Gregory Jantz, Ph.D.
When a person is depressed, there are emotional roots of anger, fear, and guilt that anchor depression into a person’s thinking. These roots must be uncovered, understood, and addressed in a positive, healing way. This is not a quick process. It requires time, patience, and no small amount of courage.
Courage is needed to identify and acknowledge the source of anger, fear, and guilt in your life. The source of this pain may be rooted in childhood. Meaning, you’re so accustomed to feeling this way, you may experience anger, fear, and guilt afresh at dredging up these truths. Looking at who you are and why you feel the way you do from a fresh approach can be difficult.
Over the years, you’ve learned ways to cope with the pain, and those ways are familiar and even comforting. Giving those ways up and looking at the truth is the first step to creating change.
Some people are able to realize improvement through medication alone, but research shows there is a higher degree of healing when therapy is combined with medication. [i] Therapy or counseling provides individuals with a safe place to talk about feelings and discuss past and current events in life that have contributed to their depression.
Therapists can also make suggestions about positive actions people can integrate into their lives. When I have used this whole-person approach, including an understanding of the body and the appropriate use of medication, I have found success in helping people to achieve long-term recovery and healing from depression.
It takes courage to understand the need for change. It takes courage to step out in faith and act differently. Overcoming depression requires a new paradigm because depression can’t be solved by the same circumstances that created it. In order to recover, you need to change how you listen to and respond to your emotions.
In depression, we bury our optimism, hope, and joy and react with anger, fear, or guilt. We allow overwhelming circumstances to knock us flat. Emotional depression can become an automatic reaction to life’s trials. Reactions are automatic, but responses need not be. Depression does not have to be automatic.
Even if we may immediately react negatively, we can learn to intentionally reassert positive emotions. This may not be our first reaction, but our first reaction doesn’t need to be our only response.
The next level above automatic reaction is intentional response. You need to be intentional in your response to life and its circumstances. You need to deliberately recognize, promote, and sustain optimism, hope, and joy. In the midst of depression, the thought of sustaining even a modicum of positive feelings may appear overwhelming, a burden too heavy to bear. But aren’t you already carrying around the weight of emotional baggage?
Think how much energy it takes to carry around anger, fear, and guilt. When you begin to put those emotions down, you will find strength for optimism, hope, and joy. These are responses that come from within you and are not necessarily derived from your outside circumstances. You can decide to remain optimistic, hopeful, and joyful.
Having the courage to intentionally choose how to respond to life is no a trivial matter. This attitude can save your life, and you have the ability to create a new world that is filled with HOPE.
Like what you read? Check out Dr. Jantz’ new book, Five Keys to Dealing with Depression, available here!
Dr. Gregory Jantz is a Mental Health Expert and author of 35 best-selling books. He is a go-to media source on behavioral health and has appeared on CNN, Fox, ABC and NBC. Under Dr. Jantz’s leadership, The Center • A Place of HOPE has been voted in the Top 10 Facilities for the Treatment of Depression in the United States.
[i] Lindsey Tanner, “Treatment for Depression on the Rise, “ Seattle Post-Intelligencer (January 8, 2002). http://www.seattlepi.com/national/article/Treatment-for-depression-on-the-rise-1076817.php