My prayer list is full of women who are suffering from chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Many of these women have gone through stressful events in their lives such as the loss of a job, children problems, relationship issues, marital strife and divorce. Many as the result of life's struggles have also experienced another deadly illness that may not have been diagnosed. This deadly disease is depression. Believe it or not, twice as many women are affected by this disorder and one in four women will experience severe depression at some point in life. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) indicates that depression is the number one cause of disability in women.
What is depression? Clinical depression is an illness that involves the body, mood and one’s thought processes. When one suffers from depression there are psychological/emotional, behavioral, and physical symptoms. I will not list all of the symptoms here, but people who are depressed have overwhelming feelings of sadness and the inability to say why, feelings of hopelessness, or have exaggerated feelings of guilt and anxiety. Behavioral symptoms include: difficulty concentrating, spending time reminiscing about the past, and a loss of interest or pleasure in activities they used to enjoy. Finally, physical symptoms may including crying, sleep disturbances, lack of energy and fatigue, and changes in appetite and weight.
Even though depression is treatable, only about one-fifth of all women who suffer from depression seek treatment. This disturbs me because four out of five are trying to do it alone or may not even realize they are suffering from this condition. Untreated clinical depression is a serious problem. Suicide is the worst but very real outcome however; untreated depression can also lead to significant health problems including the inability to overcome chronic illnesses.
There is more and more evidence that depression takes a serious toll on one’s physical health. One study found that patients with major depression have a higher risk of death in the first few months after a heart attack. Researchers have found a relationship between depression and chronic physical illness including heart disease, high blood pressure and particularly cancer. Chronic depression can also lead to risky behaviors such as drug and alcohol addiction.
If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, get some help right away. You are not alone. King David, Job and others through the Bible struggled with fear and worry and other kinds of depressive thinking. In the book of Ruth, Naomi whose name means “my joy” became so depressed after the loss of her husband and two sons that she wanted to change her name to Mara which meant “bitterness.”
Depression can be treated with medication and counseling, but I have also seen God work miracles through the study of his word. God has a remedy for depression but you must learn to trust him to take control of your thoughts and bring them in line with his Word. There are many scriptures that can help with depression. Read them, study them, meditate on them. Your change may not come right away, but with God’s help your deliverance will come. Make the decision to be rid of depression and live! Remember God’s promise in Ecclesiastes 9:4, “Anyone who is among the living has hope.”
Janice R Love, Author
First Lady, Mom, Stepmom and Divorce Ministry Coach