Thursday, August 2, 2012


If you know that God is with you and will never fail you, then you always have every reason to smile. However, depression is much more common than we can even imagine. In the United States, more than 19 million people suffer from depression, and it is the #1 cause of disability in the world. So what causes it? The best answer is many things. The contributing factors vary substantially from one person to the next. To start, biology matters–there can be genetic and neurochemical (an organic molecule, such as serotonin, dopamine, or nerve growth factor that participates in neural activity) factors that play a role in the onset and course of depression. The misconception many people have, though, is that you have a neurochemical anomaly and then depression results.

   Feeling hopeless and helpless is part of the disorder; therefore, depressed people are prone to believe there is nothing they can do to help themselves. Those are lies that Satan whispers. When people educate themselves and take proactive and deliberate steps to get help, the probability of overcoming depression is high.

   If we were to completely ignore the disempowering interpretations others offer about the meaning of our depression and focus on learning what our particular risk factors and vulnerabilities are, then learning the strategies we'll need for skillfully managing our mood can develop. Even when depression eventually lifts, we’ll need to manage our mood with self-awareness and skill. It's a life skill everyone needs, not just those prone to depression. In these uncertain times, the winds of change blow in all directions.

   Therapy can be of great help and should feature somewhere in our plans to overcome our depression. We can't effectively treat ourselves when we don't know much about what we're up against. So remember, depression can be treated, and we can feel better. Mental health experts say that most people who have depression–80% or more–can feel better when they receive treatment. Many see some improvement in their symptoms as soon as 4-6 weeks after starting treatment.

   People with depression often struggle with more emotional issues than depression alone. Depression and anxiety often go hand-in-hand, and stress can also challenge your emotional health. When anxiety and stress build up, they can affect your depression symptoms and make them more difficult to manage. Some simple relaxation techniques may help you escape your stress and anxiety, as well as better manage your depression.

How Relaxation Helps Depression

Caring for all aspects of your emotional health is important for managing depression, and that means easing stress and anxiety, too. A daily dose of relaxation may be just what the doctor ordered. Relaxation can help just about anybody. Anxiety, which is common in people who have depression, can make people feel tense. The anxiety can be severe and may even lead to panic attacks.

   Certainly when someone is depressed, much of their outlook is negative. Relaxation techniques can help with that; they can bring people down a notch so that they're not so anxious or negative. Relaxation techniques such as meditation, massage, and exercise can also release endorphins, which are chemicals in the body that relieve pain and are thought to elevate your mood.

   These techniques may even help prevent depression in some people. Environmental stress can trigger depressive episodes, so if you have a genetic predisposition to depression and you go through a stressful time, you are more likely to have a depressive episode. Learning how to control your stress levels may help prevent depressive episodes.

Relaxation Techniques for Depression

Which relaxation techniques will be most effective for improving emotional health depends on the person. My wife Angela finds a massage or pedicure to be calming, while those activities could actually cause stress for someone who doesn’t enjoy them. Your relaxation technique doesn’t have to be complicated–anything that makes you unwind and feel good will benefit your emotional health.

   Here are some relaxation techniques known to help ease depression and anxiety. Try the ones that appeal to you, and discover which ones deliver the most stress relief.

Ø  Deep Breathing. Deep, slow breathing can help release anxiety and relax from head to toe. Try it at set times throughout the day or whenever you feel stress building. Combine deep breathing with meditation for even greater relaxation, stress relief, and focus.

Ø  Exercise. This is a great relaxation technique and it offers great physical health benefits, too. Yoga is a particularly beneficial therapy because it focuses on meditation, balance, deep breathing, and relaxation all at the same time.

Ø  Surround Yourself With Scents. Some people find certain pleasant aromas very relaxing. Known as aromatherapy, this technique can be as simple as lighting a candle scented with a favorite fragrance.

Ø  Take a Mental Vacation. Called visual or guided imagery, this relaxation technique uses your imagination to carry yourself away from daily stress. Picture yourself in a serene, peaceful place that makes you happy. Take time to experience all the sensations in your mind.

Ø  Warm up. Treat yourself to a long, luxurious soak in a bubble bath or lose yourself in the steam of a hot shower. Even sip a cup of hot green tea or rosehip tea.

Ø  Scribble out Your Stress. If something's bothering you and you just need to get it off your chest, a diary or journal can be your best friend. Take a few moments each day–or any time you feel down or stressed–to write about your fears, concerns, or frustrations. Writing this guide has been an excellent form of therapy for me and I truly hope God blesses me with another opportunity to share something more with you.

   Everyone's idea of relaxation is different. It doesn't matter what you do to relieve stress as long as it helps you feel better. Make time each day for a short respite, something that you look forward to that will leave you feeling more hopeful as you face the rest of your day.

About the Author:
 James Hackley earned a B.S. degree in Physics from Longwood College and an M.S. degree in Engineering from the University of Virginia.  He faithfully attends Holy & Whole Life Changing Ministries International in Lansdowne, Va., and his latest book, Body, Mind & Spirit: The Awakening can be purchased by visiting him at ,, and

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