are struggling with either or both, contact a mental health professional.

 

Dr. Gregory Jantz is the founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE. For over 30 years, The Center has treated thousands with depression and anxiety. Recognized as a Top 10 Center for the Treatment of Depression, The Center utilizes the whole person approach to care. Dr. Jantz is a leading voice and innovator in mental health utilizing a variety of therapies including nutrition, sleep therapy, spiritual counseling, and advanced DBT techniques. Dr. Jantz is a best-selling author of 39 books and has appeared on CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, and CNN.

 

Be Aware of Life’s Challenges

As you work towards becoming stronger and more resilient in areas of your life, it’s important that you remember O’Toole’s Law.  Simply states, O’Toole’s Law says that Murphy was an optimist.  If something can go wrong with Murphy’s Law, it will go ballistic with O’Toole’s!  With that inescapable truth in mind, here are four areas where you will need to be particularly vigilant in the days ahead to ward off emotional exhaustion and stay strong.

Be alert to ordinary, expected life events.  None of us can escape these.  They are the stuff life is made of: high school, trade school, and college graduations, moving across the street or across the world, retiring, getting a promotion, making new friends, or trying to fit into a new neighborhood.  Anticipate these events as best you can. If you do not have a plan to accept them in the normal course of living, any one of them could throw you for a loop.

Be alert to the probability of unexpected life events.  These are the shocks and sorrows of life.  The death of a spouse or a child; the tragedy of an automobile accident; getting a call in the middle of the night informing you your best friend has suffered a massive heart attack.  These are really tough times. To be strong is to prepare yourself for these sudden events by building a strong foundation faith in God and in his ability to see you through. With God-based courage, you can face the ups and downs of life and remain strong.  The hard times will not destroy you or drive you into prolonged depression and despair.

Be alert to ongoing events that can drive you crazy.  These can be the everyday emotional killers — like the dog next store that barks endlessly, the ongoing skirmishes with a spouse, the quarrels with our kids.  You may be caring for an aged parent who lingers on in poor health, sapping you financially and emotionally. It could be the sheer boredom with a career that’s going nowhere, pressures at work, or unresolved issues with an ex-spouse.  

Events such as these tend to have a cumulative effect. If we do not recognize them and deal with them as emotionally health persons, they won’t be easily resolved.  As they weigh us down, we may feel as if we’ve been ground down to almost nothing. Yet to accept the unacceptable with courage and good humor is one of the ways you can regain control of your life.  In God’s strength you can be strong in even these most difficult daily situations.

Be alert to stress born of your own personality traits.  Much of your stress is actually related to how you are wired.  If you are a perfectionist, life is going to be stressful. In fact, it may border paralysis, with that feeling that you’re never quite up to par and continually comparing yourself to others.  If you feel insecure, lack self-worth, and have an overwhelming sense that people are out to get you, you will often allow stress to get the better of you, and it invariably will steer you toward emotional exhaustion.  

When, however, you learn to roll with the punches, laugh at our world, and not take yourself too seriously, then what are stressors to others will become little more than annoyances to you.  Can you make huge changes in your personality? Probably not. That’s why your best solution is to know yourself, be aware of your challenges, and let life be your wise teacher as you anticipate future events.  

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, emotional exhaustion, anxiety or disordered eating, The Center • A Place of HOPE is here to help.  Contact us today at 1-888-771-5166 and begin the healing process.

 

Emotional Abuse Can Lead to a State of Depression

The negative effects of emotional abuse can be overwhelming and debilitating.  This can lead to a state of depression when the effects of the abuse compromise your ability to hope, cope, envision a future, and to find the strength to carry on each day.  Without optimism, it is difficult to drown out many of the negative messages you heard growing up that damaged your emerging sense of self.  When these negative messages become too loud and strident to overcome, physical depression can be the result.

In my counseling experience, people are baffled as to why they are feeling depressed. They are unsure how to get over it.  They want answers to “fix” the problem; they want drugs to “fix” the problem.  At the heart of so much of the depression I have treated is emotional abuse as children.  Because they are now adults, they can’t see how what happened to them twenty, thirty, even forty years ago could make such a difference.  Often they have spent their adult lives “moving on” and attempting to put the past behind them.  What I help them learn is that it is only possible to move on from the past once you have acknowledged and dealt with it.

I also help them to see that the ways they have chosen to put the past behind them end up pushing patterns of the past to the forefront.  Ignoring the past doesn’t make it go away.  Accepting the past does.

