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Coming Out of the Darkness

One of the remarkable similarities of those who suffer from depression is the common image of darkness they use to describe their depression. In an effort to articulate the unexplainable, they speak in terms of feeling burdened, weighed down, and oppressed. The overwhelming reality of depression manifests itself in recurring themes of despair and hopelessness. Though each individual may take a different route into that despair, the description of a hollowed-out destination of helplessness is universal.

The whole-person approach recognizes these individual paths to depression, its universal signatures, and the reality of individual routes to recovery. In helping each person to identify and work toward his or her recovery, the whole-person approach acknowledges and addresses the common emotional contributors to depression. We are emotional beings, and whatever the reason for the depression, its expression comes through our emotional state.

When a person is depressed, it is vital to discover the emotional roots such as anger, fear, and guilt that firmly lock depression into a person’s mind-set. Something is arguing against optimism, hope, and joy. In order to address the emotional component of depression, the root cause must be uncovered, understood, and addressed in a positive, healing way.

Taking a multidimensional approach to recovery increases the rate of success. While some use medication alone to get a handle on their depression, research shows a higher degree of healing occurs when therapy is combined with medication. Therapy or counseling provides individuals with a safe place to talk about feelings and discuss past and current events in life that have contributed to who they are now. Therapists can also make suggestions about positive actions people can integrate into their lives.

At The Center • A Place of HOPE, we have found that when the whole-person approach is utilized, including an understanding of the body and the appropriate use of medication, the rates of recovery are further enhanced. We strive to include the physical, spiritual, mental and emotional elements of each individual into the recovery process. Also, because each person’s story and situation is unique, we create unique recovery plans for each person that comes to The Center.

If someone you know is suffering from depression, remember that it’s important to seek professional guidance when diagnosing and treating depression. For more information about depression treatment, fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak confidentially with a specialist today. The Center • A Place of HOPE Depression Treatment Facility 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.

 

The Many Faces of Depression

Many people who have suffered from depression describe it as a dark cloud that hovers over them, clouding their capacity to feel joy, hope and live life to its fullest. How this cloud manifests itself can be as unique as the people who suffer from it. There are, however, some reoccurring “faces” to depression that can help us identify its presence and acknowledge when professional help is needed.

Here are some common faces of depression. Depression shows itself through a prolonged period of sadness or anxiety. It leaches interest or pleasure out of activities that would normally be enjoyable. Depression alters appetite and sleep patterns. It promotes feelings of guilt, shame and hopelessness. Depression interferes with the ability to make decisions to concentrate, to remember things, and to focus. It steadily strangles the will to act, sometimes producing a frantic and anxious state, or an apathetic lethargy. Depression may lead to recurrent thoughts of suicide and death.

In times past, depression was considered a weakness, suffered by weak people, as evidenced by the higher rate of depression among women. The chauvinistic, repressive attitude toward depression and its sufferers has been changing, allowing the depressed to come out from under the cloak of shame and to seek help for their illness.

At The Center • A Place of HOPE, we have found, with whole-person treatment, approximately 90 percent of our clients experience long-term recovery. Over the past 20 years of working with depression recovery, we have developed the keys to unlock the secrets of “why people get depressed.”

Clients come to our clinic with concerns about anxiety, hopelessness, and feelings of being overwhelmed or increasingly isolated. They do not use the term depression to explain their concerns. Either they are fearful of any lingering stigma, or they simply have been unable to place a label on their nameless dread. Some are at the point of suicide, without really knowing why they feel that taking their own life is the only way to end the pain.

Others come to our clinic with difficulties in relationships; they have become moody, irritable, isolated form loved ones, sometimes even abusive. Clients are concerned about their inability to concentrate at work, and they lack productivity that threatens their employment. Sometimes it is not the depressed person who makes contact with us; it is loved ones concerned about that person’s behavior. They are concerned about the withdrawal they see, or the risky, thrill-seeking behaviors some depressed people will use in an attempt to jolt themselves out of their depression.

