Joyce Meyer - Understanding and Overcoming Depression with Linda Mintle
I know that many people suffer from depression. I'm not at all being insensitive. If it's something medical that you cannot help, then keep looking for the help that you need until you get it, but almost everything that I read on this subject says that even if depression is caused from something in your body or something medical, you still have to fight it on several levels. And so, maybe you can't do anything about the medical part, but a lot of people's depression really has nothing to do with something wrong with them. It's the way they're thinking.
Come on, does anybody know you can think yourself right into a fit? It's the way they talk, it's their outlook on life, it's not being grateful, it's not being thankful, but largely it's just by having your mind on the wrong stuff. And that's what David talks about here. Psalm 42:5, I love the way he talks to his own soul, "Why are you cast down, o my inner self? And why should you moan over me and be disquieted within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for him, for I shall yet praise him, my help and my God".
Now, if you read the first part of this, David remembers, like, look at verse 3, Psalm 42:3, "My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, where is your God"? So he was apparently going through a really rough time and even people are taunting him, saying, "Well, where is your God"? "These things I earnestly remember". I love his response, "These things I earnestly remember and pour myself out within me: how I went slowly before the throng and led them in procession to the house of God like a bandmaster before".
And so I'm not gonna read the whole thing, but there was a time when he was bringing the ark of God into the city and they threw such an outrageous party and David got so unbelievably happy that he stripped down to a loin cloth and danced in the streets. And he said, "I'm crying, but here's what I'm gonna think about". Come on now. See you can think about anything you wanna think about. You don't have to think about every bad thing that's ever happened to you in your life. You don't have to just think about all your problems all day long. You can choose to remember some good things in your life. And so can I.
Ginger: Well, unfortunately, being a Christian does not make us immune to depression. We really wish it did. But, this is really important too, our faith is not weak if we're struggling with this. You need to hear that. And Joyce wanted to go a little deeper into this topic. So, she invited Dr. Linda Mintle to program. They'll examine the spiritual and the practical methods to overcome depression.
Joyce: You know, Linda it's one thing to have a problem with no answer but aren't you glad that in God's economy there's always an answer.
Joyce: There's always got an answer. I don't think any one of us can say that we've never felt depressed.
Joyce: I've had times in my life where I have felt depressed. And, I think it's one of the most awful feelings...
Linda: It is...
Joyce: ...In the world. Because, you just feel so hopeless, and you have no interest in anything, and you don't want to talk to anybody. It's just like a black hole you don't know how to get out of. So, help us.
Linda: So, I want to first say that there are lots of reasons that people get depressed. And I think it's really important not to judge and say something like, "There must be a weakness in your faith, or you must be doing something wrong". Or, as I was going through depression, when I went through seven years of infertility, I was told that there must be sin in my life and that's why I'm not getting pregnant. So, I've heard a lot of awful things from people in the church that are just based on really bad theology. But, one of the things that people don't think about Joyce, is that, there can be depression because of an illness. So, there's depression with cancer. There's depression with heart disease. There can be depression with a number of medications that people are taking. So, a lot of your viewers are on anti-hyperintensity drugs, you know, hypertension drugs. They're on arthritis medication, maybe. So, all of these medications...
Joyce: And those medications can make you feel depressed.
Linda: Yes, they have the side effects of depression. So, sometimes, it's medication-induced, sometimes it's a medical condition that you're working through, or you have a chronic condition like heart disease and you need to be very aware that depression is one of the side effects of that because of what's going on in the physical body. Other times, it can be related to substance use. So, sometimes people get very down and you find out, oh, they're taking coCaine, or they're using marijuana on a regular basis, or they're drinking alcohol. Alcohol is a downer. And so, if you're abusing alcohol that can lead to depression. Those are the ones that people don't typically think about. And then, we know that depression runs in families. We know that about 40 to 60% of the risk with depression is genetic. It means you're vulnerable to it. It doesn't mean that you will definitely have depression. But, you have a predisposition, we call it. So that means you're much more vulnerable. And, that means that you have a temperament that's typically, more in line with the people that end up having problems with depression. Then there are environmental factors that affect you. And so, when you have genetics, environmental factors, and then stress comes in that's sort of a perfect storm for, sometimes, people developing what we call a clinical depression.
