Friday, May 08, 2009

The Stigma Of Depression

It is Orthodox that we are in bodies suffering from the fall of man. Sin and disease are the result. Our bodies, through environment and genetics lack what they need and some have more need than others. Cancer is an imbalance in an individual's system that allows the cells to mutate. Balance the system and the cancer goes away. Depression is an imbalance in the system. Balance the system and the depression goes away. Why does one have a stigma and not the other? Depression is a symptom and cannot be seen under a microscope as can cancer. Causes of depression vary with each host- same as cancer. Cures vary with each host-same as cancer. Unfortunately, psychologists have cornered the market on the treatment of depression as a behavior anomaly. The cure is to treat the needs of the body. Psychotropic drugs are not a cure and mask the symptoms. They are of great value in that they allow a person to cope through what can be desperate episodes, but left as a single treatment, the sufferer may never be fully healthy. A person with a propensity toward depression will always have to be on guard. His lifestyle, eating, rest periods, supplements will have to be specific to his needs. It is not a mystery nor a secret that depression is fully curable. A medical doctor needs to be educated. They will not routinely look for the causes such as vitamin deficiencies, kidney malfunction, both related to the body's ability to filter nutrients. Doctors such as Asa Andrews have a holistic approach to life and health from this perspective. Getting on his lifestyle system may change your life. You can enter a time of your life where there are NO episodes and no credit given to anti-depressants. That in effect is a cure. Please forgive if I presume to know too much. I am a living example of everything I just described. For those who would stigmatize the sufferer of depression-would you tell a cancer patient to "snap out of it" or to "have more faith"?


  1. As one who has had those type comments said to my face, I would never repeat them to another. Depression is a terrible thing and I am grateful for the meds, counseling and medicine offered at my Orthodox parish (confession and communion). It has been a long journey and I pray that God will one day allow me His mercy and strength to go off my meds. Until then...I continue the good fight.

  2. Thank you... I just recently allowed myself to admit that I might have clinical depression. It's affecting my marriage, my job, my entire life. Do you have any advice on how to get treatment? I would rather not go to a doctor-appointed therapist or counselor, since I'm bound to Kaiser-only physicians. I can't, however, really afford to pay without insurance. We have a small parish and only one priest, and I'm not comfortable going to our priest about this. Any advice?

  3. Ella, don't go it alone if at all possible. I hope you have an understanding husband. It might actually be a relief to him to know the cause of some of your moodiness and that there is help available. I can't dispense advise, only my suggestions. You feel bad because your body is not healthy! The ultimate cure is not pharmaceutical, it is dietary. Your body is unique and has unique needs and deficiencies. Do what you can, sell what you must to get the cash, get desperate enough to change your eating and exercise lifestyle. Contact the Dr. Asa Andrews group. They are about nutrition and health, not psychiatrics. It will cost, but they can guide you. They are Protestant Christians in the Nashville, TN area, but they help people all over the world. Of course I don't know your priest, but most priests are not equipped to deal with the medical issues of our lives, though he may surprise you. At the very least he will pray for you. Also if you are suicidal in any way, shape or form, pharmaceuticals could be a needed bridge for you to get you through. There is no shame in it and most insurance covers such treatment. if not, there are public health agencies who will give medicine and help for free. Take advantage of what you can and don't be ashamed as you seek help. We are all in these fallen bodies. Just remember...there is no judgment from those who have been there and there are a lot of us. Check back with me. Let me know how you're doing.

  4. Anonymous9:31 AM

    Hi, I have read that a diet lacking in protein could effect one's moods.
    Sugar can dramatically increase ones mood.
    Cutting out sugar and processed foods are also thought to help.
    Omega 3 oils/fish oil and walnuts are excellent.
    I guess we live in a society where we have everything, but we lack alot.
    Try to eat porridge(oat meal-oats)in the mornings..
    prayer is another thing...we don't seem to have the time for it...
    pray for me a sinner
    Nathan Lewis ...May God bless you in your Journey.

