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Welcome to My Therapist Sez, an interactive experience enriching your most important relationships. I’ll be your host and moderator as we present how to mind your depression. Depression, it can be mild, moderate, severe and for some chronically debilitating. How does one healthfully manage depressive moments or ongoing depression?
In a few moments, Dr. Julie Hayden will provide keen insights into managing depression followed by her and my responses to your questions while hopefully providing you practical depression management skill applications. Dr. Hayden is a regular presenter on this broadcast. Dr. Hayden is a licensed psychologist, Chief Academic Officer at Rhombus College, and clinical direct at Genesis Recovery San Diego.
Today’s event takes place before a live audience and live streaming while offering practical biblical solutions. It’s like having your own Christian mental health relationship doctor within the comforts of your living room. I hope you will sit back, relax, and take in these life-changing insights. Please join me as we connect with a live audience in My Therapist Sez.
Again, welcome to My Therapist Sez, and I want to welcome Dr. Julie Hayden who’s our guest. Would you join me in welcoming Dr. Julie?
Dr. Julie Hayden:
Thank you. Very excited to be here this evening with you. One of my favorite aspects of My Therapist Sez is to be able to help my brain decide what’s most important to share with you in 20 minutes. How do you sum up information on a extremely important topic in a way that’s going to benefit you most in a short period of time? So my goal is to give you the goal, to give you the good stuff that you can takeaway and use right away, whether it’s for you or someone else in your family, or your friends, people dealing with depression.
Tonight, we’ll dive in, but before I do, I’d like to give you a picture. I want you possibly to relate to this picture or have compassion for others that might be experiencing this. It’s like inside the mind of somebody possibly struggling with depression. I will start in the morning, because for some that’s the worst, when you wake up and you have a weight already on all of who you are, and you feel like you’re in a hole or a sense of doom. There’s just this sense of not wanting to wake up.
It’s not just putting the covers over your head and hoping you don’t have to, but somehow not ever wanting to. Just not necessarily always as bad as not wanting to live, but not wanting to be here, wanting to disappear, wanting for it to all go away and just a way out, a way to make it end. Sometimes it’s pain or it’s sadness, but sometimes it’s hard to even describe what it is, but it’s like you’re in a deep hole and you can’t see your way out. Sometimes there’s a light. Sometimes you don’t even see the light. If the light’s there, it might be very dim, and you’re just barely holding on to hopefully something will change that you see hope and figure out a way out of this darkness.
You can’t always explain it. It’s just hard. You can’t snap out of it, and anything you try doesn’t work, and you’re still stuck. It’s hard. It’s something that you might question why. Why do you have this? What could you do to fix it? It’s very much a desperation sometimes. I’d like you to picture that, and if that is something you relate to, I hope you get tools out of today, but if that’s not, I hope you have compassion for those that it might relate to.
So we’re going to dive in, and we’re going to look at this idea of depression. I’m going to actually have you look at this, and be a little bit brave for me tonight. When we go to this topic, remember, we might feel like we’re in a deep cave that we can’t get out of, or a dark cloud following us, and yet there’s a concept that I want you to remember to give yourself hope that might at first seem very irritating. I know it has for me at times in my life.
That’s the idea of taking responsibility, because when you feel like there’s nothing you can do, or you tried everything and you’re still in the same place, it doesn’t feel like taking responsibility is going to do any good. There’s a triangle here. The top part is why? The idea is the more responsibility you take, and we’ll talk about what that means coming up, the more options you have.
For example, if you take zero responsibility, there’s nothing you can do about your depression or whatsoever, you have zero options. What else is there to do? Unless God does a miracle, or something else happens, you have no options. You have no hope. You’re exactly where you’re at now no matter what. If there’s areas that you find that you can take responsibility for, that’s your hope, because you could change something. You could do something different, and by taking responsibility and doing something different, there’s hope that something might change.
As much as this sometimes can be irritating, it is where hope lies. So I want you to think about that as you go through and just jump in with a spirit of wanting to try something new, wanting to learn and do something different in your life when you leave, if depression is something you struggle with. We’ll look at what that is as we go along. So let’s take a look first of all at just what depression is.
We have this picture of possibly doom, or a cloud following us, or darkness. Everybody has levels, so you might just be slightly depressed, or it might be very deep inside all of who you are, but we’re looking at possibly sadness. You might find yourself crying often, maybe no energy, just lack of energy, increased need for sleep where you’re sleeping all day, or decreased sleep. The inability to enjoy something you normally would, negative thinking. If you struggle with depression or you know someone who has, this is probably something that’s easy to identify.
