When depression hits, it affects your whole being (body, soul, and spirit). Medical doctors have historically stated that how you respond to life’s disappointments has a direct impact on your body. God encourages us to seek Him for healing and health. “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
If you are suffering with prolonged depression …
- First, obtain a thorough medical checkup. (Tell the doctor you feel unusually depressed. Be specific.)
- Ask the doctor to evaluate all medications you are taking and eliminate what is unnecessary. (Ask your doctor if any of your medications could contribute to depression.)
- Develop regular sleeping habits – sleep is therapeutic. (Only during deep sleep does the brain produce serotonin, which alleviates depression. Set a regular time to go to sleep and to rise.)
- Maintain a regular schedule of activity. (Be actively involved in outside functions, such as church and ministry, which impact brain function. Accept invitations to be with others – even if you don’t feel like it.)
- Eliminate stress – avoid being overly fatigued. (Set aside some quiet time of relaxation.)
- Eat balanced, nutritious meals regularly. (Avoid caffeine, alcohol, salt, and junk food. Stay away from sugar to avoid “the sugar blues.”) But before you make any changes consult with your dietician.
- Get regular exercise – walk, jog, or swim at least four days a week. (Twenty minutes of brisk walking releases endorphins – a natural mood elevator.)
- Spend time in the sun enjoying God’s beautiful creation. (Research reveals that 30 minutes of sunshine can help alleviate depression. Too little sun produces melatonin, which can cause lethargy.)
This biblical prayer should encourage each of us to care for and take responsibility for our physical health. “I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” (3 John 2)
Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a form of depression associated with deprivation of sunlight. SAD, also called the “winter blues,” typically begins in the Fall with shorter days and less sunlight and subsides in the Spring as the days get longer. Too little sunlight entering the eye produces in the brain a hormone called melatonin, which is released with the onset of darkness. Too much melatonin creates a biochemical imbalance in the hypothalamus region of the brain. In animals, melatonin controls hibernation and causes a decrease in activity. In humans, SAD causes symptoms such as excessive sleep, lethargy, overeating, and depression.
The best treatment for SAD is light, because light is therapeutic.
- First, avail yourself of any and every opportunity to get into the natural sunlight (outdoor reading or exercise, morning or afternoon walks).
- Second, you could purchase a specially designed light box that produces artificial light and then expose your eyes to the light for 30 minutes to two hours daily.
- Take vacations in locations where you can soak in the sun.
“Light is sweet, and it pleases the eyes to see the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 11:7)