Depression has been described as a deep, black hole you find yourself falling into.  The sides are steep and slick.  There doesn’t seem to be any way to stop your descent.  It happens in slow motion — flailing of the arms, twists and turns of the body, agonizing movements that produce no results.  Eventually you stop fighting and just slide down into the pit.  No light, desires, energy.  No hope.

But also no pain.  No anger.  No emotion to deal with at all.  Just a numbing grayness hanging over your life.  When pain is too great, anger too consuming, and emotions too conflicting, the blurry haze of depression has an allure.

Emotional abuse leads to intense feelings of anger, rage, resentment, and bitterness.  Submerged feelings of guilt and fear of your abuser can lead you to choose a safer target for your anger than your abuser.  All too often that target is you.  Unspent anger continually works inside the body, using up energy, causing feelings of fatigue and apathy.  Unable to see any hope in your life, you slowly begin to isolate yourself from others, from getting out and socializing, from exercising or taking care of your body.  So often in your abuse nothing has seemed to work.  Every time you thought it was going to get better, it got worse.  So what’s the use? you wonder.

This world we live in can be a difficult place.  Pressures and stresses that come from everyday living are enough to temporarily sideline even the healthiest of us.  When emotional abuse has battered your defenses, maintaining a successful stand against those forces can be almost impossible.  That is why it is so important to gain support from others:  from healthy relationships, from friends who love you, even from caring professionals who can assist you in rediscovering your strength to face each day successfully.  You may also need a professional to assist you in rebalancing your body’s natural chemistry when necessary.[1]

The Center • A Place of HOPE specializes in the treatment of fear, anxiety and depression, and uses a whole-person approach that allows you to discover what is truly going on in mind, body and spirit. Contact us today at 1-888-771-5166 and begin the healing process.

[1] For a thorough discussion of the effects of depression, see Gregory L Jantz with Ann McMurray, Moving Beyond Depression:  A Whole-Person Approach to Healing (Colorado Springs:  Shaw, 2003)

 

Feelings Are in the File Cabinet

When you woke up this morning and prepared for your day, do you remember everything you did? You may remember that you showered, dressed, had breakfast, and went to your car. Do you know how many seconds you washed your hair or if you washed your ears first or your elbows? Do you remember what contributed to the decision of which cereal to eat (or whatever)? My guess is probably not. Most day-to-day, trivial, or familiar thoughts, actions, and feelings fly under the radar in the “non-conscious” zone.

Just as we can be unaware of our routines, we can also let negative feelings or self-defeating thinking slip by unnoticed. You may occasionally notice them, but you will likely also have a list of reasons they belong there. Most of the time, you go back to your daily routine, feeling low, but at some point, you stop questioning these thoughts and feelings. Over time, your self-esteem erodes. You may even struggle with anxiety or depression, but it all feels true and right.

Let me encourage you to question such things. Ask yourself why you feel so bad.

To understand a common reason for our negative self-image, picture your brain is a file cabinet. These files are tagged either with words or emotions. In the frontal lobe of your brain, in the place right between (and behind) your eyes sits someone called the, “Executive Assistant” – the EA. The EA runs the office and works with millions of little couriers. Some of them go on their own and the EA has no control (such as the ones who run the heart). Others can be told what to do to a point (such as the ones who can make you hold your breath). Others are fairly easy to manage (the ones who want the same thing the EA wants). Finally, there are some couriers you have to pretty much kick into shape (the “but I don’t want to clean and organize my garage this weekend” couriers, for example).

You may have read about “Brain Babble” – the thing that happens when automatic, but inappropriate or inaccurate thoughts run the show. Did you know a similar phenomenon can happen with emotions? Emotions can also be filed incorrectly.

Imagine you observe a classroom of six-year-olds. Ten minutes before class is to end for the day, the teacher announces that everyone can spend the time coloring. At the end of the time, little Jay-jay comes to show the teacher his picture. Jay-jay is smiling ear-to-ear and the teacher beams as she congratulates him on his good work. How do you think Jay-jay feels in that moment? What do you think will happen the next time he is given time to color?

Now imagine the same scenario, except this time when Jay-jay proudly displays his masterpiece, the teacher replies with, “What is wrong with you? Don’t you know by now that frogs are green and not purple? Goodness! Go try again!”

How do you think the little guy would feel then? Pretty terrible. What do you suppose he will do next time he is faced with a pack of crayons and blank paper? Can you hear what his little brain would say to him? “Give it up, Jay-jay – you can’t color right!”