Everything’s negative. It could be something wonderful right in front, but they see something negative in it. It just colors everything of how we view the world. You might see irritability or anger, and this might hide. You don’t think of this with depression, but especially teenagers and men you might see on the teen side or kids irritability. Anybody could have that though also, and definitely on the male side, sometimes anger rather than what we might think of was sadness or crying.
Also, anxiety. We don’t always tie that with depression, but anxiety is very much intertwined in depression. It’s a symptom of depression. You might feel hopeless, helpless, worthless, and you might have changes in your appetite. Some people eat too much. Some people, they don’t have any appetite. So you see these changes. When we get into biology, we’ll know why we see these changes, but this is the picture of depression.
Now, I want to move on, but I want to have a game plan for where we’re going and just bring you back into the mind of depression real quick. The reason why I have that is I think of the mind as all encompassing of who we are. I want you to have this picture real quick before we move on. I’ll define mind tonight as the element of a person that enables them to be aware of the world and their experiences, to think and to feel the faculty of consciousness and thought. So much intertwined.
We’re going to look at emotions, thoughts, behaviors and attitudes tonight, but you put them all together, and we could look at that as the mind, very much the fuel and the effects of depression. So we’ll come to the mind often tonight. Let’s take a look at where we’re at in the US at least with depression. 2015 is where these statistics are coming from. An estimated 16.1 million adults in the US had at least one depressive episode in a year. Three million adolescence ages 12 to 17. Then we see that women are 70% more likely than men to experience depression in their lifetime.
So just thinking of that, it’s highly likely whether it’s not you dealing with it, somebody close to you has been dealing with depression. We’re going to look at the effects, but it can be very devastating. In our society, we see this even at worst case scenario with increased suicide rates in kids. So to find tools for this is really important, and we’ll give you some within tonight.
Let’s look at some of the factors. I love approaching it from as many perspectives if we can, but we’re going to look at it from at least three, but each one of these are very complex. The spiritual, the environmental, and the biological. Rhombus is a math term for diamond, and the reason why this has always been important to my husband and I is because anytime we’re trying to address something, it’s so complex. You deal with people, and you deal with complexity.
We like this concept of a diamond that people are multifaceted that when you look at depression or any topic, there’s so much complexity. You have to look at it from all different perspectives to figure out what you’re going to do about it. Right now, we’re going to dive and look at it from different perspectives. I believe this brings wisdom. We as believers, understand the spiritual component usually pretty well, but do we understand how our body works, how our brain works? Do we understand how God created humans to be on earth and how that influences the struggles we might have with mental health?
We’re going to dive into topics that might not come natural to you, and we’re going to start with the biblical foundation. Let’s look at the spiritual factors. It’s easy in a Christian community to jump to, well of course you have depression, what sin is in your life? Why haven’t you given this to God? Why haven’t you prayed? Where is your faith? Now of course, faith is going to be a huge powerful tool you can use as a believer. Holy Spirit is perfectly capable of working in you in powerful ways, and it is true, God could heal you if He wanted to.
That’s not the human experience typically. Sometimes He does miracles, but sometimes we have to walk through something for whatever reason. If He’s chosen to have no quick fix for depression and you’re going to have to walk through it, it’s good to understand a full picture of the spiritual implications of that. So I want to just take a quick look at all of scripture. Of course, we’ve got to start in Genesis. It’s my favorite place to start.
Remember in creation, we were created perfect. We didn’t have this problem. Adam and Eve were created perfect, in perfect relationship with God and each other. Men, women, offspring, go multiply and subdue the earth, started off perfect and then it was corrupted. Of course, God knew this was going to happen, but in that moment where sin enter the world, where Adam disobeyed and sinned into the world, you have these repercussions we still are dealing with today. So we have a fallen world.
It’s going to be beautiful. I still go to Yosemite and remember, okay? We still have beauty left, but it has gone downhill and we know that every day, it’s going downhill and it’s going to keep going. So we have a fallen world. We also have a decane body. We’re going to look at the biology of depression, it’s very much physical. We can study it. We can measure it. That kind of corruption of our physical body is a leftover effect of what happened many, many years ago.
We’re going to have problems with our body. We’re going to have wrinkles, and grow old and die. This is leftover from the curse that began so long ago that we will one day be freed from, but not while we’re alive on earth. We also have Satanic influences. Again right there in Genesis 3, Satan comes to deceive humans, but he’s still with us. He still influences. He is still in our world, and there’s powers and principalities in this world that will influence us.
