How To Avoid Depression

How To Avoid Depression

Keep Thy Heart With All Diligence

The above title is from a great verse found in the Bible, urging us to be very careful as to what we allow into our lives whether it be through the ear or the eye. Having said that there are still things that happen to us that put us into a downward spiral even if we have been careful to avoid the negativity that is so prevalent today. Right up front, we are not saying that this post will keep everyone from all depression ALL of the time. These are just a few ideas that you will find helpful.  Let’s get started. Be wary of social media, prime-time television, the evening news, and negative people, specifically those who are scornful (Those who express contempt and derision).

To break these down many experts are finding that there is an increase in depression with an increase of social media use. There has even been a new term coined called Facebook Depression which describes the negative aspects of large amounts of time on different media. {Anxiety and Depression Association of America} See Dr. Jeff Nalin’s blog. Teens are especially vulnerable to cyberbullying and have even been known to have such a low self-worth that after being bullied they take their own lives! Then it is true also true that many will spend hours on their phones and miss out on proper social interaction with their parents and friends.

Primetime television will suck the life out of one’s soul if you will let it. I am going to date myself here by saying I enjoyed watching the Archie Bunker Show. But to be brutally honest it taught me to despise people, criticize others whom I did not like and tended to make the watchers of the show extremely self-righteous and judgemental. We began to identify with Archie and that my friend is a dangerous thing! Cheers! is a show I never got into and if the mention of that makes you bristle then you need to ask yourself what kind of edifying conversations can come from a show that is featuring drunk people at a bar? There is low brow humor galore to keep you hooked but the end result is a shallow “me first” philosophy of life. The Jerry Springer show was once almost off of the air and the producers told Jerry to get the ratings up no matter what it took and Viola! we have Trash TV, complete with off-duty Chicago police officers to break up the fights that the audience came to see. This type of drivel only causes one to despair at humanity and the downward spiral society is in.

The evening news can be overwhelming too. I understand that it reports the “news” around the world but it is usually full of the murders that took place that day or the latest terror attack. Remember positive events do not usually get Neilson ratings up. I DO care about other parts of the world but the constant barrage of horror that others are enduring overwhelms us and is depressing or we just come to the point that we don’t care anymore.

Negative people are the hardest to avoid because we may have to interact with them every day at the workplace or school. But ask yourself, “Do I have to listen to this stream of gossip, bile, or hatred as the other person wants me to?” I was once talking with Brother Doug Fisher and he said when the conversation turns so as to criticize others he politely excuses himself with a valid reason. Those reasons may include: “I need to get a drink of water. ” or “I need to make a phone call.” or “I need to flush my ears out.”

Be Proactive Against Depression!

How in the world can one be proactive against depression? Isn’t it true that I am doomed to an endless cycle of mood swings, trips to the doctor to alter my meds, and another session of therapy? NO! The following suggestions are not a cure-all but I strongly believe we can do something to fight back when we feel the onset of a depressive cycle. It is now October in Michigan and endless sunny days of riding the bike down to the park to play with the kids are coming to an end. Instead, we are being met with the cold, rainy, and rather gloomy weather which will eventually turn into snow! There I said it! The word snow is treated as a cuss (or curse) word to many. I have already heard a man who is manic depressive mourn that he was sure that SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) was just around the corner lurking for him. With that type of attitude, he will surely help with a negative self-fulfilling prophecy in his life.

While it is true we cannot all board a jet for a trip to the Bahamas we can make the best of the situation we find ourselves in. First, talk about it with someone you can trust and begin to plan to be with people when you are tempted to despair. Don’t go it alone please! The worst thing you can do is to isolate yourself when sad or depressed. Secondly, being a man of faith I get out a list of Bible verses that remind me of God’s great love and care for me. Some of these are: “Fear thou not, be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; Yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Isaiah 41:10 To be dismayed is similar to depression. Take it personally when He says that He is your God! He is your personal God and you must take that promise and believe it with all of your heart! Further, He says He will Strengthen, help, and even uphold thee! Those are some wonderful promises that you can take to the bank of heaven.