Joyce: I think that sometimes when people are having big changes in their life. We all go through changes. Your kids grow up, they leave home, you have to make a change.
Joyce: As you get older, you have to begin to make changes. And that's all a transition, and you have to really make sure that you don't get off into some kind of wrong thinking.
Joyce: Because if you do, you're in trouble. You know, I've had to make some changes in how much I do, and what I'm willing to let go of to other people, now. I've been doing this for a long, long, long, long time. And no matter what you do, you are going to get older. And I know it took me probably a year to get okay with all that because this ministry was, "My baby," you know. I work so hard. And of course, I know it's God's, but you know, we get very attached to things that are ours. And when we have to let go of some of it, it's challenging. And the enemy loves to take advantage of that, and tell you, "Well now, you're not important anymore," or, "You're not needed anymore," or this, or that, or something else. So, I just wanted to throw that out. That you know, even if it's a woman in what we call, "The change of life," or if your children are all gone now and you need to find something to put yourself into other than that, I think that just change can be an open door for depression.
Linda: You're right on. And, you could actually, speak in one of my psychology classes because we talk about transition times, times of any kind of transition. And you mentioned, when you made me think of another one I forgot, was postpartum depression, that a lot of times, because of the hormone changes, women will experience beyond the baby blues and it continues to go on. And, we have good medicines to help with that, get them through that transitioning time. So, if you're struggling with that, please get help because that can do lot of things to your thinking at the time when you're dealing with a newborn. But, go back to the transition thing. So, transitioning for anything, so it could be you move. So maybe, you got a new job and the family is moving and everything is, you know, sort of being uprooted and you're into a new place. A new job, a new home, a new baby comes to the family, all of those times of transition, transitioning into different life stages, like you mentioned, those are the times when people are more vulnerable because it creates multiple stress.
Linda: Change is stress, whether it's positive or negative. It's interesting on the stress scale, things like, weddings are on the stress scale. The birth of a baby is on the stress scale. Now, the big ones are death of a spouse, you know, divorce, the losses that we experience. But, any kind of change creates stress. And if, you're more vulnerable to those changes in terms of you're not coping because you feel like stress is coming from all angles with you, that can lead into feeling depressed.
Joyce: Well, so what are some of the answers that you as a psychologist would, if I came to your office and said, doctor Mintle, I'm really depressed. What would you tell me?
Linda: So, we've got lots of things that we can do with people. Again, figuring out what the root of that is. So, if, the root of it is, maybe, you're dealing with a medication issue, we'd obviously get you to a physician and get that taken care of. Other times, it might be situations. We might be looking at lifestyle factors. Do you need to have some kind of talk therapy where you're dealing with relationship problems? Maybe you're a victim of sexual abuse and we need to work through the abuse so we can get rid of the roots of that depression, and what's going on. You know, I've seen a lot of vets in my life with PTSD, who have had to work through post-traumatic stress disorder and deal with that so they can get that depression lifted off of them. We've got new treatments. Transcranial magnetic stimulation is one that is really an interesting treatment. It's a coil that's put on the scalp and it has a magnetic pulse to it that goes just two inches into the brain. And, it actually seems to improve mood in people that have struggled with really difficult depression. We're not quite sure what the mechanism is, we think it has something to do with the conductivity of the way the brain is messaging, and it sort of reboots like a computer but we know that, that works. We know that medications, certain types of medications can work for people. And Joyce, I want people to understand. It isn't just like, there's a chemical imbalance, and that's what it's doing. There is such a process in the brain of what happens when you're in a state of depression for a long period of time, certain structures shrink, nerve cells do not generate like they do when you're in a better state of mind, the way that the brain messages gets really messed up. And what happens with these medications, when they work, is that it changes all of that and it gets things, sort of firing correctly again. So, you should not be embarrassed if you have to, you know, use a medication. I always say to people, "If you have a diabetes, are you not going to take insulin"? If you have something that we know can help reset the brain in a positive way then go ahead and use it. But use it along with looking at whatever the situational factors are, the lifestyle factors. We mentioned exercise. Exercise is like, the new thing for everything now.
Joyce: Right, yeah.
Linda: Because it actually deals with the natural opioids in the brain, so...
Joyce: It really does help you.