Now, the idea of feeling like you’re worthless, and you’re going to be a failure, and what might come with depression? Yeah, absolutely Satan could be involved in that. He knows how to create doubt and fear rather than faith. So that’s a real factor, and yet there’s more to it, I want to get to it, but that is a true factor that could be influencing everything. That’s external.
We also have a sin nature within us. At the moment of salvation scripture says, “A Holy Spirit seals us” and we have access to the power of the Holy Spirit within us to conquer sin, and yet we still have this sin nature and we’re still in this battle. Paul writes about it so well that we are smack in the middle of the battle still, and so we have a natural tendency to go toward evil, and to go away from God in us, and that’s a battle.
Yes, there’s spiritual factors at play when we’re looking at depression. It’s very real. It’s not the only factor of humans on earth though. I want to expand and go into the next section. Let’s look at environmental. Now, it’s tricky when you get into environmental and biology, because one of my favorite phrases is there’s never a time our environment is without our biology, or our biology without our environment. They influence each other, and we know more and more about this as we know the brain.
Our environment and our behaviors, and what’s around us actually changes our brain. So with that information, I’m going to go over each, but they’re intertwined. Now as believers, we can also see our spiritual side is not separated from our physical, here, those influence each other. If you have a spiritual negative force on you, that may influence you physically and vice versa. If you’re doing something and your behavior’s against what God wants, that might impact your spiritual side, right?
All of these are intertwined. So we’re going to look at each separate, but I want you to have that in your mind. They play off each other, and they’re all very powerful. With environmental factors, trauma is a huge researched aspect that we didn’t always see clearly. I put the ACE study, you can look this up, it’s Adverse Childhood Experiences through Kaiser back in the 90s. We’re still gaining value out of this huge study, because they were looking for health consequences, but what they found is the childhood experiences like abuse or parents getting divorced, or a parent being an alcoholic, or violence in the home, that these childhood experiences actually had a huge impact on adult functioning, and in a number of areas such as the likelihood they’d be moving toward an addiction, or have depression, or have anxiety, or another mental health issue, or get in trouble with the law.
That those negative childhood influences had a huge impact on adult functioning. So we know this, trauma impacts. We also see that modeling impacts. If you have children you know, you try your best but they copy you. It’s not just that you teach them something. You have to be whoever you want your child to be, because they will copy you. It’s the most powerful form of learning. So we see that you have generational patterns, just as much as you … This is not every family I’m sure, but I think of an Italian family, I think of loud and fun, and boisterous. Well, generation after generation after generation.
Same thing can go with depression and anxiety and various kinds of ways of dealing with difficult situations. Children are watching how a parent handles it, and they will copy. So that’s just one factor, but it is powerful. If you think of chaos. Like one person in the family bringing in the drama of everybody else, it’s powerful. You also have rewards. What you may gain and what you may lose. If you are enjoying something and getting positive aspect, like if you go to somewhere and they treat you well, you’re going to want to go back.
When you’re dealing with depression, if you are getting some reward out of whatever’s coming with that depression, it may actually work as a trap to keep you stuck. So you’ve got to look for where you’re getting rewards or what are you avoiding? What is it causing you? You want to look at the balance. You might not think there’s anything beneficial about depression, but you’ll be surprised. So look at it honestly and figure out, is there something that I actually enjoy about being stuck?
Do I think so poorly of myself? It feels more comfortable to be deep down here in depression than it does to be healthy. So just look honestly at that. Let’s go to biological. We’re going to have to go a little quicker on some of this. Let’s look at biological. You’ve got genetics involved. We see this. We can test this. Twins that are raised separately have a higher propensity of having depression if the parent does. There’s some kind of a genetic component. It’s not a gene. It’s not a guarantee, but they have a higher likelihood. There’s some vulnerability that’s passed down genetically in families.
We also have, remember, brain development. Every experience a kid goes through, it’s wiring in the brain that you use to interpret the world around you. If something’s happening as a kid like the person that’s supposed to love you is treating you terrible, that’s a message in your brain. You’re going to interpret the whole world by, deep early in those years, you can get a sense of, “Probably everything’s going to work out, or why try? You’re just a failure.” Those are deep messages that come, and that’s wiring in the brain to take with you to adulthood. That impacts depression.