Is that true? Did Jay-jay do anything wrong? NO! Where was the problem? With the teacher who put down his work. But, what did Jay-jay end up feeling? Deflated and inept.

Emotions experienced in such situations are intense and are tagged into the brain with “danger signs” attached to them. They feel real and unless you are aware and can access your wise mind, the temptation to believe these types of false messages may seem too great.

If you find yourself struggling with overwhelming emotions, a poor self-image, or even numbed-out feelings, or if you fear that you may be believing lies about yourself, extend compassion to yourself the same way you would to someone else who believed untrue things about themselves and go on a quest to find the truth. If you cannot seem to do this on your own, then consider taking time away in the supportive environment of The Center • A Place of HOPE. The staff knows how the file cabinet works and have helped many people in their pursuit of truth as they take the journey to build a healthier life.

Written by Hannah Smith, MA LMHC CGP, Group Therapy Program Coordinator, she is a Neuroscience-informed, Licensed Therapist and International Board-certified Group Psychotherapist. Hannah’s passion is to see people reach their potential and find lasting, positive change. 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 more.

Allowing Food to Nourish You

Sally was overweight, unhappy, and on the brink of emotional exhaustion.  She had an unhealthy relationship with food, After numerous counseling sessions, this is what she decided to do:

One, I started eating a simple, healthy breakfast each morning.  This was my only guideline; that it had to be healthy.  No list of special foods, no restrictive diet, no calories to count, lie about or eat.  Nothing.  What surprised me was that I was being asked to make my own decisions, and not rely on someone else’s idea of what I should consume.  I was given complete freedom to eat when I wanted, and how much I wanted.  It just had to be healthy.  Actually, this frightened me, because I wanted to be told what to do.” [1]

Sally was really frightened when I asked her to make her own decisions about food and about making food the right kind of friend.  Here’s the rest of Sally’s story:

So I chose to eat a large breakfast of whole grain cereal and lowfat milk and some fruit each morning.  It was bulky so it made me feel full.  It wasn’t sugary, so my insulin level did not increase.  I knew all about this theoretically, but it wasn’t easy to put into practice.  A big part of me (which was most of me) hated it.  I missed my usual two jelly donuts and three cups of coffee with lots of cream, followed in a few minutes by grazing in the fridge for a few leftovers from the night before.  But I’d made an agreement with Dr. Jantz to do this, and besides I was desperate.

The second thing was even more amazing to me.  I was asked not to weigh myself at all in between sessions.  I’d already sent my scale “on vacation,” so there was no way to weigh myself at home.  But I was not to weigh myself anywhere.  This was difficult.  How would I know if I was making any progress if I couldn’t weigh myself two or three times a day as I’d done most of my life?  I didn’t understand it, but I said I’d stick with the program and obey the rules. [2]

I’m happy to report that Sally is doing quite well, self-correcting along the way as she’s still tempted to return to her old way of thinking about food.  She’s rediscovering what food is all about — it’s there to nourish her body and is not a substance for abuse.

When recovering from emotional exhaustion, you quickly learn the benefits of decreasing the amount of fat and refined carbohydrates in your diet.  Additionally, when you start to take seriously the reports of increased risk of heart disease and cancer associated with these high levels of fat, I hope you will quickly choose to self-correct.

You will read food labels more carefully and seek to interpret the wealth of information they contain.  This is a far cry from the ineffective calorie counting and roller-coaster dieting you may have engaged in before.  You will also stop frying your foods and breading your meats.  You will learn that broiling and baking are better alternatives to cooking foods in fats and oil.  You will also begin to investigate food supplements that are specifically designed to help rebalance the body chemistry of those who are emotionally and physically exhausted.

Sally had to learn that dieting and bingeing were terrible obstacles to her stressed physical health and mental stability.  Each round of dieting caused increased hypertension and a rise in her blood pressure.  When she finally understood that dieting and bingeing were making her more prone to stress-related illnesses, heart and kidney disease, and stroke, she knew she had to make a change.  To do this, Sally had to start listening to her body.  She had actually forgotten what it was like to eat normally.

This all began with a commitment to a proven, effective program of permanent weight loss and a deep desire to join the 2 percent who succeed in losing weight permanently.

Can you relate to Sally?  Perhaps now is the time that you, too, need to learn to see food as healing you, making you strong, and filling you with vitality.

Authored by Dr. Gregory Jantz, founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE and author of 37 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.

[1] Jantz, Losing Weight, 110.

[2] Ibid.

