Defeat Depression & Insomnia

Learn how to defeat depression and insomnia from someone who's been there ...

Emotional Support

Emotional support is important to enabling you to improve your overall health, especially if you're dealing with a disease such as depression or diabetes. There are many ways to obtain emotional support when you're dealing with problems such as depression, insomnia, or any disease for that matter.  Some of those ways include:

  • Joining a support group locally or online
  • Confiding in a friend
  • Tapping into your Inner Spirit
  • Getting quality sleep
  • Stress management
  • Daily exercise
  • Helping someone else

Life's 3 Problems

Throughout our lives we all face hundreds of problems (or challenges). But, the good news is that when you really look at it, there are only 3 major problems in life:

1. Financial (Wealth)
2. Physical (Health)
3. Relational (Relationships)

That's it! And, once you realize this, it will be easier to develop an action plan to achieve success.

Financial (Lack of Wealth) Problems
Unless you were born with rich parents or somehow became a millionaire at a young age, then, you will struggle financially at one time or another during your life.

Physical (Health) Problems
Unless you were blessed with good genes or ate healthy foods most of your life, then, you will struggle with your health at one time or another during your life.

Relational (Relationship) Problems
Unless you lived in isolation as a hermit or somehow found your soul-mate, then, you will struggle with one or more relationships -- with a family member, a friend, a co-worker, a partner, or someone you haven't met yet.

In order to be successful in life, we have to overcome many problems in life with our jobs, our careers, our families, education, finding the time, not having enough money, our health, etc.

We tend to believe that we have too many problems in life to overcome. But, in reality, you now realize there are only 3 problems! 

How to Solve Any Problem

And, I have even better news! You can solve any problem by having faith and following a structured process:

 Approach the problem with clarity. Evaluate your entire situation so that you can see the big picture and determine your current state.  This is the first and most important component to problem solving.  The first step is always to approach any problem  in a clear and logical manner, even if under time constraints or pressure.

Understand the problem. Once you're appropriately focused, you need to run through the problem. What are the components of the issue? What aspects are vital to a solution and which are extraneous? Once you've broken down a problem into its vital aspects, sort through any cause and effect relationships or patterns and cycles at work. Basically, you want to have a good grasp of what is going on.

Analyze the problem. Break the problem down into simpler components and analyze the cause and effect relationships that triggered the problem. Make sure that you have exhausted all possibilities.

Plan a strategy. After you have a good grasp of the problem, begin to plan out a solution.Consider what steps must be taken to achieve said result.

Execute your strategy. Once you've outlined logical steps toward your desired result, execute! If you are dealing with an issue such that conditions change upon execution, don't be afraid to reevaluate your strategy and make changes.  Track your results.

Evaluate the results. Upon seeing your plan through, evaluate the result. Optimally, you successfully tackled the dilemma. However, if the results you expect were not achieved, consider your approach and make changes if necessary.

Continue to evaluate and execute
. Several attempts may be necessary to solve the problem. Each time, however, keep in mind logic, clarity, focus and metrics. These are the elements that ultimately lead to resolution. Even if you are checked by failure, clear thinking usually leads to a successful resolution -- if you faith and believe!.

Insomnia problems include: you can’t get to sleep; you wake up in the middle of the night, and can’t go back to sleep; and, waking up too early, between 3:00 and 5:00 a.m., and you can’t get back to sleep.

Common causes of insomnia include poor eating habits, too much caffeine, too much alcohol, too much tobacco, nutritional deficiencies, blood glucose imbalances, physical pain, improper breathing, anxiety, stress, depression, and the lack of exercise.

Stress

If you’re living with high levels of stress, you’re putting your entire well-being at risk. Stress wreaks havoc on your emotional equilibrium, as well as your physical health. It narrows your ability to think clearly, function effectively, and enjoy life.

The goal of stress management is to bring your mind and body back into balance. By adopting a positive attitude, learning healthier ways to cope, and changing the way you deal with stress, you can reduce its hold on your life.    

Taking Care of Stress

In our frenetic, fast-paced world, many people deal with frequent or even constant stress. The overextended working mother, the hard-charging “Type A” personality, the self-critical perfectionist, the chronic worrier: they’re always wound up, always stretched to the breaking point, always rushing around in a frenzy or juggling too many demands.

Operating on daily red alert comes at the high price of your health, vitality, and peace of mind. But while it may seem that there’s nothing you can do about your stress level—the bills aren’t going to stop coming, there will never be more hours in the day for all your errands, your career will always be demanding—you have a lot more control than you might think. In fact, the simple realization that you’re in control of your life is the foundation of stress management.