Another verse that has encouraged me is in the Gospel of John. We read, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27 When I read MY peace I give unto you that means so much! The Lord Jesus has perfect peace and He promises to give us that peace? Friend, that is out of this world! It is a supernatural peace that passes all understanding! (see Philippians 4:6,7) Also, note that is NOT what the world will give you for peace, a temporary, fleeting, shallow peace brought on by pills or booze. The key to these verses giving us help is to not read them from an intellectual perspective but to personalize them. Picture, if you will the Lord Jesus sitting down next to you and saying, “I know you are having an anxiety episode (or) I know you are very depressed and no one seems to care, but I want you to know, …” Then you let Him minister to you with these verses.

Some more verses are: For God hath given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7  I also like a verse found in Joshua. “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee withersoever thou goest. Joshua 1:9

The problem with these verses is….wait….there is no problem. We have become too familiar with them and quote them without realizing we are looking at the very promises of God unto His children. I have had many a troubled night turned into a time of peace and then praise as I have reflected upon the precious promises of God. There will be other blogs on depression coming soon. It is such a scourge that Satan is using against the child of God and holding many in bondage. Please feel free to comment and suggest topics related to depression or anxiety or just share your story. I am listening and I care.

Suffering From Depression

Suffering From Depression

Depression is nothing to be ashamed of and it is far more common than most people think. I wanted to be sure and start off making that statement for two reasons, first if you are suffering from depression or anxiety attacks I want you to know you will not be judged or shamed into “getting better”  by me in this blog post. Really… who wants that anyway? You may be desperate for help but  have had so many shallow attempts at help from those who have not taken the time to listen to you, that you are leery at the next offer. The second reason is if you are a “normal” person searching for help for a friend I do not want you to get ammunition to misuse against your loved one to “fix” them with a one size fits all solution. There are many reasons people suffer from depression, bi polar disorder or have had panic attacks and I am asking that we listen much and speak little when helping others. It just may be that you and I do not know the whole story! There are many symptoms of depression and we should be on the lookout to help our loved ones get the help they need. The American Psychiatric Association defines depression as: “Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.” (from It is estimated that 16.2 million adults in the United States or 6.7 % of adults have had at least one major depressive episode in a given year. Friend, you are not alone in this! This problem especially affects the Hollywood elite, mainly because they have a distorted world view that encourages vanity and living for self which can never satisfy. There are many recent tragic deaths or overdoses that have claimed the lives of the rich and famous. People like Robin Williams, John Belushi, and Chris Farley have self destructed right before our eyes from their wrong approach to life resulting in an untimely death from drugs or suicide.

Depression: One Size Does Not Fit All

As I counsel people who are suffering I am aware that there are many reasons a person may suffer from depression. I know of many who have experienced the loss of a loved one and miss them terribly. The anniversary of their death or the birthday of the loved one is a day of grief and sadness.  Especially hard is the death of an infant through a stillbirth or SIDS. Maybe there was a terrible accident that you feel is your fault. I know of a few who suffer from survivor’s guilt. They have had people die next to them and wonder why they were left behind, wishing they had been the one who was taken in the tragedy. It is important to find a friend who will listen carefully and not be quick to pass judgment.

I remember one man in particular who was beaten mercilessly by his father and then was told, “I wish the boy down the road was my son and not you!” Sidenote: Please never quote the old proverb. “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.” That is a bold-faced lie. Nothing could be further from the truth! His depression led into extreme bitterness and affected his whole family. This, in turn, led into paranoia and stuttering. Being abused physically is a cruel burden to bear.

I recall another man who was repeatedly raped as a young boy by two gay uncles. He was severely depressed and sixty years later he was still drinking himself into oblivion every day so he does not have to deal with the memories. Sexual abuse causes depression, especially if the abused is a minor. He once told me God did not care about him and had no use for him. Being abused sexually is a cruel burden to bear. This is one of the most extreme forms of abuse that will deal a crippling blow to the youngster (or adult) who experiences this.