We also have neurotransmitters. You have serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine. These are powerful neurotransmitters chemicals in the brain. I could take your blood and test your serotonin level. This is why it’s going to influence your eating, your sex drive, how you sleep, because it’s the same part of the brain that these neurotransmitters go to. If your chemicals are out of whack, it’s going to affect all these automatic systems in your body.
So having that understanding could help at least gain an awareness and a compassion. It’s not just faith. It is spiritual probably, but it’s not just faith or lack of faith. There’s something chemical happening as a consequence of being humans that we probably have an imbalance. You don’t always need medication, but sometimes you do. Sometimes it could help, and that is because of those chemicals being out of, I’ll just say out of whack. You guys get it.
I’d like to look at the mind to jump to tools. When I look at the mind, I put here, let’s jump to that if you don’t mind. Let’s look at attitudes, emotions, thoughts, behaviors. Really, attitudes are a combination of emotions, thoughts and behaviors. If you could sum it up right now, what you’re going to do is filter lies versus a truth. Bottom line, lies versus a truth. Here’s what’s cool from a spiritual perspective, you’re either walking in a flesh or in a spirit. In lies or in truth. You could sum a lot of real quick.
So let’s look at attitudes, and we’re going to bring lie versus truth to this. Ready? I’m going to move pretty quick, and you guys can come back later with questions. Attitude, gratefulness. If a negative attitude gets to you and everything’s miserable and everything’s terrible, now that’s chemical. I don’t even judge you for that, and I have been in a similar place, but the bottom line is it’s probably not accurate. If you’re looking at it with God’s perspective at your life, you probably have a lot to be grateful for.
The truth is you have more to be grateful for than you see right now. So gratefulness can be a powerful tool to fight that. Taking responsibility for your thinking, for how you feel, for what you do even if you don’t feel like it can be a sense and attitude of who you are that could fight depression. Faith versus fear. What I mean by attitude is all encompassing of everything do enter with faith or are you coming with fear?
Emotions. I want you to be careful to filter emotions. Just because you feel it does not mean it’s true, does not mean it’s powerful. If you are really jealous, it doesn’t mean the person cheated on you, right? It’s a feeling. Maybe they did, but that’s just a feeling. You have to filter it and make sure they’re accurate. Don’t give more weight to emotions than they deserve. Try to bring in some logic to the emotions. Now, they’re powerful. Try to see if it’s accurate.
Communicate with others how you feel. Pay attention to them. Get to know your body’s responses. So if you come, you go, “It’s okay. I don’t need to be scared of this.” It’s probably not going to last. Everything’s fine. Ride the waves. It might get better soon. Don’t just think, “Terrible feeling. This is the end of the world. No, it’s bad right now. Let’s see what happens tomorrow. Everything is okay.” Bring some clarity to those feelings.
The biblical worldview is talking about sometimes we do suffer. Sometimes we do have pain. So that’s okay too, and to take that and to be embracing to some extent, because as you embraced it, you get to know it. You understand it more. You’re not so scared of it. Then maybe moving forward from it is where it improves as you move on.
Thoughts. How we interpret things matters. How we feel and what we do with the world. So if we have a thought that says, “I’m a failure. Everything’s worthless. I don’t even know why I tried. Nobody loves me.” These negative thoughts that come with depression, are they true? Do you ever stop and counter them, and wonder, and question, and poke holes at them like, “Okay, well what’s accurate now?” This is what comes initially, but let’s filter this. Is this real? How do you get to truth?
To fight, to evaluate your thinking, to keep accurate thoughts is probably the best tool for depression, because your natural thoughts might be lies, and then they fuel the depression to get worse. Memorize scripture. Oh, I got some good ones. The be anxious for nothing, I’m keeping that. Trusting the Lord with all your heartily not on your own understanding. Get some of these verses where you just fill your mind with them when you need them. That’s a powerful tool you can use. Talk with others.
They’ll catch things before you do. You won’t even realize you’re depressed, and you’ll be talking with somebody and they’re, “What’s wrong with you?” Why are you talking like that? You dove into the depression and didn’t even realize it. So talk with others that will keep you up. Behaviors. Fake it till you make it. There’s lots of research that shows this could be valuable. So you wash your face for women put on makeup, dress up, get out there even if you don’t want to.
