Monday, December 04, 2006

Four Primary Types of Depression

I believe that one of the obstacles to an understanding of depression is the idea that depression is only what happens when life takes a turn for the worse. Occasionally, someone will say, "I know how you feel. I was depressed once for three days." Clinical depression is defined as that which lasts longer than two weeks.

My studies and the writings of medical professionals suggest 4 major types of depression.

(1) Circumstantial-This is the most commonly experienced type. Most everyone can remember feeling down when a loved one dies, or they get a divorce, or they lose their job, or their house burns down, etc.. Not everyone reponds to difficult circumstances the same way, but there will most likely be something for each of us that brings on the "blues." When circumstances change or improve, we will begin to feel better. This type of depression is nearly always resolved in less than two weeks.

(2) Biological-This is primarily what my blog is addressing. Maybe this is an oversimplification, but this type of depression is believed by leading scientists to be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. There are chemical messengers between brain cells which are sometimes found in some individuals to be in deficit. A shortage of these neurotransmitters, i.e. serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine, will upset the chemistry of the brain and cause depression which is out of the individual's control.

(3) Psychological-Sometimes the negative pattern of someone's thinking affects their moods to the extent that they become depressed. You might be surprised to know how many people experience this particular type of mood disturbance. Perhaps all of us to some degree. Sometimes this pattern of thought is described as "Stinkin' Thinkin.' When our self-talk is negative, then we may become depressed. The pioneering and revolutionary psychologist, Albert Ellis, believed that people's irrational ideas about themselves cripple their emotional lives.

(4) Spiritual-Although I've discussed this subject with many doctors, the idea that people could become depressed because of a poor relationship with God was novel to them. My study of the Bible has led me to believe that children of God can experience this type of depression due to unrepented sin. King David expressed it this way, "When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.'--and you forgave the guilt of my sin (Psalm 32:3-5)."

It is extremely important to know that a person might be experiencing one or more of these types of depression at the same time. For instance, you may depressed for biological reasons and also be depressed because of your "Stinkin' Thinkin'." If you only treat the biological depression and do not treat the psychological, then you will not become well.

"...Woe to the one who falls and there is not another to lift him up (Ecclesiastes 4:10)." Be a "lifter" this week.

["I'm so low I could do a ten minute free-fall off the edge of a dime."]

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