If you are struggling with a dark cloud of depression, or you have observed warning signs of depression in the life of a loved one, seeking professional help may be the quickest, easiest, and safest way to find healing. The Center • A Place of HOPE was recently voted in the Top 10 depression treatment facilities in the United States because of our holistic and lasting approach to depression recovery. Our team at The Center • A Place of HOPE cares, and we can help. If you are ready to regain true joy and happiness in your life, fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak with a depression recovery specialist today.

 

Evaluating Past and Present Relationships Contributing to Depression

Depression can come when we feel bound to repeat the negative patterns of our past. Through an honest evaluation of our past and present relationships, we come to understand who we are and what we bring to each of our relationships.

Often times, the greatest joys, but also the greatest insecurities, traumas, and scars can come from our own family. The intentions of adults in a family may not be to pass along negative responses to their children, yet through their own inability to control these responses, they set up negative patterns for their children to follow. As children follow these patterns, the negative perceptions that accompany them become grounded in their lives.

Without ever being told, children develop a working model for life based on the suspicion, insecurity, perfectionism, self-centeredness, frustration, or oppressive behavior of their parents. This model produces feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness, all of which suffocate optimism, hope, and joy.

You may have a background where emotional abuse of this type, or worse, was evident in your family. It will not be difficult for you to pinpoint how these negative experiences have impacted your ability to balance yourself emotionally. Or, you may look back at your childhood and conclude your family can’t be a source of your depression because you didn’t have an abusive experience. Take time, however, to really examine the patterns you learned from your family.

This is not a search through your past to assign blame, but rather a mature look at the learned responses from your family to discover those that might be contributing to the strength and longevity of your depression. It is so important for you to be able to identify the burdens from past relationships that may be slowing down your rate of recovery. Once you discover these hindrances, you will be equipped to develop a plan for moving forward.

As you review past relationships, also take some time to examine your current relationships. Many times, our present relationships are a direct reflection of the quality and content of our past relationships. If our childhood experience was negative, we often choose to engage in similar relationships as adults.

Write down the significant people in your life today that are not included in the previous group of family, listing each person by name and relationship. Special people in your life need not be confined to family. They can be coworkers, friends, mentors, or acquaintances. How does each person relate to you? Is it in a positive or a negative way?  Does the present relationship mirror a past relationship?

Take time to reflect on the relationships in your life and how you engage with them. This process alone could reveal the reasons for your depression. While it is important to acknowledge the past and understand its effects on the present, it is also important to note that you have the opportunity to make positive changes for your future.

If you are struggling with depression and you are ready to change your life for good, The Center • A Place of HOPE can help. Recently voted in the Top 10 depression treatment facilities in the United States, The Center • A Place of HOPE not only helps ease the symptoms of depression, but seeks to heal its root cause. If you are ready to regain true joy and happiness in your life, fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak with a depression recovery specialist today.

 

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.

 

Are You Depressed?

How do you know if you’re depressed? When does sadness become depression? How many “bad days” can a person have in a row and not be considered depressed? How can you tell that what you’re feeling is something that’s going to get better on its own? These are excellent questions.

Below are two types of indicators: yellow indicators, which signal caution and should be monitored, and red indicators, which signal identified symptoms of depression. Red indicators are certainly important for you to be aware of, but watch for the number of yellow indicators present. Yellow tend to turn into red over time, if not addressed. It is important to note that these indicators are not scientific tools, but rather a way for you to identify contributing conditions in your life. If you believe that you or someone you love is suffering from depression, seek professional help.