Sometime you have the behavior has to come before you want to. Push it, exercise, push yourself to do the behaviors that you know would help the depression even though you don’t want to, and you’re going to have to fight, because nothing on you is just going to want to do it. Here’s some behaviors. Exercise, sleep, hygiene, talking with others, listening to music, reading the bible, prayer, relaxation techniques, find things that work, be creative, find ways to fight the depression. Don’t just give up. Keep in the fight for it. Do something different. I don’t care what it is. Think of something, be creative, go do it.
Stimulate your brain in a different way could help fight the depression, because it brings some of those good chemicals back into your brain. Don’t do it alone. If you need to, go get help. Go talk to a therapist. Start at your church. Find a good place. Now, the next thing I’m going to leave you with is my absolute favorite, because it’s so easy to just give up or think there’s no hope. Here’s how you can view everything. Sometimes we gain ground. Sometimes we hold ground. Sometimes we minimize losses, okay? Sometimes you’re doing great and you’re running in life with your family, your goals, your spiritual walk, fantastic.
Sometimes it all goes wrong. Freeze, hold ground, don’t give up. Just put your feet and just hold on tight. What do I got to do to make this day not go where it looks like it’s going? Just try to hold ground and sometimes you fail. You just blew it, and you’re going the wrong direction. As soon as you realize, minimize losses. What can you do right now to pull it together? What can you tell your kids? What can you tell the people you just screamed at? Whatever the consequence is for you going too far, stop and minimize losses.
If you can frame everything in that, it gives you something to do each moment, each day to push on to get out of where you’re at in the level of depression. Progress is a good thing. It might not ever disappear, but is today a little bit better? Are you pushing towards at being better? Thank you very much.
Thank you, Dr. Julie Hayden. If you have a question by the way, please raise your three by five card in the air and one of our host will come by, pick that up, and bring that to us. So if you have a question or you’re thinking about it now, please write it down. Put that up in the air, and we’ll come retrieve that, bring it to the front, and it’ll be part of our discussion. If you go ahead and do that, and you would like another card to write another question, just raise your hand in the air and we’ll get you a question.
I love that statement Dr. Hayden. You’re gaining ground, you’re holding ground, and you’re minimizing losses. It’s actually moving in a direction. We know that often times, our feelings will precede our thoughts. Some believe you have a thought, and then the feeling happens so quickly, we’re already there in the feeling. So thought is so important. I know there’s quite a discussion about that. There’s four different theories on it, but that discussion about the idea that how we think about something, can you put your foot in front of the other? It’s the old adage out of Isiah that I will sometimes, we fly over a situation. Sometimes we work through the situation, but sometimes it’s inch by inch. It’s where we just take one step at a time.
Now, if we can, there’s several of these areas that we want to deal with if we can. Again, your questions where we welcome, usually we’ll have questions that you have that we can try to respond to directly. So just hold that up in the air if you would your three by five card.
If we can go back to this idea of I’d like to separate the idea of men and women. Why is it? Let’s talk directly about the 70% of women face depression over men when we have more men committing suicide than we do women. So let’s talk about that a little bit if we can just to get a sense of depression. Do you mind sharing a little bit, why is it so high? You listened to Dr. Hayden show us the statistics, which are quite provocative that 70% of depression tends to be for females-
They’re I think was 70% more likely. So I think the one aspect is a tendency of men and women and what’s seen in society, right? So I do see broadly men aren’t going to display if I was using my DSM, which is how I diagnose people, if I was using that, the symptoms of depression, a woman will feel more comfortable showing to everybody. I don’t know if necessary women are more likely to have depression or how we define depression, women will be more comfortable showing those, because you do have the statistics on suicide. So just to give an idea, women will attempt suicide a lot more often, but men commit suicide a lot more often.
I think it just shows you basically when they have depression, you’re not going to see it and then it’s over. So it’s a little different dynamic. We sometimes like to pretend there’s not differences in men and women, but I think there are some at least that we can see in how we are in our society, how we display emotions. So I think that’s part of it is that women are showing the sadness, the emotions we can categorize that, we might never notice what a man’s going through until it’s too late. So that’s something to learn from as well.
For men, to figure out how to get help if it’s not necessarily displaying emotion where and think of that, so it may be anger, but I’m not sending him to get help for depression. I’m putting him in a class for anger. So we might not catch it the same.
Yeah, a lot of issues relate to that, because when we think of anger, for men that’s where men will tend to go because they may not be as readily aware, which is one thing you said that was so helpful for all of us that if we can be aware of what our emotion is, because a lot of times, men are not aware of the emotion. They just know that they’re feeling anger, which can be a primary emotion that tends to be a secondary emotion and usually sadness or something else is below that.