Managing stress is all about taking charge: taking charge of your thoughts, your emotions, your schedule, your environment, and the way you deal with problems. The ultimate goal is a balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation, and fun —and the resilience to hold up under pressure and meet challenges head on.

Healthy Stress Reducers

Here are some simple stress reducers.

•      Go for a walk.                                              Play with a pet.

•      Spend time in nature.                                   Work in your garden.

•      Talk to a supportive friend.                          Get a massage.

•      Sweat out tension with a good workout.       Curl up with a good book.

•      Do something for someone else.                  Take a yoga class.

•      Write in your journal.                                    Listen to music.

•      Take a long bath.                                         Watch a comedy.

 

Sleeping Tips
Getting enough quality is critical to your health. In order to improve the quality of your sleep, here are some tips to help you:  

  • Establish a consistent a regular daily routine and bedtime ritual, e.g. the same meal times, the same bedtime, the same pre-bed activities.
  • Keep your bedroom cool and well ventilated. Maintain a relaxing atmosphere in the bedroom.
  • Try an herbal drink with magnesium and calcium to help relax you. Do not eat (especially processed grain and sugar carbohydrates) less than 2 hours before going to bed. These foods raise your blood glucose and inhibit sleep. Later, when your blood glucose drops too low, you may wake up and not be able to go back to sleep.
  • Reduce your caffeine intake and avoid it altogether four to six hours before bedtime. Reduce your intake of alcohol, tobacco, and other stimulants especially in the evenings.
  • Eat a handful of walnuts or drink a glass of warm milk or a cup of chamomile or fennel tea to soothe your nervous system 15-20 minutes before going to bed.
  • Take a hot bath 2 hours before bedtime -- it increases your core body temperature, and when it abruptly drops when you get out of the bath, it signals your body that you are ready for sleep.
  • Ensure you have a quality firm bed that properly supports your body’s frame and a quality pillow to properly support your neck.
  • Try to sleep in complete darkness or as close as possible. When light hits the eyes, it disrupts the circadian rhythm of the pineal gland and the production of melatonin and serotonin.
  • Note: The body operates on the 24-hour cycle (12 on, and 12 off), which is called “Circadian Rhythms”. When it gets dark, the body clock stimulates the pineal gland, which produces melatonin to enable sleep. Bright light or sunshine shuts off melatonin production and inhibits sleep, causing insomnia.
  • Sleep on your back – it’s the best position for relaxing, and allows all your internal organs to rest properly. If you must sleep on your side, do it on your right side, not your left. Sleeping on the left side causes your lungs, stomach and liver to press against your heart. If possible, do not sleep on your stomach. It causes pressure on all your internal organs including your lungs, which results in shallow breathing. It can also cause a stiff neck and upper back problems.
  • Try to avoid watching too much TV just before going to bed. TV is too stimulating to the brain and it will take longer to fall asleep.
  • Listen to calm music, or read something spiritual to help to relax. Do not read anything stimulating, such as a mystery or suspense novel.
  • If possible, avoid using a loud alarm clock, which can be very stressful on the body when it is awoken suddenly. If you are getting enough sleep, an alarm clock should not be necessary.

 

Spiritual Health

A depressive disorder involves the body, mind, and spirit, and affects your mood and thoughts. People who are depressed cannot "snap out of it" and get better. Since depression affects the Body, Mind and Spirit, then, the solution must encompass the Body, Mind and Spirit.

The Body, Mind and Spirit work in harmony to make you the best that you can be in this life. If one of these three elements is “sick” or out of balance with the other two, then, your entire being will be sick.

Unfortunately, most of traditional medicine focuses on the Body by addressing and suppressing the symptoms and never fixing the underlying root cause of the unhealthy cells. Traditional medicine tends to overlook the importance of the Mind and the Spirit and its role in healing the Body. Man also tends to focus on the Body by taking drugs to relieve pain or by feeding his food cravings to satisfy hormonal hunger – both of which may be driven by emotions such as depression. 

If you accept the fact that we live in a spiritual universe and that we are all spiritual beings, you will find yourself equipped with an instrument through which you can exert influence over your body and your blood glucose control.

But, how do you go about tapping into your inner spirit and belief system?  Anything and everything is possible if you have faith and you take responsibility of your health problems and follow up with the necessary actions; and, resist the negative influences that will discourage you from making yourself a healthier person.

Unfortunately, many people put their faith in man's drugs instead of the foods that were created by God. And, as long as we continue to believe that man is smarter than God, we will be trapped with poor health and our dependency on these man-made foods and drugs. So, become a victor of wellness, instead of a victim of disease.