Linda: It does. It releases endorphins, it improves your mood, it gets you moving again, so that is a big, big thing. And the other thing that we're seeing more and more with people is to really look at their sleep habits and sleep patterns, because we know if you have sleep apnea that can lead to depression over time. When you don't get a good night's sleep and you don't get all of that sleep cycle really going effectively, then it's like the body just can't reboot to the way it's supposed to work. And that can just wear and tear you down, and it does bad things. So sometimes, we just correct people's sleep patterns and they start to have an improvement in their mood right away.
Joyce: One of the things that I've found for me, is that if I sit around and think about me all the time, I get so unhappy. And I mean, many years ago, I just wasn't happy and there was no reason for me not to be happy. And you know, I had pretty much everything that I thought I'd ever wanted and still wasn't happy. And God just spoke to my heart and said, "You're unhappy because you're selfish". And I tell people all the time, "You can't be selfish and happy". So really, and I'm talking strictly from a spiritual standpoint here, one of the things you can do if you're feeling depressed is just ask God to show you somebody you can bless.
Joyce: And do something for somebody else. If you sow happiness into somebody else's life, then you can reap a harvest of that. And the second thing I would say that, is here again, from a spiritual standpoint is what we see David do in the Bible, he talked to himself.
Linda: Yeah, he did.
Joyce: And I don't know about you Linda, but sometimes I have to talk to myself.
Linda: Yeah, and he encouraged himself in the Lord, is what scripture says, and then...
Joyce: "Why so downcast, o' my soul. Put your hope in God".
Linda: That's right.
Joyce: And so for me, sometimes I'll just say, "Okay, Joyce, let's just get a grip here. You have nothing to be unhappy about". You know, if you've got a problem with something, lots of people in the world have problems. So, I think that having a good chat with yourself can help too.
Linda: And I think along those same lines, in the spiritual light, you look at what God told the children of Israel, you know, to constantly remember. Remember the good things, and they would have stones where they would, you know, make sort of a remembrance of something for God. And so, there's a whole body of research now, that talks about gratitude. So, gratitude research: counting your blessings. This is such a spiritual, you know, thing if you think about it, and to start to say, "What in my life today, what do I have that I can be grateful for"? A little study that had somebody just track, and say in the morning, three things that they were grateful for. They wrote 'em in a journal. Those people lifted their mood way better than the people who did not do that simple thing. So telling yourself, not only to encourage yourself in the Lord, "Put on the garment of praise," is what the scripture tells us. So, worship, I think, is a big part of it. Worship music helps lift me out of any kinda state of a feeling bad. But then, gratitude journaling, talking to the Lord, counting my blessings: that's praise, praising God for what he has done and then worshipping him for who he is can begin to bring you up.
Joyce: And even if your problem is a chemical imbalance...
Linda: It will still affect that.
Joyce: It will still affect that and it will still help you. I do think that the church and by that, I mean all Christians, have an attitude toward anxiety medications and depression medications that they should not have. Almost anybody that's taking a medication like that doesn't want anybody to know.
Linda: I know and it's sad.
Joyce: And like you said, we wouldn't care if somebody knew if we were taking...
Joyce: Medication for, you know...
Linda: Right, heart problems.
Joyce: Heart problems, or something else. And so, I'd really like to see that stigma go away and yet, at the same time, see people not always run to a pill as their answer for everything. 'cause, to be honest, a lot of times it is just your thinking.
Linda: Yeah, and in the other part of our culture is that we also like to avoid emotional things that are difficult, that are painful. We don't want to deal with the problems in front of us. So, we want to medicate our self away, so, we might medicate with pills, or alcohol, or shopping, or gambling, or pornography, you name it, all the addictive kinds of behavioral addictions and addictions that people have. Why are people doing that? They just don't want to face the day. And so, part of the work in depression and this is why it's harder when you don't take a pill for something, and I'm not saying you shouldn't take medicine, but when you don't, you have to work through your problems...
Linda: ...And deal with those problems. Get your head out of the sand, know that you can work through conflicts, or relationship problems, or boss problems, or whatever it is that you're struggling with. Get somebody to come alongside you, figure out ways to do that in addition then to these other things that were talking about with your lifestyle, and being grateful, and making sure that your thoughts are going to the positive side. It's interesting Joyce, the brain wants to go negative.
