“I feel very withdrawn . I feel very much to myself. The sleeping problems are back from the previous week, and there is a lot of anxiety. I’m not eating anything. I have a lot of things going on in my life…”
“I feel I’ve lost interest or pleasure in the things I used to do…..I feel blue, hopeless, down in the dumps, worthless….I don’t feel like my normal self at all. I’m not sure if I’m depressed or what…”.
These words are not fiction. They are often spoken by patients coming to the clinic seeking professional help. And more often than not, they are precipitated by stressors in the environment, external and/or internal, like losing a loved one, financial instability, being by- passed by a promotion, and many others. They describe the symptoms as mentally crippling or as one of agonizing emotional pain. Sometimes they complain about being unable to cry. When I tell them that they are having depressive episodes, they tend to deny it and insist that they are okay.
About two thirds of all depressed patients contemplate suicide. 10-15 percent of these do commit suicide and about 5 percent are successful.
Depression puts you down. It takes away everything you like and enjoy – such as playing badminton or golf, or simply by experiencing dryness in your prayer time. You lose interest and can not seem to function well.
In my more than 30 years of clinical practice of psychiatry, I have learned that the most critical stage in depression is in the early stage, the mild to moderate stage. During this time, one is capable of carrying out his/her plan of committing suicide. His/her mental faculties are operating well and they are still physically strong…. while in the severe stage, they are already very weak physically, emotionally and mentally and as such are unable to carry out their plans.
In the emergency rooms of hospitals, we find them with slashed wrists, with gunshot wounds; some have ingested potent insecticides or other toxic chemicals; others have abrasions around the neck area due to hanging. Some of these live if you catch them early. Others don’t.
If they live, there are no assurances or guarantees that they will fully recover. An extensive clinical anamnesis (the patient’s medical history) is warranted and a psychodynamic formulation is established. A treatment plan is laid down and extensive psychopharmacologic as well as psychospiritual therapies are started. A priest or other mental health experts may be recommended and the prognosis becomes better. As soon as a positive transference between the psychiatrist and the client/patient is established, the choice of antidepressants and psychospiritual therapy increases the possibility of a complete recovery.
The decision that he/she wants to come back for follow-up sessions is a good sign because it means that he/she wants to enjoy life again.
Before I end my sessions, I always remind my clients that I am just an instrument of the Lord, that God is the greatest healer of all. Telling them to stay on track with the Light that has been shown them is a must.
I have found that giving them Bible passages to reflect on is very effective. Some of my favorite passages for this purpose include “with God nothing is impossible and all things are possible with God”…or in Matthew 12:28-30 “Come to me all of you who are tired and weary….and I will give you rest…” or the promise of our Lord in Hebrews 13:5..”I will never leave you..I will never forsake you”…And the bible repeats many times, ”when you come to the end of your rope, God is there to take over.”
This is my area of responsibility where I bring Christ into my marketplace. With Christ present, the big and total change will eventually come and pretty soon the person will rediscover how beautiful is Life again after coming out from the psychological and physical abyss of depression.