Spiritual health allows you to focus on your inner faith and the belief that you must respect and protect what you put into your body to maintain a healthy balance with the mind and spirit. This supports Apostle Paul’s requirement to glorify God in our body, as well as our spirit:

Please Note: Improving your "spiritual health", or using your "spirituality",  or tapping into your "inner spirit" is a lot different than being "religious". Utilizing your "inner spirit" or "spirituality" requires more accountability on your part; and, more importantly, it requires that you actually educate yourself and take action to improve your health, i.e. eating healthy foods, stop eating processed foods, exercise every day. Too many "religious" people rant and rave about God this and God that, but they fail to take responsibility and accountability for themselves. They sit around praising God and waiting on God, when God has already given them the necessary tools to live a better life.

Unfortunately, there is hypocrisy in the church because some people in the church profess to be Christians but they aren't! There are some people on the Internet who write these very long posts preaching loudly about the importance of God while promoting themselves. But, they are not accountable or responsible and won't take any real action to help the less fortunate. Sure, they talk about helping, but, they fail to follow through and help their fellow man. 

In the meantime, they continue to poison their bodies by eating at McDonald's or KFC, wondering why they have diabetes, high blood pressure, or some other disease!

“Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost . . . therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”  [1 Corinthians 6:19-20]

 

        

Dealing with Depression God's Way

The Bible teaches that depression is not caused by the circumstances of our lives, but rather by our unbiblical reactions to those circumstances (with the exception of certain physical problems and brain disorders which we will deal with in a moment). This can be proven both biblically and by observation. Examples, such as the difference between the way Judas and Peter handled their sins, abound in Scripture. In everyday life we see people become bitter and constantly depressed over a crippling accident; then we see people like Joni Erickson Tada who ultimately are able to use such a situation as a stepping stone to growth — the difference is in the reactions.

Unfortunately, the depressed person has usually not made one unbiblical response to his problems, instead he has usually made a whole series of them, thus complicating the recovery process. Inappropriate thinking results in irresponsible behavior, which increases depression, which in turn stimulates more inappropriate thinking. . . ("His own iniquities will capture the wicked, and he will be held with the cords of his sin." Prov. 5:22).

In other words, depression often stems from a downward cycle in which we begin with a problem, react to it in a sinful way, causing a complication of the problem which is met by an additional sinful response, etc. As we will see later, this cycle must be stopped and an upward cycle of biblical responses must be started.

Some of the General Causes of Depression
Physical Problems
Some may suffer from depression as a result of brain damage or some other type of disease. Others may have been diagnosed with a chemical imbalance, and while we must leave room for this possibility, we do not believe that it is nearly as common as many people think. The chemical imbalance theory has reached fad proportions at present with the result that the leading method of therapy for depressed people is drugs.
 
When a person is diagnosed as having a chemical imbalance, he should ask this question (suggested by Dr. Bob Smith, a Christian physician who is also heavily involved in biblical counseling): "Which chemical and how far out of balance is it?" In most cases the answer will be, "We don’t know." Such an answer from the medical community should certainly give the believer much to consider.

Instead of teaching people how to handle their problems, too often we simply cover these problems up with drugs. For an interesting article on depression from a secular point of view see U.S. News and World Report, March 5, 1990, "Beating Depression," pp48-56. This article devotes itself to "a new generation of drugs (that) allows a sophistication and flexibility in treatment that was not possible in the past."

While the use of drugs to treat depression may be the best the unsaved world can offer, fortunately the Christian has other resources. With this in mind, it certainly would be wise to use drugs as a last resort, not the first resort. We should begin by carefully examining the thoughts and actions in our lives that might be at the root of our problem. E. Fuller Torrey (a research psychiatrist, who would not agree with our position on psychology) nevertheless, admits that about 5% of those who come to a psychiatrist are people with organic or brain disease, about 75% are people with problems with living, and the other 20% will require closer examination to make a final judgment (How to Counsel from Scripture, p4). Having said all of this, we would still recommend a thorough physical examination for a person who struggles with deep depression.

Physical and/ or emotional fatigue as well as poor eating habits may also be a factor. In I Kings 19 Elijah’s primary cause of depression appears to have been because of fatigue, etc. God’s initial therapy for Elijah was food and sleep (verses 5-8). Later God helped Elijah get his eyes off himself and on to God (who revealed His sovereignty, verses 11 and 13). Then, He had Elijah take a realistic look at life (verse 18), and finally He got His prophet to once again get involved in ministry (verses 15-19). The whole process took several weeks.

The example of Elijah is one the depressed person should study, for — like this great man of God — depressed people are often focusing on themselves instead of God and others. This focus is often distorted further by fatigue and poor diet. The remedy is often a refocusing of our attention, as well as rest and proper eating habits.

