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Part 2: Intellectual Integrity and Depression Recovery

Just because you think you know something, doesn’t mean that something is true.  That something could be flat-out false.  That something could be partially true but lacking in full context.

In order to recovery from depression, you need to strive for intellectual integrity.  Integrity can be defined as adhering to a code of ethics, and that certainly is a good thing; but the integrity I mean here is a bit different.  Intellectual integrity is like structural integrity.  When something has structural integrity, there are no gaps or weaknesses to create instability.  When you believe something that isn’t the truth or is only partially true, you leave yourself open to gaps and weaknesses that undermine intellectual integrity.

One of the keys to overcoming depression is to honestly and realistically evaluate your life and determine whether what you think you know is really the truth.  As much as possible, develop a plan to accept those things that are unchangeable and a plan to change those that you can.

Please recognize, you may be reluctant to do this for fear that it will make you even more depressed.  Remaining tied to false truths and half-truths may seem more comforting that living life in the glare of intellectual honesty.  If you feel that way, aren’t you tired of living your life while feeling like a spectator instead of an active participant with the power to choose your own course?  Unless you take intentional action, chances are that circumstances won’t force a change to the positive.

It’s time to take control and look at where you are in your life.  It’s time to actively and intentionally participate in the course of your life, shoring up your intellectual integrity by understanding and accepting the truth of who you are.

  • If you have developed a pattern of tying self-worth to activity, you may find it difficult to let go of some of the things you are doing.
  • If you have developed a pattern of believing in your own incompetence, taking on new activities may frighten you with a potential for failure.
  • If you have developed a pattern of being afraid of making mistakes, an honest appraisal of why you are engaging in an activity may be uncomfortable, because of needed changes it might reveal.

In order to continue taking stock of your life, you will need to press on.  Don’t let any initial hesitation stop you from being honest with yourself.

Your perspective on life is based upon what you “know.”  These “truths” are often forged in childhood.  If what you “know” is framed in negativity, your perceptions and expectations may also be negative.  Another way to think of this “knowledge” is as a filter through which you view your life.  Some people who seem perennially happy are said to view life through rose-colored glasses. Their filter is weighted on the side of the positive.  In depression, life is viewed through gray-colored glasses.  Life appears negative, oppressive, and filled with shadows.

One of the main areas that may need to be changed in order to overcome depression is what you “know” about life:

  • If you “know” that life consistently treats you unfairly, then the inevitable ups and downs of life are filtered through that perception.  If you “know” that life is supposed to always be smooth sailing, the inevitable ups and downs can cause great anxiety.  Down times are not put into a proper perspective, because you don’t consider them to be legitimate.  Down times are supposed to happen to other people but not you.  If you’re unprepared to deal with these down times, confusion, frustration, and depression can result.
  • If you “know” that you don’t really deserve to be happy, you will filter the events of your life to make sure you aren’t.  Good things will be met with suspicion, and bad things will be accepted as inevitable.
  • If you “know” that the only way for you to be safe is to be in control, you will have a heightened sense of anxiety over life events.  Since people are rarely in total control over their environment and never in control of other people, this “knowledge” leaves a persistent, nagging feeling of insecurity.  This perpetual sense of unease can lead to anxiety and depression.

Life does not always flow smoothly.  Circumstances can alter the most carefully constructed life.  Traumatic events will be part of each of our lives.  That we cannot change.  What we can change, however, is our response to those traumatic events.  If the fundamental foundation for what we know about life is based on negativity, we will have little support when bad things happen.

But we can use intellectual integrity to identify and replace the false and incomplete truths we’ve been basing our lives on.  We can replace those false and incomplete truths with a more complete understanding of ourselves, our expectations, and just what the world is truly able to offer.

Making changes in your life requires a certain level of optimism.  If you find it difficult to be optimistic, consider working with a caring professional or counselor.  Oftentimes, when the process of evaluating your life activities is done with the help of others, their vantage point offers perspectives you hadn’t considered.  Borrow their optimism, hope, and joy, until you are able to generate those refreshing, renewing feelings on your own.

If you are struggling with depression, The Center • A Place of HOPE can help.  Call us at 1-888-771-5166 to speak confidentially with a specialist.

Being Intentional in Your Response to Depression

What do we do when life feels like it’s piling on top of us?  In depression, we bury our optimism, hope, and joy and react with anger, fear, or guilt, allowing overwhelming circumstances to knock us flat.  Emotional depression can become an automatic reaction to life’s trials.  Reactions are automatic, but responses need not be.  Depression does not have to be automatic.

Even if we may immediately react negatively, we can learn to intentionally reassert positive emotions.  This may not be our first reaction, but our first reaction doesn’t need to be our only response.  Albert Einstein once said, “You can’t solve a problem on the same level that it was created.  You have to rise above it to the next level.”  Our reactions are on one level, but we can learn to take our responses to the next level.