Yellow Indicators

  • A loss of enjoyment with established activities.
  • Feeling restless, tired, or unmotivated at work.
  • An increase in irritability or impatience.
  • Feeling either “wound up” or “weighed down.”
  • Feeling overburdened with life and its activities.
  • A lack of spiritual peace or well-being.
  • Finding relief by controlling aspects of your personal behavior, including consuming liquids or food.
  • A fear of expressing strong emotions.
  • A constant anxiety or vague fear about the future.
  • Feeling unappreciated by others.
  • Feeling a sense of martyrdom, as if you are constantly asked to do the work of others.
  • Exercising a pattern of impulsive thinking or rash judgments.
  • Sexual difficulties or a loss of interest in sexual activities.
  • A sense of enjoyment at seeing the discomfort of others.
  • Anger at God for how you feel.
  • A recurrent pattern of headaches, muscle aches, or body pains.
  • Feeling social isolation and distancing yourself from family or friends.
  • Feeling trapped during your day by what you have to do.
  • Displaying a pattern of pessimistic or critical comments and/or behaviors.
  • Feeling like your best days are behind you and the future doesn’t hold much promise.
  • Feeling “left out” of life.
  • Binging on high calorie foods to feel better.
  • Apathetic upon waking about how the day will turn out.
  • Feeling it is easier just to do things yourself instead of wanting to work with others.
  • Experiencing recurring gastrointestinal difficulties.
  • Feeling trapped inside your body.
  • Dreading the thought of family get-togethers or social gatherings.
  • Feeling overweight, unattractive, or unlovable.
  • Feeling old, discarded, and without value.
  • Unmotivated to try new activities, contemplate new ideas, or enter into new relationships.

Red indicators

  • A significant change in appetite, lasting longer than two weeks, resulting in either marked weight loss or weight gain.
  • Disturbances in your sleep patterns for longer than two weeks, resulting in difficulty falling and staying asleep.
  • Increased agitation or inability to relax, occurring for an extended period of time (longer than two weeks).
  • Feelings of fatigue, lethargy, or loss of energy, occurring for an extended period of time (longer than two weeks).
  • Feelings of sadness, despondency, despair, loneliness, or worthlessness, ongoing for an extended period of time (longer than two weeks).
  • Inability to concentrate, focus, or make decisions, recurring over a period of time (longer than two weeks).
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide.
  • Planning or attempting suicide.

If you answered “yes” to one or more red indicators, do not ignore the signs and just hope they will go away. Talk to a counseling professional that can help you work through these issues in a responsible, thoughtful way. The Center • A Place of HOPE has been consistently ranked among the top treatment facilities in the country for depression. If you answered “yes” to the red indicators, or are struggling with multiple yellow indicators, 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.

 

The Importance of Self-Talk When Overcoming Depression

The relationships around you can oftentimes influence your struggle with depression. But before you continue examining others, pause for a moment and take a good, deep look at you. Perhaps the most fundamental relationship you have is not with someone else it is with yourself. Though you interact with others, you are also in constant communication with yourself through self-talk. This inner dialogue sets the stage for how you respond to life.

When you are depressed, your self-talk can become one-sided, centered on negative dialogue of despair, regrets, frustration, confusion, and doubts. The voice of forgiveness is rarely heard, and the chorus of optimism, hope, and joy are drowned out. Take some time to think about how you treat yourself. Are you your own drainer or filler? Do you make it a habit of pointing out the positive? Or is your self-talk a constant stream of emphasizing the negative? How do you talk to yourself when you make a mistake? How do you talk to yourself when negative circumstances occur?

If your self-talk is out of balance, your ability to maintain a healthy relationship with yourself is compromised. It becomes difficult to escape the constant chatter of negativity inside your own head. Even more devastating, the more we think a certain way, the more likely we are to believe ourselves, manifesting our thoughts into reality.

Escaping this pattern of negative self-talk is a great challenge, and requires a consistent, long-term effort. It begins with simply observing your thoughts. Throughout the course of the day, try to step outside yourself and be an onlooker to your stream of consciousness. What types of thoughts are you having? Where do they come from? Where do they lead? Are they primarily positive or negative? Try not to pass any judgment on your thoughts, but just observe them as they pass through. Having awareness of your thoughts is an important first step towards shifting your thought patterns.

The next step in working toward a healthier relationship with yourself is through more realistic and truthful self-talk. There is great value in acknowledging and affirming the truth, both about situations and about yourself. By focusing on objective truths, you are able to avoid any subjective, and oftentimes negative, judgments.

Finally, another strategy to help improve the quality of your self-talk is to focus on the things you’re grateful for. When you observe your thoughts wandering towards negativity, don’t get angry with yourself. Instead, stop whatever you’re doing and think about something or someone that you are grateful for. This will immediately divert your mind from negative self-talk and redirect it towards the uplifting, positive aspects of your life.