Guilt
Psalms 32, 38 and 51 all describe the depressions of a guilty man. (Note Psalms 32:3-5: "When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. I acknowledged my sin to Thee, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord;’ and Thou didst forgive the guilt of my sin.") Some believe that the number one cause of depression is unresolved guilt. Often this guilt may stem from sins of years ago in which God’s forgiveness has either never been sought or accepted. If guilt is not resolved by confession of sin (I John 1:9), depression is the natural result. Christians should not expect to willfully practice sin without facing consequences, one of which may be depression.

An Unbiblical Perspective on Life
In Psalm 73 Asaph was depressed over the prosperity of the wicked. He felt that he had lived righteously in vain while the ungodly had life on easy street. (Ps. 73:12,13: "Behold, these are the wicked; and always at ease, they have increased in wealth. Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure, and washed my hands in innocence.") It was not until he saw life from God’s point of view (the biblical perspective) that he was able to pull out of his depression. (Ps. 73:16,17: "When I pondered to understand this, it was troublesome in my sight until I came into the sanctuary of God; then I perceived their end.") In a world of confusion an unbiblical perspective on life has to be one of the major causes of depression.

Living by the Wrong Priorities
Ask almost any Christian what the priorities are in his life and he will say: God, family and work (and in that order). Yet in many cases our priorities are controlled by the "tyranny of the urgent" — whatever makes the most noise in our lives gets the most attention.

As a result, we may find our time dominated by working, running the kids around, keeping up the house, furthering our education or developing our hobbies, etc. While these are all good and necessary things it often leaves us precious little time to spend with God or family. The day will inevitably come when our cisterns will run dry(Jere. 2:13, "For my people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water"), and we will face "burnout," "midlife crisis," the "seven year itch," or whatever. Sadly, we probably will not even know the true core of the problem.

However, the actual problem is plain and simple: unbiblical living. We may have committed no grave sin, but we have ignored the "Spring of Living Water" for so long that we are finally paying the price.

Unbiblical Standards
It may be legalism or mysticism or perfectionism — whatever it is — we are examining our lives by the wrong standard. God’s standard is that we are to be a growing believer (Heb. 5:11; II Pet. 1:5-8 and II Pet. 3:18). We are not perfect, and God knows that; it should be our goal to grow in Him.

Self-Centeredness
We are called to be others-centered (Phil. 2:3,4 and Acts 20:35) and God-centered (Matt. 6:33). Everything in our society contradicts this by telling us that we need to be self-centered. We are being told that we are to be concerned about our self-image, we are to love ourselves, we are to be self-confident and self-assertive, we are to look out for ourselves — and on and on.

Yet, Jesus tells us to deny ourselves, that is, we are to lose ourselves for His sake (Luke 9:23,24); we are told to put no confidence in the flesh (Phil. 3:3); we are told that it is a sign of our evil times that men are lovers of themselves (II Tim 3:2). Is it any wonder that people who are doing the exact opposite of what Scriptures tell them to do are having problems coping with life?

The Results of Depression
There are, no doubt, other causes for depression, but most of them would fall under one of the general categories previously cited. Now we want to mention some of the results of depression — the experiences you are likely to have when you are depressed.

Before we get into that, it would be helpful to point out that even though we may be depressed, we are still held accountable for our actions. For example, Paul had a legitimate physical problem in II Corinthians 12 which was not his fault. Since he felt sick and perhaps suffered greatly with his disease, surely he had the right to be a little irritable and depressed — but that was not the case at all! (II Cor. 12:9,10: "And He has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.' Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.") Obviously problems and pain do not give us the right to behave sinfully!

So, although a person may not be held liable for the initial problem, he is responsible for handling his life God's way. When he fails to react biblically, but instead becomes resentful, full of self-pity, or anger, the consequence may be depression.
 
Scripture gives some vivid descriptions of depressed people:
How To Deal With Depression
We will now look at some Scriptural and practical actions that we can take to help us overcome depression, depending upon the cause.

Receive Christ
Christ will not be manipulated; He must never be sought for any other reason than for Himself. However, one of the precious benefits of becoming a child of God is the forgiveness of sin (Rom. 5:1-11). As we saw earlier, often depression is a result of unresolved guilt; salvation removes that guilt.
 
Reprogram our thinking
To a large degree, our feelings follow our thinking. A depressed person would be wise to keep a journal of his thoughts when he is down. Those thoughts that lead to depression should be faced honestly and replaced by a biblical thought life (Phil. 4:8 and Rom. 12:2). For example, a person depressed as a result of self-pity must be truthful enough to recognize this attitude as sinful. The thoughts of self-pity must be confessed and replaced with thoughts that honor God and agree with Scripture (e.g. Rom. 8:28 and James 1:2-4).