It may be that your family may have been involved in the occult i.e. Ouija boards, bloody mary, seances, or reading Harry Potter or Stephen King books. I am intimately familiar with a mother who did palm readings, attended seances and visited a fortune teller. The spirits she summoned did great harm to one of her daughters who had severe depression leading to suicidal thoughts. Please see my blog, “THE WARFARE AROUND YOU”. Also for a thorough treatment of the subject please read, “Demons In The World Around You”, by Merrill F. Unger. Depression as a result of exposure to the occult is a cruel burden to bear! I would implore you that the Lord Jesus can set even these precious people free. If you are suffering from post occult depression please contact me. If you are in the mid-Michigan area we can meet. If you are out of state I know where you can get help. Don’t play with this stuff!

There are thousands of our returning veterans who suffer from PTSD. This is a unique form of depression that results in flashbacks to the battle field, sudden outbursts of anger, withdrawal from loved ones, or prolonged periods of extreme sadness. Preventing suicide among veterans is fast becoming a priority in the world of mental health. I have served sixteen years in the United States NAVY but I have never been under live fire or had to kill any one in combat, but for those that have it may seem to them like a reoccurring nightmare that haunts them when they close their eyes or try to get a good night of sleep.  The counseling that is needed for our wounded warriors is time consuming and sensitive but oh so needed! Many times the wounded warrior will not open up about PTSD unless the counselor is another veteran who has experienced taking a life or been pinned down in a firefight. My eyes were opened when I received my PTSD Level 1 Training certificate from the Wounded Spirits Institute. We must understand this and give them the time and love they need. They need to know that others vets have received help and that there is hope for them too. Depression as a result of PTSD is a cruel burden to bear!

Then there is social media. Dare I go there? I will. Recent studies have shown a correlation between screen time and depression. Teens are especially susceptible to this type of depression because they are continually exposed to the lives of the rich and famous and feel they have to keep up which is impossible. Then there is the huge problem with online bullying and inane things like facebook fights. People get so attached to fb that they even say, “Good Morning facebook!” or at the end of the day they will  sign off with, “Good Night Facebook!” As I read these type of things I think of how silly it is but for the addict, it is their virtual reality! My wife and I have determined that our children will not get a cell phone until they are eighteen. This is not child abuse. They will learn to read whole books, play an instrument, play outside, exercise, have eye contact with others and not busy themselves with playing Candy Crush.  There has even been a new medical/psychological term coined by the name of  “digital dementia” which refers to the decreased capacity to think or process thoughts normally. Another term is “digital zombie” , which the Executive Chairman of Google Eric Schmidt is worried about. You may ask why I am posting this on the internet then. Isn’t that hypocritical? No. My theory is that I do not like that fact that so many are surfing from one site to the other for most of their day, but if they do live online then they are going to meet me there with good content. After they have gotten the help they need they ought to get outside, feel the sunshine, walk the dog or ride a bike! 

Men and Depression

Ok men, if you are like me in the least you are a little nervous to even read this portion of the blog post. I mean aren’t only weak people subject to depression? Men, please do not forget what I said at the opening of this post, “Depression is nothing to be ashamed of and is far more common then we think.” I too have suffered from depression and anxiety. I had some bad news in the middle of 2016 and again at the beginning of 2017 which threw my world into a tail spin and it took me several months to pray through it. Only my wife knew the extreme depths of sorrow I experienced and I am thankful she was my confidant and stay, humanly speaking. By the grace of God the Lord brought me back into a calm mindset and He has deepened my message as a result. I am a pastor and I do not view my world as purely organic. “What in the world are you saying, Brother Whalen?” By that I mean I believe very strongly in the supernatural unseen world around us. (Please see article, The Warfare Around You.) We must also understand that some mental illness is organic, (i.e. physical)  Back to the spiritual: There is a devil who hates you and will feed you lies if you care to listen to him. Many thoughts that people have are dark in nature and they try to push them away with little or no success. To try to do this is about as effective as using a flashlight with no battery to light up a dark room. Only light can conquer darkness! “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” Psalm 119:130 If we combat the dark with the light of God’s word we will experience victory! There will still be a need for a godly mentor and counseling but the Bible promises, if we meditate “day and night…he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. Psalm 1:2,3 (More to follow. Leave a comment and add to the discussion.)