Joyce: Oh, yeah.
Linda: Isn't that interesting that God designed our brain like that? I think it's in part, so we'll be dependent on him.
Joyce: It's the fleshly part of the brain. You know, we have a mind of the flesh and the mind of the spirit and it's up to us to renew...
Linda: Renew our minds daily.
Joyce: ...Your mind daily, so you learn to think the way God intended you to think, instead of the way the world thinks, or the way the enemy wants you to think.
Linda: And you're taking your weakness and you're using God, you see, this is why we need God. God says that we're all broken. We all have weaknesses, but if we depend on him, he lifts us up. He gives us joy, he gives us peace. I don't know why anybody... When I go on secular shows a lot of times I'll say, "I just don't really understand this negativity towards the Christian faith". Because, it gives you joy, and peace. Righteousness, joy, peace, love what is wrong with that? Why wouldn't everybody want that if they could have that? It's a great life when you've got God, doesn't mean your life is going to be fabulous all the time, and you will go through difficulties. I mean, when my brother was killed from a terrorist bomb, it was horrendous. But if we didn't have God and we couldn't go back and say, "God, I don't understand this. It's horrible". I won't understand it 'til I'm with the Lord in person and then I'll get answers. But you know, I have to trust him. So, it's putting my faith in him, putting my trust in him, and then knowing that his promise is, no matter how difficult my life is, he's going to give me peace when it doesn't make any sense. And you and I have seen that over and over in people's life, where they're going through the most horrific things and they have horrible things happening to 'em and yet they say, "I just have this peace that passes understanding, it does, because of what the Lord can do. So, if you want joy in your life, not necessarily happiness, that's a whole different subject.
Linda: But, "The joy of the Lord is our strength," that comes from that strong spiritual relationship that we have with the Lord that can really help you overcome depression as well.
Joyce: Well, you know Linda, I'm very big on dealing with issues.
Linda: I know you are. I love that about you.
Joyce: Avoiding situations is never the answer.
Linda: It doesn't go well in the long run.
Joyce: I think that we've gotten a little mistaken idea about what God will and won't do for us. And so, people think, "Well, I prayed but it just didn't do any good". But I believe when we pray, rather than God doing something for us, very often he shows us what we need to do, and he will help us do that.
Linda: Yeah, I've talked about this, sometimes it's contending in the faith. Where we're contending, we hold onto the promises of God. But along the way, what are we supposed to do to really line up with what scripture says in all the things that were talking about? A healthy lifestyle, laughter is good medicine, getting good sleep, all of this is biblical, there's nothing that's not biblical. But, if you don't do the things that you know to take care of yourself, the body, the mind, and the spirit are so interconnected that it's going to affect the way that your mood is and it's going to affect how you feel. And so, you've got to address at all.
Joyce: I think a lot of times people don't realize that they're hiding.
Linda: That they're escaping, they're avoiding.
Joyce: That they're escaping. My mom never dealt with the abuse that my father perpetrated on me, even though she knew it. And, it ended up really affecting her mental health terribly. And one of the things that my mother had a real problem with was shopping. And she would buy stuff, every magazine that came in, she'd order all this piddly stuff that she didn't even really need, and get credit cards and run the balances up on 'em, and nobody'd even know that she had 'em. And I think she was so unhappy that, that was the way that she ignored her unhappiness, was just to shop.
Linda: It's a distraction. It's taking it off of the issue and doing it onto something else. And it is hard to feel pain, people don't want to feel pain. The thing I want to say to people is when you feel emotional pain, you will survive it and you will get through it and you can get through to the other side. And I saw that so often with people in therapy where they just want to avoid it, they don't want to touch that pain. But, once they touch it, and they begin to see that they can move through it, and then they can regulate their emotions as they're moving through it. And there's lots of strategies that are used to help people regulate their emotions, maybe to distract for a moment, to come back to it, to take a little time out, to then, you know, learn how to calm yourself down with some relaxation techniques, some deep breathing, some meditating on the Lord to calm yourself down again, you can gradually get through whatever that difficult situation is. And then you're dealing with the root. And when you get to the root of it, it's gone. And then you don't have to live with that hanging on to you for the rest of your life, like a heavy, you know, it's just like crushing you, because you're not dealing with the real issues that are around you.