Just Singing the Blues?

Grief is expected and a matter of fact with infertility and loss. It comes with every emotion under heaven from peaceful acceptance to anger to sadness so deep that few can understand.

But grief can easily turn to a depression that incapacitates. Clinical depression. And that is a situation that needs more than just time and healing to resolve. Clinical depression will often need medication to assist and oftentimes, counseling as well.

At the outset, it must be stated that there is no shame in clinical depression. Studies can show that trauma, loss, and stress can reduce the chemicals in our brain, such as serotonin, and this can lead to depression. It is not always a matter of more faith, more Bible, or more prayer. It is, quite literally, a physical and medical issue, especially after times of intense grief. The body is so wonderful and fragile that emotional angst can often cause a “wounding,” so to speak, of the entire physical system.  That includes the chemicals that help balance mood, as explained in more detail in the video below.

http://www.youtube.com/embed/HryOhK4E7aU

When is it just part of the normal cycle of sadness, and when is it a depression, in need of some medical help? The line can be blurry but there can still be some telling factors.

Typical Sadness

Clinical Depression

While profound and constant in the immediate time   following the loss, it will ebb and wane as the different stages within the grief cycle, are experienced.

Never lets up. It remains a constant despair that last for months after the loss has occurred.

Will have moments in which “normal” shines   through. Often women will state, “I was surprised to find I was actually   laughing. . . “ or “I forgot for a few minutes and felt happy.” This is the   normal cycle of grief, not fully being gone but losing its deep, lingering effects on all areas of life.

A   lack of any moments of happiness. Full blown clinical depression can be identified by the absence of any joy or bright moment whatsoever.

Comes with hope. The hope and the belief that it will get easier with time.

Comes with hopelessness.  Much more than a feeling, it becomes an actual belief that it will always be this painful and this horrible forever.

Cannot be helped by medication. This does not mean   that it can’t disappear by a numbing that comes with pills, but this is not “help”. This is a numbing denial, the same of which alcohol or other   addictions would do. True help is not numbing. True help produces a return to normalcy.

Will respond to medication. When dosed properly, these medications will help an individual find their way back to an even-keel way of thinking and feeling.   Hopeless despair will have an honest grip on reality, but not in such a way as to be impossible to deal with.

Still allows an enjoyment of hobbies and liked   activities. In fact many will find themselves comforted by the routine of doing that which they love.

A total loss of enjoyment as well as a loss of desire in that which once gave fulfillment. Not only will the activity seem joyless, but to even attempt to do it will be like wading through a deep, thick mud.

Has moments of wishing to join the lost baby or child but will quickly have a reality check that there are loved ones and a life purpose to keep on living for.

Becomes consumed with thoughts of suicide and even having people to love or a life passion is not enough to  vanquish these thoughts.

Clinical depression and grief can often run co-current in areas such as sleep (sleeping too much or unable to sleep at all) and eating and weight (eating and gaining in excess or not eating and losing in excess) but grief will eventually find itself back into normal, whereas with depression, these areas will continue to not only remain the same, but often deteriorate to a point of medical risk to the individual.

Steps to take if depression is suspected:

~ Call your Doctor immediately. Most Doctors will take a phone call of this nature exceptionally seriously and may even issue a prescription right over the phone to be started immediately, while asking for an in-person visit within the month. If, in the rare instant, you have a Doctor who does not take this seriously, look for a new Doctor. If you don’t have the energy to do such a thing at this point in your life, enlist the help of someone close to you.

~ Take the medication prescribed as soon as possible, take as prescribed, and do not self-medicate. If any issues arise with the medication, call your Doctor. Attempting to find your own correct dosage can result in a depression even worse than the one that sent you for help.

~ Take the medication regularly. Skipped doses means the chemicals that it affects will fluctuate, again, causing worse problems than before.

(NOTE: There are two main types of medications: SSRI’s and MAOI’s. Refer to above video for the difference in each)

~ Seek professional counseling as an additional healing resource. So often, talking through the grief and loss will facilitate the healing needed so that the body can then heal itself as well.

Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. Proverbs 11:14

~ Seek out a support network. Don’t go this alone. While you don’t have to tell an entire community of your struggles, the best thing you can do is confide in your inner circle of your struggle and allow them to support you emotionally and with prayer as you work through this.

And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 1 Thessalonians 5:14

If you are comfortable sharing with others, find a support group, such as our Perfect Joy Support Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/perfectjoy/ in which to gain encouragement and insight and also allow yourself to do the same for others.  The Bible encourages us to support each other.  We not only receive a blessing from Him for obedience, but we also find that as we take our eyes off of our own problems and help carry someone else’s burdens, ours becomes lighter.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

~ Do not use the medication as a crutch. This can be very (very) tempting to do. The medication is not your healing. The medication is simply a tool making the way for healing to take place. If the medication has you numbed-up to the point of not feeling any emotions, good or bad, then it’s too much. The goal is not to be numbed up and avoid the pain of grief. The goal is to have an aid as the grief is worked through, keeping it from becoming a debilitating depression.

A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls. Proverbs 25:28

~ Seek a normal routine of life. Go to bed at a regular time get up at a regular time. Too much or not enough sleep can both exacerbate depression.  Remember that God is in control of all things, and He never “takes breaks” or sleeps.  He is always watching, always caring, and always protecting.

Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. Psalm 121:4

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. Psalm 127:1-2

~ It is crucial to not lose yourself in books and TV and movies, as this will often lend to a denial and numbing process.  The goal, again, is not avoidance, but simply to have help managing this period of grief in your life.

~ Stay in the Word. This can not be stressed enough. The Word of God is alive and in it’s life giving power it heals and soothes, comforts and strengthens. Don’t assume that because you can’t seem to gain anything from what you read, it’s not doing it’s work in you life. Just as we cannot see or fully feel digestion or comprehend how it results in physical energy, so with the Word of God. It becomes a part of our grieving hearts whether we are aware of the process or not.

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4

Additional Verses to Ponder:

Lamentations 3

2 Peter 1:5-7

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.

Psalm 42:5 (Psalm 42:11; 43:5)

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Psalm 34:18 (Psalm 147:3)

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

Proverbs 18:14

A man’s spirit will endure sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?

Original material by Melissa J Carswell, MA, BCCC.  Holly M Besser.  Perfect Joy Ministries ©2012. May not be used or re-printed without permission.  bsbp21p01-15-13

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