How to manage depression without resorting to anti-depressants
People suffering from depression are often given two choices – medicate it or deal with it. One expert, however, believes there is a third option.
“Those suffering with depression were considered to be self-indulgent and self-obsessed,” said Dr. Gregory Jantz, a licensed mental health counselor and author of Living Beyond Depression (www.drgregoryjantz.com). “Their dark moods were responded to with little patience or understanding. People with depression were often counseled to just ‘cheer up!’
When the ‘get-over-it’ method didn’t seem to work, increasing numbers of sufferers turned to medication. The use of Prozac and other anti-depressant medication has recently skyrocketed. But there is another way, and it doesn’t involve prescription medication, or any of the other age-old ‘remedies,’ such as alcoholism, drug abuse, promiscuity, eating disorders, self-mutilation, and other compulsive behaviors. It is also far more enlightened than just telling yourself to get over it. It involves objectively examining your life, and rebuilding it little by little until you are reintegrated as a whole person.”
Jantz’s method does not revolve around just going to see a therapist and talking about your problems. It’s about getting to the root of the disease of depression and fighting it with the same emotions that fuel it. He calls it the Whole-Person Approach, and it incorporates getting a handle on the following concepts that make up the key elements of our lives:
Emotional Influences. We are emotional beings, and we choose to acknowledge or express those emotions in outward forms. We are never far from our feelings and emotions. They trip us up when we are stressed or tired. They sneak up on us at unexpected moments. They support our expectations, fuel our disappointments, and energize our victories. When depression settles into a person’s life, emotions become confused. Minor daily irritants can become major life hurdles. The joy of others can become a gloomy reminder of inner insecurities. Even if life appears to be going well, our emotional balance can become tilted toward depression.
Environmental Influences. We live in a world where complexity greets us every morning. What are we going to wear? What are we going to eat? How are we going to arrive at work? Which task are we going to complete? What call are we going to deal with first? Should we answer our cell phone, our home phone, respond to our email, reply to our voice mail—and in what order? From the moment we awake, the assault begins. We are overwhelmed. The assault demands a response, and retreating into depression can be that response.
Relational Influences. We constantly use relationships to determine our position in life. We observe the world and people around us and make decisions about who we are based on how we believe others perceive us. We define our position by the people with whom we interact. We use this information to triangulate our state of well being, factoring in what we’ve learned or observed in the past, a view of our present circumstances, and the potential outcome for our future.
Physical Influences. In the past, the answer to a broken-down spirit was a pharmaceutical “fix” that relaxed the physical body. But as we learn more and more about the inter-working of mind, body, and spirit, we are learning that the potential exists for our bodies to act as partner in recovery instead of an opponent.
Spiritual Influences. Wrestling with questions of worth and purpose are spiritual issues. Who am I? What is my purpose? Where is joy? When will this be over? Why is this happening? How did I get this way? The spiritual component of a person’s life can provide direction toward both the right questions and the needed answers.
About Dr. Gregory Jantz
Gregory L. Jantz, PH.D., is the best-selling author of numerous books including Every Woman’s Guide to Managing Your Anger and Moving Beyond Depression. He is the founder and executive director of The Center for Counseling and Health Resources, Inc., a leading mental health and chemical dependency treatment facility with three clinics in the Seattle, Washington, area. Dr. Jantz and his wife, LaFon, have two sons, Gregg and Benjamin.