Depression: Losing Heart, then Hope
We Cannot Live without Hope
When hope and heart are diminished or lost, depression fills the void they leave behind. The wisdom of Proverbs 29:18 (KJV) says so much in just a few words:
Where there is no hope, the people perish…
Such is the vitality and significance of hope, one of God’s crucial gifts to man. Hope offers us the opportunity to begin anew and to push for spiritual, personal, and professional development, for belief in oneself, for security, and for the setting and achieving of goals.
You’ve Got to Have Heart
For many people, music, from liturgical to rock, is an instrument of healing and peace. Lyrics and melody can combine to speak volumes. They can easily be interpreted as a reflection of the combined power of faith in Christ and the personal determination needed to turn around 180 degrees in challenging circumstances.
You’ve Got to Have Heart,1 is a popular song from the 1952 Tony Award-winning musical, Damn Yankees. The song is a motivational message sung by the coach to three disgruntled members of a professional baseball team. By suffering so many losses, the team has lost heart (faith and determination) and hope (motivation). The lyrics of the song speak about the will to move forward, even when the odds are against success. The first verse goes:
Coach (spoken to three members of the team): See boys, that`s what I`m talking about. Baseball is only one-half skill, the other half is something else … something bigger!
(Coach and three players begin song):
You’ve gotta have … Heart! All you really need is heart!
When the odds are sayin’ you’ll never win, that`s when the grin should start!
You’ve gotta have hope! Mustn’t sit around and mope.
Nuthin’s half as bad as it may appear, wait’ll next year and hope. # # #
Hope is related to imagination and gives us the ability to see with our heart that which is not visible to our eyes. Envisioning a plan and its goal requires that we use our imagination.
Losing Hope Can Lead to Depression
The erosion of hope can lead to clinical depression. And then a downward spiral begins, as depression expresses feelings of abandonment and hopelessness. In both hopelessness and depression, the depressed and hopeless individual comes to feel extraordinarily different from others and remarkably alone. He or she becomes disconnected from the world, friends, family, and even God. In essence, the depressed person has lost heart.
In his book, A Stubborn Darkness,2 author and counselor Edward T. Welch, Ph.D., closely examines the reasons for depression and confirms its effects on the individual and their family. Early on in the book’s first chapter, Dr. Welch writes:
Depression is a form of suffering that can’t be reduced to one universal cause. This means that family and friends can’t rush in armed with THE answer. Instead, they must be willing to postpone swearing allegiance to a particular theory, and take time to know the depressed person and work together with him or her. What we do know is that depression is painful and, if you have never experienced it, hard to understand. Like most forms of suffering, it feels private and isolating.3
The Depressed Person Needs Support
Welch’s wise counsel, and especially his wisdom to “…take time to know the depressed person and work together with him or her…” is crucial for both counselors and for family and friends. The person suffering depression and hopelessness needs full, consistent, and non-judgmental support.
The depressed person has lost hope. Whether this hope is truly lost or is just out of reach for a short time, feelings of worthlessness and social vulnerability will mushroom without it. Depressed people soon consider themselves without a place to call their own in this world. Losing our short-term and long-term dreams ultimately causes the loss of “the rudder of our very being.”
Negative Self-Talk Reinforces Hopelessness
Hopelessness is all-too-often a major symptom of clinical depression, which also involves losing direct control of, and belief in, ourselves. We become so mired in the negative that we give up on our lives. Negative self-talk is part of the slippery-slope into hopelessness. While these are certainly not the only examples, some common examples of self-negating beliefs are:
- “There’s no place for me…”
- “I’m too (slow; fat; stupid; old…)”
- “Why even try?”
- “I can’t…”
- “I’ll never be able to…”
- “Why am I here?”
- “I have no purpose…”
- “I have no worth…”
Christian Counseling to Overcome Hopelessness
As a Christian counselor, I am aware that changing self-perceptions and climbing out of hopelessness can be difficult, but I also know that it is possible. Self-care, the care of a knowledgeable physician, and appropriate counseling are some of the components of recovery. Maximum benefits can be achieved with the GP, counselor, and depressed individual working together. If medication is used for depression, its use can be shortened and maximized with counseling.
Ironically, hopelessness can prevent a person from asking for help. As a Christian counselor, I am available to walk with you through this rough patch of your journey in order to rediscover the authentic person God made you to be, and the life that awaits you.
http://bit.ly/1vZbnXW: Scene from 1958 movie musical Damn Yankees. Produced by Warner Brothers Studios. Directed by George Abbott and Stanley Donen. Story written by George Abbott and Douglass Wallop. Music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross.
Welch, Edward T. (2004) Depression: A Stubborn Darkness. Greensboro, North Carolina, New Growth Press.
Welch, Edward T. (2004) Depression: A Stubborn Darkness. Page 14.Photos
“North Head Lighthouse by Cape Disappointment,” courtesy Xander Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY-SA 2.0); “Hope, at my parents’ house,” courtesy of Yandle, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0)