 

Ten Questions to Ask About Your Virtual Relationships

Ironically, the very thing we turn to for increased connectivity with others is proving to be the biggest disconnection point in our lives.  Not only are we distracting ourselves from face-to-face interactions, but the virtual relationships we’re prioritizing are often lacking in the most important connection point of all–the intimacy of in-person warmth and sincerity.

To detect the presence or extent of your virtual void, ask yourself the following ten questions:

  1. How am I connecting with others online?
  2. What is the content of that connection?
  3. Would I be willing for my spouse or members of my family to view all of my online activities and content?
  4. What emotional needs are being met through these online relationships?
  5. How would I feel if I were unable to connect online for a day, a week, or even a month?
  6. How many non-family relationships do I maintain?
  7. Of those relationships, how many do I keep strictly online, meaning I don’t talk or visit but only connect online?
  8. Are there any online relationships or activities that pose a threat or provide competition to my in-person relationships?
  9. Am I willing, within the next week, to modify, limit, or sever any online relationship or activity that poses such a threat?
  10. If I’m not willing, what is holding me back?  Be specific.

As difficult as it may be to face your answers to these questions, do not underestimate the power of these truths to naturally lend themselves to your transformation.  Simply observing and accepting your behavior as it exists now will naturally inspire you to make more informed, and healthier, decisions in the future.

Do not be afraid to examine your virtual relationships and reevaluate the role they’re playing in your life.  Through an honest assessment, you can come to better understand why you are seeking online connection.  And if there are barriers you need help overcoming, do not hesitate to seek professional help.

If someone you know is suffering from technology addiction, depression, or anxiety, remember that there is HOPE.  There are professionals ready to help.  For more information about treatment call 1-888-747-5592 to speak confidentially with a specialist today. The Center • A Place of HOPE.  The Center was recently ranked as a Top 10 facility in the country for the treatment of depression, and our team is standing by to help you and your loved ones.

 

 

 

Examining Your Anxiety

It may seem that our current, crazy, stressful lives produce a bumper crop of anxieties, concerns, and worries.  Because we think our present circumstances are unique, we use them as an explanation and, frankly, as an excuse.  We use them as an excuse to justify hopelessness, for staying stuck.  Life today is just so hard.  This is just who I am.  I’ve tried everything and nothing seems to work.  No one can really help.  What I go through is just too weird; no one can really understand. 

Anxieties speak a language of absolutes.  A possibility is a certainty.  What could, will.  What might, will.  But if anxieties speak a language of absolutes, it is not a universal language.  Some words are not translatable.  Anxiety does not have a word for peace.  It does not have a word for relief.  It does not have a word for rest.  It is a language of negativity, of hopelessness, of despair.  It is a language of defeat.  Anxieties force us to surrender before the true battle is even engaged.

There is an axiom: know your enemy.  I’d like you to anthropomorphize your anxiety, your phobia, your panic attack and think about it as something other than yourself.  This is a way for you to examine your anxieties and their consequences through an imaginary buffer.  Put them outside of yourself and give yourself permission to examine them without triggering them.

Anxiety disorders have an anatomy.  They have shared traits and unique features.  What I’d like you to do now is get to know yours.  As much as you’re able, think of it in the third person.  Use “it” instead of “I.”

  • What are the physical characteristics of anxiety?  What does it do to you?
  • How often does it happen?
  • What do you do to help yourself feel better?  Does anything help?
  • Does anything make it worse?
  • How long does it usually last?
  • Have you ever talked with someone about it?  If so, who and why?  If not, why not?
  • How long have you been hoping it would just go away?
  • Do you really believe you’ll ever be able to get over it?

Hebrews 11:1 says that “faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see” (NLT). Anxiety is a perversion of faith.  Anxiety is the confidence that what we hope against will actually happen; it gives us assurance that what we can’t yet see will be bad.  Hebrews 11 is a chapter replete with the victories of faith.  Anxiety doesn’t produce any victories; it only accomplishes defeat.  This is not the life God has planned for you.  The life you’re living now is not the one he wants you to live.

The faith life God intends for you is not the perverse life of anxiety.  He does not want you to take your capacity for faith and distort it into a belief in the least possible or the worst imaginable.  He does not want you to sacrifice your life on the altar of anxiety, giving up more and more year after year, hoping to appease anxiety’s appetite.