The next level above automatic reaction is intentional response.  You need to be intentional in your response to life and its circumstances.  You need to deliberately recognize, promote, and sustain optimism, hope, and joy.  In the midst of depression, the thought of sustaining even a modicum of positive feelings may appear overwhelming, a burden too heavy to bear.  But aren’t you already carrying around the weight of emotional baggage?  Think how much energy it takes to carry around anger, fear, and guilt.  When you begin to put those emotions down, you will find strength for optimism, hope, and joy.

Negative emotions may be part of your personal landscape.  If that is the case, you’ll need to intentionally seek out and rediscover optimism, hope, and joy.  Optimism, hope, and joy are responses that come from within you and are not necessarily derived from your outside circumstances.  Regardless of the circumstances, you determine to remain optimistic; you decide to have hope; you derive joy.

Intentionally choosing how to respond to life is not a trivial matter; this attitude can save your life.  In his book Man’s Search of Meaning, Holocaust survivor Viktor E. Frankl set forth to answer the question why some people lived through the Nazi Germany concentration camps and some did not.  He found that it rarely had anything to do with their physical state.  Some prisoners who were extremely debilitated or ill continued to live, while some others who were in much better physical shape died.  The difference, he found, was in their attitude to life.

Frankl discovered that in the final analysis, strength for living is found in the ability to choose your attitude — your response — to any given situation.  The situations he and others dealt with on a daily basis were deprivation, starvation, physical disease, and beatings.  Yet in the midst of the hell of the concentration camp, he and others intentionally chose to respond with optimism and hope.

Frankl, who could find positives in the midst of a Nazi concentration camp, demonstrates that each of us has the opportunity to find positives in our own situations.  We will not always have control over our circumstances, but we can determine to hold on to optimism, hope, and joy — to recognize them, promote them, and sustain them.  This is the challenge for those who are depressed.

Dr. Gregory Jantz is the founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE  and author of 30 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.

Managing Your Time

What do you think of when you hear the phrase time management?  If you are a go-getter, you may hear those words and think of how many tasks you can cram into a single day.  However, I didn’t say task management; I said time management.

Healthy time management, meant to reduce stress and increase quality of life, includes more than merely scheduling tasks.  Time management means incorporating times to accomplish tasks, yes, but also times of rest, reflection, recreation, and communication.  Each of these is needed daily to advance priorities and goals.

If you are a stay-putter, you may hear “time management” and think of how impossible it is for you to get anything done, no matter how much time you have.  For you, time management means incorporating effort, progress, completion, and accomplishment into each day in order to advance priorities and goals.

Time — no matter how much of it you have — needs to be harnessed and controlled: each morning (or even the night before), decide what you goals and priorities are for the day.  If the day is a word day, then arriving to work on time and being ready to actively participate are going to be main priorities.

However, most people don’t work sixteen-hour days, so there will be hours in each day for other activities.  Decide ahead of time what those activities should be based upon what you want to accomplish as well as on the type of person you want to be.

For example, as you’re on your way to work, you might decide to listen to music or an informative or informational podcast.  You might decide to spend the time in quiet reflection, meditation, or prayer, depending upon your mode of transport.  At lunch, you might send a quick text, or place a quick call, to a friend or family member.  On your way home, you might catch up on the news and take time to disconnect from your workday.  If you don’t intentionally plan your day, your day will plan you.

If the day is not a workday, then you will have more time to harness and manage.  There is a danger in thinking that you have all the time in the world over the weekend, but how many Sundays (or the equivalent) have you gone to bed, realizing that you didn’t get done half of what you wanted.  Instead of being satisfied with the goals accomplished, you’re distressed about tasks left undone.  Now not only do you have the week ahead, but you’re also playing catch-up from the week just ended.

When it comes to time management, the challenge for go-getters is to balance time with reflection.  The challenge for stay-putters is to balance time with achievement.

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.

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.

 

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.

 

Clinical Depression on the Rise in Children and Teens

It’s fairly typical for children and teens to experience bouts of sadness and mood swings. However, clinical depression, a serious form of depression that affects most or all aspects of a sufferer’s life, is increasing among children and teens. It is believed that as many as five percent of people under the age of 18 suffer from clinical depression during their childhood or teen years, a significant increase from just 20 or 30 years ago.

Children and teens suffering from clinical depression, which can be caused by a chemical imbalance, a traumatic event or physical health issues, often exhibit several of the following symptoms:

  • Irritability or anger
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Incessant feelings of sadness, hopelessness
  • Increased anxiety, tension or panic
  • Pessimism
  • Vocal outbursts or crying
  • Social withdrawal
  • Loss of interest in activities at home or with friends, in school, extracurricular activities and in other hobbies or interests
  • Heightened sensitivity to rejection
  • Significant increases or decreases in appetite
  • Noticeable changes in sleep habits — insomnia or excessive sleep
  • Fatigue and sluggishness
  • Restlessness, agitation and increased fidgeting
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Self-harm such as cutting or taking excessive physical risks
  • Suicidal thoughts

If your child or teen is showing multiple symptoms of depression, we highly encourage you to seek help, as depression is easily treatable. At a Place of Hope, we offer whole-person treatment in depression, meaning we provide emotional, physical, spiritual and nutritional treatment for complete healing. To find out more about our childhood depression treatment program, please contact us today.