The Fifth Part of a Nine Part Series Which Began on February 10, 2016
There are five main causes of depression. Each by itself may lead to depression, but when an individual encounters more than one of these five, depression is far more likely. Over the next few days I plan to cover each life factor that may cause a person to experience depression.
First, People Get Depressed When They Lose Someone or Something Important To Them
We all have either experienced or will experience it. No bridge spans the pain of losing people and things we care about. Each of us must eventually wade slowly through these streams. At times others are there to walk beside us, but frequently we find ourselves alone.
The normal grief process has frequently been written about, and for good reason. Since often when a person becomes depressed there are a number of factors that have led to it. Serious depression is usually multi-factorial. That is, a person has lost something or someone who is significant to them, and then other issues, or causes of depression, are seen.
The Normal Grief Process
The normal grief process is God’s way of helping us to resolve our losses. For most people it follows a fairly predictable pattern that usually follows five stages. We say “usually” because we do not always progress orderly through the stages.
The first stage encountered is shock. It is the disbelief and even denial that people face when notified of the loss of a loved one.
It helps to protect against the full impact of the loss which would initially be too great to bear. Shock tends to last longer with a sudden loss than with loss that is foreseen. Anticipated loss, as with a terminally ill loved one, may allow for some grieving to be done ahead of time
Anger is commonly experienced in the face of a loss. It may be directed at medical personnel, family members, friends, or even at the person who died. The reason for this is hopes and dreams have been short-circuited, or dashed. This can be perplexing for people. Consequently, family members and supportive friends can allow the person experiencing the loss to express their anger in a healthy manner. Unhealthy expressions of anger may include verbal or physical outbursts at family members, and using alcohol or drugs.
3. What If?
People are often left with an endless debate over how things could have been different. “What if I would have been there to notify the doctor more quickly?” What if I had not let her drive to the store?”
These questions may typify the feeling, “Why did this have to happen?” It reflects a personal feeling of powerlessness. We have this stage of the grief process recorded in John 11:21 & 32. Mary and Martha faced this very experience at the loss of their brother Lazarus. The Bible says this,
“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Sadness is perhaps the most characteristic emotion in the experience of grief. When we lose someone or something dear to us we feel sad. This is both normal and healthy. In fact, counselors do not consider this experience to be a clinical form of depression. It is a normal reaction to loss of a loved one to death. As a matter of fact, the depression indicates that something very valuable was lost. In this sense, depression reveals how important and vital the relationship to the deceased person really was.
The healing process is more complete when we accept our losses. The pain is not necessarily gone but new hopes and goals begin to surface. Grief peaks again after about a year – feelings are intense, but they do not usually last as long.
Losses tend to be cumulative in life. When we successfully work through one, we are then provided a background for working through another. The child who looses a valued pet and works through the associated thoughts and feelings will be better able to face the loss of a more significant relationship, as when a grand parent is lost. The feelings, though more intense and more painful, are not entirely unknown to the person. Wisdom comes with age. And one important definition of maturity is the wisdom a person has acquired through experiencing a number of significant losses.
Dr James P Porowski Raleigh NC February 17, 2016