Overcoming depression requires a multifaceted approach—both internally and externally. While there are many thought patterns that you can shift internally to help shake the feeling of depression, oftentimes people struggling with depression need external help. At The Center • A Place of HOPE, we understand the importance of holistic treatment,  If you or a loved one are struggling with depression, call to get the help you deserve.

Sustaining Optimism, Hope and Joy: Keys to Emotional Equilibrium

It is vital for your emotional equilibrium that you counterbalance anger, fear, and guilt with optimism, hope, and joy. The promise of the whole person approach means that the healthy aspects of a person can support the weaker characteristics until the whole person is strong and well. Intellectual, relational, physical, and spiritual aspects of your life can also assist you in sustaining the life-affirming emotions of optimism, hope, and joy.

Intellectual Support

To support emotional balance, be aware of the information you are feeding your mind. Try reading a positive, uplifting book, and intentionally set aside time in your day to fill yourself up intellectually with constructive, encouraging messages. Be aware of what you are reading and listening to, and seek to counter the negative input we all get as a part of our day with positive influences.

Relational Support

Think of a person you really enjoy talking to, someone who makes you feel good about yourself or someone who’s fun to be around. It could be a family member, coworker, teller at the bank, or anyone who brings a smile to your day. Intentionally plan to spend time with that person, even if it’s just for a moment or two. Make the effort to verbalize your appreciation for his or her positive presence in your day.

Physical Support

Physical activity is a wonderful way of promoting emotional health. Engage in some mild exercise this week. Take a walk around the neighborhood. Stroll through a city park. The goal is two fold: to get your body moving, and to allow you to focus on something other than yourself and your surroundings. Take a little time when you’re in the neighborhood and greet your neighbors. Stop while you were at the park and watch someone playing with his dog, or cheer at a Little League game. Intentionally open up your focus to include the broader world around you.

Spiritual Support

Take some time to nourish your spirit. If you are a member of a religious organization, make sure to attend services this week. If you are not, listen to some religious or meditative music. Spend time in quiet reflection, meditation, or prayer. Intentionally engage in an activity that replenishes and reconnects your spirit.

Each of these actions may seem unachievable, given the way you feel. Please, do them anyway. If you are emotionally out of sync, you can’t rely on how you’re feeling to determine what you do. Each of these actions, done intentionally, will help you in two ways: (1) they will assist you in focusing on optimism, hope, and joy; and (2) they will reinforce the truth that you can intentionally respond to life and it’s circumstances. You can choose. Today, choose optimism, hope, and joy.

If you or a loved one is struggling with depression, The Center • A Place Of Hope can help. Call 1-888-771-5166 / 425-771-5166 or fill out our contact form and someone will be in touch with you soon.

The content of this post was derived from: 2013 Gregory L. Jantz, Turning Your Down into Up, WaterBrooks.

 

Whole-Person Approach to Depression Treatment

People arrive at the point of depression from many different places, indicating there are a variety of paths to recovery. In short, there is no one answer for depression and no single path to recovery. Just as the reasons for depression are a varied as the individuals who suffer from it, the paths to recovery will also be unique to each individual. In order to deal with an individual’s depression, his or her uniqueness and story must be heard, understood, and integrated into a personalized recovery.

Applying the whole-person approach to recovery can individualize treatment for depression. The whole-person approach is based upon recognition of the unique components of an individual’s life and how these components interweave to and from the whole person.

The major components to the whole-person approach are emotional, environmental, relational, physical, and spiritual. Together, these components provide keys to why a persona is depressed, and they can open a doorway to his or her recovery.

Emotional Influences

We are emotional beings, and we choose to acknowledge or express those emotions in outward forms. We are never far from our feelings and emotions. They trip us up when we are stressed or tired. They sneak up on us at unexpected moments. They support our expectations, fuel our disappointment, and energize our victories.