Instead of trusting in the catastrophe of today and the terror of tomorrow, God asks you to trust in him.  As you continue to to examine your anxiety and what effect it’s had on your life, I ask you to transfer as much trust as you can from anxiety to God.  You’ve trusted in your anxiety’s capacity to cause you grief, fear, and stress.  Take a part of that trust and turn it over to God.  Trust him to be with you through this journey, to know the face of your fear, to be strong enough to help you overcome it and loving enough to deeply desire to help you.

If you are struggling with anxiety, depression, or fear in your life, The Center • A Place of HOPE is here to help.  For more information, call 1-888-747-5592 to speak confidentially with a specialist today.

 

Unclothing the Lie that Words Can Never Hurt

“My God! You are so clumsy! What is wrong with you?” Once again, Angie had spilled her milk. Her siblings popped up out of their seats, as much to get away from their mother as away from the milk, which was now spreading across the table and threatening to drip on the floor.

“Get out of my way!” their mother yelled as she grabbed a kitchen towel and headed for the spill. “Don’t just stand there! Pick up those plates so I can make sure it doesn’t get on the carpet! Angie was afraid to move, afraid to do anything else wrong. No one looked at her—not her mother, not her brother, not her sister— until the spill was mopped up and the table put back together.

“Oh, no you don’t,” her mother said as Angie started to sit down at the table. “You cannot be trusted.” After picking up Angie’s plate, her mother went into the kitchen and placed it on the floor, next to the dog bowl. “You can just eat with the dog until you can eat like a person.” With that, her mother marched back into the other room, leaving Angie thinking about a meal she no longer had any interest in.

Emotional abuse happens when an adult humiliates a child for actions consistent with being a child.

Children require correction from adults to learn the right thing to do. Emotional abuse happens when correction meant to help the child is turned into humiliation meant to punish the child. The definition of humiliation is to cause a painful loss of dignity, pride, or self-respect. Children have not yet gained the maturity to withstand the damage of humiliation, which can be difficult even for adults to endure. Humiliating a child is taking advantage of someone younger and more vulnerable out of a distorted desire for control and power.

More than twenty years ago, I wrote a book on emotional abuse because I wasn’t finding much acknowledgment regarding the damage I was seeing in my clients from emotional or psychological abuse. One question I asked in that book was why emotional abuse was so common. I concluded that emotional abuse was so prevalent because some people categorized emotional abuse as normal. How could something normal be considered abusive? So what if you were yelled at growing up, wasn’t everyone? Who cared if you were regularly dismissed as worthless? You just needed to try harder. If you didn’t grow up feeling loved, that was just a generational thing you were supposed to get over. If you weren’t beaten within an inch of your life, you had nothing to complain about. So people didn’t complain; they moved on with their lives. Yet some of those people kept having difficulties, difficulties that eventually led them to my office.

People are slow to admit the obvious in cases of emotional abuse for various reasons. When I was growing up, years of groupthink said that adults, especially parents, had the right to deal with children however they saw fit. You weren’t supposed to involve yourself in another family’s “business.” If adults spoke harshly to children, well, they must have had a reason. It wasn’t your “place” to object—and certainly not in public.

My generation also grew up learning that “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” I remember repeating that rhyme to myself when other kids were mean to me. I learned the lesson well and determined I wasn’t going to let other kids get to me. That rhyme wasn’t as successful when it came to hurtful words from adults, and certainly not my parents.

When I started my practice over thirty years ago, I committed to unclothe the lie that “words can never hurt.” They can and they do, in stunning and devastating ways. When society collectively comes to that conclusion, the emotional abuse of children will become less common.

If you or a loved one is struggling with past abuse, The Center • A Place of HOPE is here to help.  Our team is skilled at navigating these sensitive issues, and bringing healing and treatment for emotional abuse to the whole family. For more information, fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak confidentially with a specialist today.

Are You Experiencing Burnout and Exhaustion?

Perhaps you are a single mother who’s working full time.  Your kids are with a babysitter or in day care all day.  You feel angry, bitter, guilty.  Or maybe you’re a pastor or youth worker in a church.  You spend every single hour serving God, loving people, and making a difference in the lives of others.  Yet your own marriage is a disaster.  You’ve lost the art of communication with your spouse.  Passion is only a word in the dictionary.  You’re ready to call it quits.

Perhaps you’ve gained thirty pounds over the last year, and you’ve finally admitted that food is your only true friend.  You may have a problem with drinking, or are afflicted with a sexual addiction, or find yourself emotionally or physically abusing others.  Whatever your challenge may be, it has you in a nice grip from which you can see no escape. One thing for sure: You are exhausted.  Each day is another twenty-four hours of pain and struggle.  You scream inside but no one can hear you.