  5. Anonymous9:37 PM

    To Nathan Lewis;

    My name is Vladimir, I am a psychotherapist and clinical counselor for the Sheriff Department in Massachusetts. I am also an Orthodox Christian. I am so glad to have read your post on depression as I have been very bothered by what most clinician's teach on this topic. Last week even, I heard a clinician state that depression is a "disease". I gave a short discourse on depression against that label to my participants. While there are many factors to consider as to what causes depression, the one that goes ignored is the plain fact that most people, even Orthodox Christians, suffer from what I call "Low Frustration Tolerance". In early childhood development we learn that every day stressors and unwelcomed circumstances are agents that shape and mold our abilities to deal with life at an adult stage. When in today's day and age child psychologists wish to brand our children with ADHD or the like because they do not behave the way they wish them too, our children grow up in this process of self-medicating that stunts their growth and robs them of the opportunities to learn to cope with every day affairs in a natural way. Unfortunately, these medications have a long term effect on their neurobiological makeup that changes many aspects of their lives. True indeed, their are some real clinical conditions that merit the use of medication, but only temporary and never on a life-long process. The Fathers of the Church have for a very long time expressed that many neurological disorders come from both our own sinful disposition and demonic influence and therefore do require the attention of a trained and knowledgeable priest (Orthodox at that, and only that) providing the cure and deliverance from the disorder. In fact, Blessed St. John Maximovitch is recorded as visiting some with these disorders and curing them, while those who were worst of, he just prayed for. Please do not misunderstand my position. I do not believe in "medication" as the way out, just as a temporary aid in the most serious of cases. But I do believe wholeheartedly in the Grace and Divine Healing of the Church. Orthodoxy is the Science of Sciences and the therapy of Therapies.

    In Christ+ Vlad

  6. Vladimir, Thank you for your balanced perspective from your education and experience. Thank you for the most important focus on the "therapy of therapies" that is our hope in the direct involvement of our Lord to heal the infirmities of man whether psychological or physiological. He is Jehovah Rophe- The God Who Heals!

  7. Anonymous12:57 AM

    It is not true that the old men and women are more susceptible to depression than their younger counterparts and it must be mentioned that an individual is said to suffer from depression when he exhibits symptoms, namely, hopelessness, chronic tiredness, appetite loss, loneliness, sadness et al for one week or more. Therefore, it is important for you to get hold of right information on depression related details before starting to treat your depression.

  8. Anonymous7:21 PM

    Thank you for your blog. Your last sentance was such a standout for me. I have been suffering from depression and massive Generalized Anxiety, which came after physical illness. Before this, I was always a very calm, peaceful, happy person (no matter the circumstances). Especially being like this before, it was particularly hard for me to stop telling myself to "just get over it".
    After a few desperating breakdowns where things got really bad, I found a doctor who takes a wholistic approach. He did what is called an EIS scan, and it showed things like brain functioning and seratonin levels, both of which was extremely low for me. He believes it is due to my inflamed gut and nutrients and suppliments my body needs is not being absorbed, hence my brain being deprived. I felt this scan was such a blessing because I could see on a screen that my depression and anxiety was real. I am still being treated.
    Thank you for pointing out the pysiological side of this, and not just the spiritual. All these areas have such a role in curing depression and mental illness. I fully believe that all the medical and physical side of this equation are "tools" that God have provided for us to find peace, of course along with spiritual reconnection.
    One thing that scares me throughout this is during the days that my mind is completely irrational, I question my faith. I ask all the questions of "why would God allow things like that to happen?" "Is God really there?". And the most scary moment is when I really felt that there was no God.
    I have many hours now alone where I am trying to utilize this time to read more into my Orthodox faith. I am condiering talking to my priest about what I struggle through - something I would not have done if I had not gotten to this state. I am praying that this will bring me closer to God and that he will grant me peace.
    Thank you for your blog. Please pray for me, a sinner.


  9. S, I am so glad you are finding answers! Though I posted this article months ago, I just discovered, through blood tests, that I have one poorly functioning adrenal gland which can also cause many symptoms related to depression, not to mention deplete the body of potassium and other nutrients related to good health and feeling well. I am being treated for that as we speak. Keep researching, asking questions and above all...Have Hope.

  10. Anonymous8:34 PM

    That is a blessing that you have found this out. The body is an amazing thing! I have done much reading about areas like that, and its good that you have doctors who have identified something like a poorly functioning adrenal gland (a lot of doctors miss this).
    May I also suggest if you are open to further reading, to look into the role of amino acids and your neurotransmitters? I have found valuable information which my doctor has identified that indicates that amino acid deficiencies can play a massive role in your neurotransmitters not working properly (because neurotransmitters are made from amino acids). Something to think about!
    I pray that God may grant you peace and patience through this time. :)


  11. My potassium is balanced! Levels good for months now. Vitamin D is up to good level. Heavy doses of Vitamin C have helped my immune system. Feeing great for an old man :) Enjoy God's creation! Breath in the fresh air...if you can find some :) Lenten fasting is its own medicine.


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