spirit |╦łspirit|
1 the nonphysical part of a person that is the seat of emotions and character; the soul
2 those qualities regarded as forming the definitive or typical elements in the character of a person, nation, or group or in the thought and attitudes of a particular period
1 convey rapidly and secretly

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dealing with Depression and Anxiety

There are a lot of theories about how to treat depression and anxiety but few theories on why these emotional rollercoasters show up in our life in the first place. A lot of people that experience depression and anxiety report that there lives aren't all that different than earlier times in their life when they didn't have these same experiences.

So what gives? Why would depression and anxiety suddenly show up in our lives?

If you're going to live your life believing that your body is merely a regulator of blood flow, hormones and endorphins then you'll probably conclude that your wiring isn't right. In this approach, we believe that our bodies used to keep us in balance but has stopped functioning correctly. Similar to a car's oil leak, it is as if we believe our brains are incorrectly leaking out the "panic" fluid at random times in our lives.

Or there is the theory that anxiety and depression are normal reactions to what is going on in our lives. The solution so goes that if we change what is going on in our lives, the conditions will subside. But as many have found, our lives are incredibly difficult to change. And even when they do, often these conditions remain.

And so it is no wonder that we've started medicating our way to a solution. Doctors, therapists and psychologists don't really know what is causing our depression or anxiety but they surely know how to prescribe drugs to mask the conditions.

In all these scenarios you are the victim. You've got a faulty emotional regulator, your life is out of control, or you're not coping with life. It is so easy for those that don't deal with anxiety and depression to label you as broken since they don't have these "issues." Don't you just love advice from people that aren't as broken as you are?

But let me propose an alternative theory. What if you're not broken, but rather not paying attention?

To understand this theory, first conceptualize that you are not "you" but rather a collective you consisting of different "parts." You have three parts known as the Body, Spirit and Mind.

Hold on a second before you write this off as some metaphysical love theory that can't make a real difference in your life. Hear me out and I guarantee I'll share with you a theory of conquering anxiety and depression that you can test in your life.

Let's quickly go over each part:

The Body - this one is easy, it's that physical part of you. Skin, bones, blood, brain...all the physical stuff.

The Mind - this one is a bit harder, but the easiest way to conceptualize your Mind is to recognize it as that voice in your head. You know, the voice in your head that won't shut-up? Yeah, that voice that right now is saying, "What voice?"

The Spirit - ah, the hardest part of you to conceptualize because it isn't physical nor is it constrained to your physical body. Some people call this a soul and most religions hold the Spirit to be that immortal part of you that lives on after you die.

The Body~Mind is where we focus most of our time and energy. In the most simple understanding, the Mind thinks and the Body follows the instructions (e.g. I'm hungry, goto the refrigerator). And since this is where most human beings spend their time, we wrongly assume that this is all we are. We believe we are that voice in our head and the actions it commands our Body to do.

And this is where medical and psychological science is stuck. Therapy attempts to rewire our Minds and pharmaceuticals attempt to rewire our Bodies. But neither are dealing with the root cause of why we're anxious or depressed in the first place.

Whereas your Mind is constrained to your physical Body, your Spirit is not similarly constrained. Your Spirit exists with God and is not bound by the dimensions of our Universe. As such, your Spirit is directly connected to God and other enlightened beings.

And thus we have this framework of our Spirit being both part of us and watching over us. Your Spirit is thus in a wonderful position to help you achieve your hope and dreams. To do this, your Spirit is directing to you all the life-force energy of God necessary for you to succeed. This same energy that powers everything in the Universe is also available to us in order to fuel our pursuit and accomplishment of purpose.

And there you are (presumably not paying attention). This same life force energy is being channeled to you and, without being put to use, it builds up inside of you. This excess energy plays havoc with our Bodies and mental states. And just like your home's electrical system, when too much energy builds up... we blow a fuse.

Does this sound like anxiety?

And similarly when we're depressed we're experiencing a lack of this life force energy. It isn't so much that your Spirit isn't providing you with everything you need to succeed, but rather without the channels of communication being open to your Spirit...the energy isn't finding its way to you. And without this life force energy flowing through us, we find ourselves unable to muster the energy to accomplish the simplest of tasks.