When our lives start to sputter and we forget to follow our dreams, we tend to become stagnant.  We stop thinking, caring, observing, and reaching out to others.  This is usually subtle, but it’s the first critical stage of coming distractions.  Because of this stagnation and cessation of emotional growth, we stop giving our bodies and minds the proper stimuli they need.

Fear, feelings of guilt, animosity, an unforgiving spirit, loneliness, frustration, or a Lone Ranger mentality can siphon off our energy, potential, and zest for life.  Left unresolved, these attitudes develop a life of their own, creating stress that over time can lead to emotional exhaustion.  Thoreau once said that most people “live lives of quiet desperation.”  They look good on the outside but internally they are a seething mass of pain and fear, walking a tightrope of emotional instability, hoping against hope that no one removes the safety net, because they know they are heading for a fall.  Until this quiet desperation is dealt with, the exhaustion will remain, and there will be little hope for inner healing.

What do we do when life seems hopeless or out of control?  We move into areas we think will help: more work, more alcohol, more obsessive/compulsive activity, more entertainment, more frantic escape from reality.  But it’s always more and more of the wrong thing.  Instead of helping us regain control of our lives, it produces an internal environment that evolves into burnout.  We feel an uncontrollable sense of disease, but because we’re on a vicious cycle of unproductive activity, we keep doing the same unproductive activity over and over.  When our burnout and stress builds to a level at which we cannot endure pain any longer, we cross the line to physical and mental exhaustion.

Before long we forget who we are and what we’re about.  We start to decompose.  We no longer feel special.  We wonder if God has even taken away our giftedness.  We look into the mirror, and we don’t like what is looking back at us.  We no longer see a beautiful creature, designed in the image of a loving God.  Instead, we look through bewildered eyes and see only what is wrong.

We forget that joy comes from within, never from external sources.  We fail to remember that spiritual emptiness produces impotence.  And because we have selective amnesia of what is truly good, loving, and kind, we become displaced persons, every bit as confused and alone as hapless refugees who stumble onto a foreign shore.

If you are struggling to find joy in your life, The Center • A Place of HOPE is here to help. Our team is skilled at navigating issues surrounding addiction, depression, stress and anxiety.  For more information, call 1-888-747-5592 to speak confidentially with a specialist today.

Physical Motion and Depression

No matter what you call it, physical motion is vital to a healthy life.  It is also effective in relieving depression.  The British Journal of Sports Medicine reported that walking thirty minutes each day alleviated symptoms of depression more quickly than many pharmaceutical antidepressants. [i]

Many of you may have difficulty imagining exercise as part of your life.  You may have visions of gigantic weight lifters or slender long-distance runners and conclude you were never meant to be an athlete.  Healthy movement is not defined merely by athletic competition.  Rather, it is starting from wherever you are and gradually adding more motion.  Keep in mind for the following principles:

  • Start Slow – By starting slow, you give your body a chance to catch up to your mental decision to begin moving more.
  • Pick Your Motion – Try walking, low-impact aerobics, swimming, or modifying a favorite activity, such as golf (choosing to walk part of the way instead of riding in the cart).
  • Maintain Consistency – Physical motion needs to become a life choice.  It’s not about the next few weeks, or the next few months, or the next few years.  It’s about establishing a routine, a ritual if you will, of being good to yourself through movement.
  • Find A Friend – If you find motivating yourself to exercise a challenge, ask someone to join you.  Personal interaction, as well as physical movement, is of tremendous value.  You may soon find that you are going farther and doing more than you ever imagined, because you are concentrating more on the other person than on the exercise.
  • Be Prepared For Aches – While it is important to start out slow, you don’t want to stay so slow that you’re not accomplishing anything physically.  Ideally, you want to be able to work into an exercise routine that will produce a light sweat.  Sweat is one of the main ways the body detoxifies itself.
  • Watch Out For Pain – While aches are to be tolerated, be aware of any pain.  Pain is the body’s signal that something is wrong.  If it has been a while since you’ve engaged in any physical activity, consider going to your primary care physician and obtaining a physical examination.  Ask his or her guidance in planning the type, duration, and frequency of exercise.

To learn more about how nutritional support and hydration can impact depression, visit our previous blog post.

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.

[i] F. Dimeo, M. Bauer, I. Varahram, G. Proest, and U. Halter, “Benefits from Aerobic Exercise in Patients with Major Depression: A Pilot Study,” British Journal of Sports Medicine 35 (April 2001): 114 – 117.