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Diseases of the Mind


Author: Connie Kiefiuk

Summary: Depression affects millions. What can be done?

The word “disease” brings up thoughts of things like cancer, strokes, heart attacks, and diabetes. However, a lurking illness affecting millions of people is depression.

You would think that affluent societies should be free of this “disease”—that it should only affect third world countries where extreme poverty would be sufficient reason for serious depression. However, this is not the case. Depression is a major disability in societies that are bursting with materialism.

It has been reported by the World Health Organization that in the year 2000, depression was the leading cause of short-term disability around the world. Billions of dollars are lost in productivity because of depressed employees. For instance, in Canada, depressed workers reported an average of 32 days in the year when their symptoms of depression left them either totally unable to work or unable to carry out normal everyday activities.

Depression is an illness that affects the whole body: the nervous system, moods, thoughts, and behavior. There are basically three types of depression:

1. Major Depression

  • Primary symptoms include anxious, “empty,” or sad moods, feelings of hopelessness and unreasonable guilt, worthlessness or helplessness, and a loss of interest in normal activities.
  • May be changes in sleep habits (either insomnia or excessive sleeping), changes in appetite, as well as symptoms of chronic fatigue, headaches, irritability, and quickness to anger.
  • Feelings of intense grudges against people, overwhelming feelings of sadness or grief.
  • There may be thoughts of death or suicide.
  • Women are struck twice as often as men.

2. Dysthymia

  • Is less disabling than major depression but lasts longer.
  • Generally characterized by a lack of enjoyment in life that normally lasts at least two years.
  • Can have severe effects over a lifetime such as social isolation, poor functioning at work and high rates of suicide.
  • Women are struck twice as often as men.

3. Bipolar Disorder (or Manic Depression)

  • Manic symptoms include abnormal elation, decreased need for sleep, inappropriate social behavior, markedly increased energy, increased sexual desire.
  • Dramatic mood swings are typical.
  • A manic episode could worsen into a psychotic state if left untreated.
  • Men and women are struck equally.

There are many causes of depression and many factors that make some people more prone to it than others, such as a family history of the illness. Depression can result from prolonged stress on the job, or from a general negative outlook on life. A poor diet is a common cause of depression. It can also be triggered by specific traumatic events in a person’s life and there are also situations where a biochemical imbalance in the brain brings on depression.

How can depression be treated?

Although medication can perhaps help some people get through their daily routines, it does not normally “cure” depression. I would like to suggest that the best medicine is summed up in the following words from an excellent book called Ministry of Healing:

Pure air, sunlight, abstemiousness, rest, exercise, proper diet, the use of water, and trust in divine power—these are the true remedies. Every person should have knowledge of nature’s remedial agencies and how to apply them…But in the end it will be found that nature, untrammeled, does her work wisely and well. Those who persevere in obedience to her laws will reap the reward in health of body and health of mind (Ministry of Healing, 127).

Pure Air
Oxygen is vital to each cell of our body. Bad air and poor breathing habits promote negative emotions like depression and irritability. It can also cause headaches and chronic feelings of fatigue and exhaustion. Be sure your body gets enough oxygen by spending some time in the out-of-doors and keeping your house well ventilated. Pause frequently to take slow, deep breaths of good fresh air. Read our article on fresh air

Just 15 minutes of sunlight can provide sufficient vitamin D for the day. Sunlight helps the body produce melatonin that in turn produces sounder sleep. In addition, an extra hour of sunlight a day can lift your spirits and affect your energy. Read our article on sunlight

Abstemiousness, or temperance, is moderation in every area of life and abstinence from things like alcohol and smoking. Balance in our total lifestyle is the key to enduring physical and mental health and happiness. Read our article on temperance

The average adult needs between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night, young children need 10 to 12 hours. Rest is an important part of life’s rhythm and is conducive to better physical and mental health. Read our article on rest

Regular exercise is very effective in combating many health problems, both physical and mental, and is as good as medicine for reducing depression. Good examples are walking, jogging, or cycling for at least 30 minutes each day. Read our article on exercise

Proper Diet
A well-balanced vegetarian diet rich in vitamins and nutrients that are low in fat and cholesterol yet high in fiber will lead to a new level of good health and well-being. Depression and anxiety have been found to be lower in vegetarians when compared to non-vegetarians due to the fact that they enjoy better health. Good health can only be sustained by good blood, which comes only from eating vital foods. Read our article on nutrition

Virtually every bodily function is dependent upon water, so 8 to 10 cups of water per day are recommended for the average person. Keeping your body hydrated can chase away that tired, depressed feeling! Water on the outside of the body is just as important and vital for cleaning the skin. Read our article on water

Trust in Divine Power
Becoming acquainted with and learning to trust God enhances physical, emotional, and spiritual healing. Isaiah 26:3 says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” Trust in God brings quality, fulfillment and hope for the future. Read our article on trust

Remember, ”A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones” (Proverbs 17:22).