When depression settles into a person’s life, emotions become confused. A promotion at work may produce thoughts of despair and fear. Minor daily irritants can become major life hurdles. The joy of others can become a gloomy reminder of inner insecurities. Even if life appears to be going well, our emotional balance can become tilted toward depression, at the mercy of the dangerous balance act of anger, fear, shame, and guilt.

Environmental Influences

We live in a world where complexity greets us every morning. What are we going to wear? What are we going to eat? How are we going to get to work? Which tasks are we going to complete? What calls are we going to deal with first? Should we answer our cell phone, our home phone, respond to our email, reply to our voice mail, check and update our social networks—and in what order? From the moment we awake, the assault begins. We are overwhelmed. The assault demands a response, and retreating into depression can be hat response.

Relational Influences

We constantly use relationship to determine our position in life. We observe the world and people around us and make decisions about who we are based on how we believe others perceive us. We define our position by the people with whom we interact—online and off, which can be, and often are, two different dynamics altogether, as we tend to mask our real selves behind our virtual personas. We use this information to triangulate our state of well-being, factoring in what we’ve learned or observed in the past, a view of our present circumstances, and the potential outcome for our future.

Depending on our ability to reason truthfully, these relationships provide us with a sense of wee-being or foreboding. The uniqueness of our circumstances and your relationships can either help or hinder our ability to deal with these ever-present thoughts and emotions.

Physical Influences

In the past, the answer to a broken-down spirit was a pharmaceutical “fix” that relaxed the physical body. But as we learn more and more about brain science and depression, as well as the interworking of mind, body, and spirit, we are learning the potential exists for our bodies to act as partners in recovery instead of as opponents.

Spiritual Influences

Wrestling with questions or worth and purpose are spiritual issues. Who am I? What is my purpose? Where is joy? When will this be over? Why is this happening? How did I get this way? The spiritual component of a person’s life can provide direction toward both the right questions and the needed answers.

Whole-person healing has evolved over the last few decades to become an industry standard and highly esteemed approach to depression recovery. The Center • A Place of Hope continues to be a leader in whole-person treatment center for depression as well as for many other emotional and behavioral disorders. If you or a loved one is struggling with depression, The Center • A Place Of Hope can help. Call 1-888-771-5166 / 425-771-5166 or fill out our contact form and someone will be in touch with you soon.

The content of this post was derived from Gregory L. Jantz’s book Turning Your Down into Up.

The Power of Intentional Response: Positive Self Talk

If you know what it’s like to feel at the mercy of your mood, you may be pleasantly surprised to realize you have more power than you think. In fact, what you’re thinking is the very thing that can determine whether your mood turns good or bad.

Every day, we have experiences that illicit in us automatic emotional reactions. Sometimes they’re positive, like the way we react to a hug, a compliment, or a chat with a close friend. But sometimes they’re negative, like the way we react to dropping a glass on the kitchen floor, getting cut off on the freeway, or having a conflict with a colleague at work.

Considering that each of these negative examples are common occurrences we all experience now and then, the impact we allow them to have on our day may seem disproportionate. Why? Because these kinds of events trigger negative self-talk that reinforces core beliefs we have about ourselves, other people, and the way the world works:

“I can’t do anything right.”

“People are so inconsiderate.”

“I don’t get along with anyone.”

While you may have no control over thoughts that pop into your head, you do have control over the thoughts you choose to have in response:

“I choose to accept and grow from my mistakes.”

“I choose to forgive the mistakes of others.”

“I choose to accept others for who they are.”

Of course, it doesn’t take any notable event for negative self-talk to play in our brains all day long. For many of us, it’s ingrained. If this sounds familiar, you may want to try an exercise we use in depression therapy at A Place of Hope.

Make a list of all the negative messages you remember hearing throughout your life, and to whom these messages may be attributed. Then, for each negative message on the list, write down a counteracting positive statement.

Note, positive self-talk is not self-deception, as explained in my book, Turning Your Down Into Up: A Realistic Plan For Healing From Depression:

“Positive self-talk is not mentally looking at circumstances with eyes that see only what you want to see. The practice of positive self-talk is often the process that allows you to discover the obscured optimism, hope, and joy in any given situation.

“Positive self-talk is about recognizing the truth, in situations and in yourself. “

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