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August 7, 2019

Hope in Despair

Emotional stress is a normal part of life. As a physician, not only must I deal with my own personal stress, but I am faced with helping other people manage their stress. Prayer, friendship and professional counseling have all, at one time or another, helped me stay grounded.

Attacks to our emotional wellbeing come in many different ways. Dealing with school, family, relationships, work or finances can be demanding. We all are faced with stressful situations and have moments of depressed mood or anxiety, but what symptoms signal that something more serious is occurring?

 

Common signs of major depression include depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in most or all activities lasting for two weeks or more and accompanied by changes in sleep, changes in weight or eating habits, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, thoughts of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt, or recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.  

 

Common signs of anxiety include excessive or persistent worrying, problems with sleep, fatigue, difficulty relaxing, muscle tension, or intense fear.

What do you do if you experience these symptoms or recognize these symptoms in someone else? Ask for help. This is the first step in getting better. Remember you are not alone. God has promised, I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you (John 14:18 KJV). God also has designed that we can get help from others such as trusted family and friends or trained professionals such as doctors, counselors, teachers or pastors.

 

Tips for overcoming depression and anxiety

  • Get regular health evaluations by a trained professional healthcare provider
  • Positive thinking
  • Limit exposure to the media, including social media
  • Avoid caffeine
  • Regular exercise
  • Get plenty of sleep at night
  • Refresh your body and mind with the weekly rest of the Sabbath
  • Eat a well-balanced diet, high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods (plant-based diet)
  • Get professional help when symptoms persist

 

There is no one more familiar with the emotional challenges we face than Jesus Christ. When Christ lived on this earth, He is despised and rejected of men; a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3 KJV). Christ understands everything we go through, because He has personally endured it himself. Since He Himself has gone through suffering and testing, He is able to help us when we are being tested (Hebrews 2:18 NLT).

Jesus invites us to come into His presence. He says Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29 KJV).

We are counseled that “Satan may come to you with cruel suggestion, ‘Yours is a hopeless case. You are irredeemable.’ But there is hope for you in Christ. God does not bid us overcome in our own strength. He asks us to come close to His side. Whatever difficulties we labor under, which weigh down soul and body, He waits to make us free” (Ministry of Healing, pg. 249).

No matter what you are facing, always remember, there is hope!

Christina Wells, MD, Family Medicine; Health and Wellness director, Lake Region Conference