Deal with sinful behavior
We should check out all factors (incidents, etc.) and/or life patterns that have led to our reactions to the initial problems. We should then find the biblical action and by God’s strength begin to replace those sinful reactions with biblical ones by applying the put off - put on principle of Eph. 4:22-24.

Reach out to others
Depressed persons tend to become self-absorbed; in turn, the depression intensifies. Therefore, one of the best things that a depressed person can do is to become concerned about others (Phil. 2:4).
Do not misunderstand; we are not teaching a technique for overcoming depression so much as we are encouraging individuals to come back to a biblical outlook on life. When we forget about ourselves and focus on others, we please God. As a side benefit a depressed person may very well find his or her spirit lifted.

Focus on behavior, not feelings
You don’t do what you do because you feel a certain way; rather, you feel the way you feel because of what you do and think (Phil. 4:6-9). Note the example of Cain (Gen. 4:5-8).

Focus on a specific plan of action
Develop a plan of attack against the sinful tendencies of the human heart that would surrender to feelings rather than follow the path of Christian responsibility. Make an actual list of the options and steps that can be taken to resolve the situation.

Grow in fellowship
Withdrawing and being alone is one of the worst things depressed individuals can do, because withdrawal reinforces depression and self absorption. We should attempt to be with those who can lift us up and encourage us as we seek to do the same for them (Gal. 6;1ff and Heb. 10:24,25). We are not advising the manipulation of people to meet our needs, but we are wise to understand that God has given us fellow believers to encourage us, as we reach out to them.

Be careful with introspection
Although insight is essential in overcoming depression, insight can become unhealthy when it goes beyond healthy insight and evaluation into morbid introspection (I Cor. 4:3-5).

Stop trying to get even
Vengeance and other forms of anger may cause depression (Rom. 12:14-21 and Eph. 4:26,27).

Accept responsibility for depression
Shifting the blame to others will never help. Even when we have been wronged by others, depression will not be caused by the wrong done, but by our sinful reactions.

Realize that there is hope
When we say that most depression is a result of unbiblical and sinful reactions to problems, it sounds unloving and harsh. Actually the opposite is true. When we realize that it is our reactions that are causing the depression, we can then deal with those reactions God’s way. This realization gives us hope that, by God’s help, a solution is possible (Phil. 4:13).

Deal with guilt
Even in the believer’s life there may be unresolved guilt. If so, we need to seek and accept God’s forgiveness (I John 1:9). By the way, nowhere in Scripture are we told to forgive ourselves; we have no authority to do so. Rather, only God can forgive sins; therefore, it is our responsibility to take Him at His word and recognize His forgiveness when we have confessed our sins.

Take care of our bodies
We are not purely spiritual creatures no matter how close to God we become. Therefore, we must take care of our bodies. Proper sleep, food, rest, relaxation and exercise are all helpful in combating depression. (Again, note the example of Elijah in I Kings 19.)

Depression and the Bible

Marital problems are the number one reason that people seek counseling in the United States. Depression is a close second. Financial difficulties are the main reason that people give as the source of their depression.We can understand why this is so, with the amount of debt that many carry today, but often this is only the tip of the iceberg. As a matter of fact, our financial problems may be a good indicator that many other aspects of our lives are out of control — all of which may be leading us to depression.

We all have days when we feel gloomy, down, bored or wiped out. We may call this feeling a mild form of depression, but discouragement is perhaps a better term. To expect to live in this world without occasional disenchantment and gloominess is totally unrealistic. Virtually every major character of Scripture had down, unhappy or sad moments, including Jesus Christ.

Just a quick reading of Psalms, Jeremiah or Ecclesiastes tells us that there is much about life, even the life of the godly, that is depressing to the point of tears, sorrow and confusion. Yet, God never apologizes for this. Rather, He informs us that He uses these very things to mature us into the image of His Son (James 1:2-4; Rom. 8:28,29 and Rom. 5:3-5). The perfect life of consistent happiness and fulfillment — free of all the effects of sin — awaits us in eternity. The emptiness, sorrows and incompleteness of this life are direct results of the principle of sin in this world.

Even so, God uses these trials as a means of keeping us from becoming too comfortable in our present condition. The result is that, like Abraham, we too "look forward to a city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God" (Heb. 11:10). So, while we have great peace in Christ — and many wonderful and beautiful things in this life to enjoy — it is certainly unbiblical to expect to be (as the song goes).

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