Does this sound like depression?

So instead of approaching anxiety and depression from a point of being broken, consider them an awakening to the imbalance of your Body, Spirit and Mind. Without proper balance of these three parts of you, energy management is not within your grasp. But by harnessing the life force energy of God and channeling it for the accomplishment of purpose... our hopes and dreams are well at hand.

Chopra is correct that medicating our way through anxiety and depression is not the answer. At the very time where our Bodies and Minds are awakening us to the presence of our Spirit in our lives, we're dumbing down our senses by medicating our Body and Mind. So instead of medicating away anxiety and depression, try and leverage this life force energy by recognizing its mismanagement as the cause of anxiety and depression.

For anxiety, connect with the Spirit's aspirations to unite humanity. Take that excess energy building up within you and put it to use in service of others. Yes, I know it is easier to take a pill. But instead volunteer at your local food bank (nothing heroic, just go cut carrots one morning). By putting this excess energy to work for the betterment of mankind, you'll bring yourself back to a place of balance.

For depression, recognize that in order to receive more energy you must first nurture your connections to Spirit. Put some time into re-connecting with your faith in a new way. Returning to the familiar may not be what you need. Check out a new group within your religious community or deepen your knowledge of your religion. So too open up the communications between the Body and the Spirit by investing in your Body (that's right, exercise and eating right). In this, you're pushing energy from the Body to the Spirit and pulling energy from the Spirit to the Mind. Think of it as oiling a machine that hasn't run for years.

It is impossible to work in this space without recognizing two techniques that will greatly help you regulate the energy flowing between the Body, Spirit and Mind:
  • Yoga - which actually means the balance or union of the Body, Spirit and Mind.
  • Meditation - bringing the Body and Mind to peace
I'm a big believer in these two approaches but don't consider them tools. In order to balance, you first open up the lines of communication between your Body, Spirit and Mind. And then, these techniques will both connect and awaken you to a more sensitive awareness of yourself. And that is where you'll never return to the states of anxiety and depression.

This is but a small posting on the topic. I deal with these concepts in depth in my book Inspiration Divine and the Awakening Inspiration Workshops. I'm here to help. That's my purpose.


Darwin Stephenson

"When it comes to depression and anxiety, a prescription may not be the only answer."
- What You Can Do To Cope with Depression - Deepak Chopra - Oprah.com (view on Google Sidewiki)


Lisa said...

I still think this is too simplistic, Darwin. I mean, I appreciate any movement away from strictly medication, I do.

The problem with depression is that most people do know consciously what kinds of things they can do to get themselves out of the depression. The problem is that someone who is depressed lacks the MOTIVATION to do these things. I can tell my depressed clients ALL DAY to do yoga, connect spiritually, meditate, etc. They say, "yes, I should do that. I think I will". But they don't. Because they can't. Because they're depressed.

If they can do it, they don't need medication. But if they can't do it, because they lack the motivation, or are too depressed to visualize the benefit, what then?

The metaphor I give is that it's like rowing across a lake, the rowing being the things you can do to get to the other side. But if your boat is seriously stuck in the mud, you can row all you want and you might never go anywhere.

Don't get me wrong - I don't advocate medication. I wish I never had to suggest it. But there are live brain scans (SPECT) that you can take that show physical changes in the brains of seriously depressed people. I don't think we can discount the body here, or the effectiveness of medication.

I have seen it save people's lives.

Darwin Stephenson said...

Hi Lisa:

But here's my point: the pert scans are showing the result, not the cause. And thus medication should be viewed as a tool to elevate the patient out of their depressed state so they can begin the work to reconnect. The problem I see is that our society, not necessarily the therapists, view medication as the cure.

People have been sold a story that they're broken and that the meds are going to fix them. Thus they believe that they need the meds in order to function. But the meds don't work with A LOT of depressed people. And so they go through life believing they're broken and that they can't be fixed. What good is that?

I get it that people don't do the work to get out of their depression. But that's why they need Spiritually grounded counselors like you, right?

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