There is research to suggest that women face depression almost twice as much as men. There’s different research about this, but that the 70% I know was likely and that you see close to 60 to 70% of those who contact a therapist tend to be female. So you’re suggesting that they more likely will share the emotion, bring the emotion out. So with that, when we look at the difference between men and women, a question has arisen here and that is from the audience and that is, “What is the best way to come alongside someone with depression?”
Then the question is, “Do we only empathize with them? Do we rescue them from their circumstances? Do we give them advice?” Again, the question that’s been raised is, “What is the best way to come alongside someone with depression?” How would you respond to that?
Very good. One thing is probably realistically you can’t rescue them. So the hard part is to wrestle yourself with that feeling that you cannot rescue them. So just to identify it that you’re going to love them, see them in pain, want to do something and you probably cannot. It’s their road to walk. Now, we can be supportive for example not judging them, because I think it’s easy to judge and to get irritated and impatient like, “Okay, you’ve been depressed for a while now. When is this over?”
You have no idea what walk they’re going to be taking. So to be compassionate, to be caring, those types of things is something you can do. You can find some moments to have conversation about have you thought about getting help? Have you thought about talking to somebody about this? If you’re not trained in it, maybe you are, but if you’re not, push them in a direction to see hope. Because they’re probably think, “Why? What’s anybody going to say? What am I going to go talk to somebody about and then I’m going to be better?”
So having them see hope in that possibly to reach out for somebody to help because it’s real. There’s been a lot of times I’m sure Dr. Welch has experienced where somebody comes out of it. Usually, for a counselor, it’s walking with them down in this deep dark place and then out. So you may not be able to do that, but somebody should. Who can it be? Pointing them in the right direction for help.
Yeah, it’s well said. A lot of times with depression that the person may not even be aware they’re depressed. Maybe they’re driving down the street and then all of a sudden they realized that the steering column has come up here so they’ve slumped down. So physically, they’re escaping their world. Often times, I don’t know if you experience this, a lot of my patients over the years have said, “It’s just the lack of feeling.” Sometimes we think of this dark hole, or some people will say it’s agonizing pain.
If you think about it without having emotion, that is pain. The scriptures talk about that he will guard your heart, and mind and soul. Heart really is your affect, which means that’s your emotion. A lot of scripture starts with emotion even we see that with Jesus in Lazarus where He knew His friend might not be well. He had heard about it, but when He arrived, His friend was dead, and His first response even though He’s fully God, fully man was to weep over His friend. He let Himself feel.
So often times when we’re walking along someone, with someone that they don’t have that empathy based relationship within their life and just showing empathy is a remarkable gift. We were told that that will even create some level of brain secure, secure brain in the sense that you’re empathizing with another person and they’re feeling a value, and a lot of times people depressed don’t feel a value.
The another question we have, and we have several, which is great. We have some several question. Anything else you would like to add on that first question, what is the best way to come alongside someone with depression?
No. You said that the other aspect is just how powerful relationships are for healing the brain, which really depression you’re talking actually about a brain problem. So just knowing that that’s valuable. Having yourself have peace, knowing that if you’re in a relationship with that person, that’s probably actually impacting them in some positive way. So you are doing something.
Yes. When we think of little children, the one way they’re valued is when someone listens to them. Correct? I always think of teachers. They know how to do this. They see the child. They teach publicly, you’re in a private setting, and they see a child and they actually kneel down to the level of that child, almost eye level, and they will begin to listen to that child, which brings value. That does change when you think about your serotonin, your dopamine levels, your norepinephrine, some of these chemicals within us, that can change those chemicals.
That’s what you were talking a little bit about homeostasis for those who hopefully begin to stabilize. Keep in mind as we’re talking this evening, when we look at depression, it is based in biology. So something is not homeostatic, which means that it’s not congruent. It’s not at the level that it needs to be for you to feel good. Have you ever awakened in the morning, and for whatever reason you didn’t get any sleep? Maybe you awakened throughout the night, and you got up, and you almost fell over when you stood up, and you’re just feeling sluggish, you don’t have much feeling at all, you’re lacking feeling. That’s a way to feel empathetic or empathic understanding with another person that this lack of, say this lack of feeling.
A person’s asking a couple of biological questions here, if I may move to that one. That is, “I’m taking pills and I’m scared to stop, but I want to be able to live with them. What do you suggest?” This is a very wide open question. We don’t know what the medications are, but I’m taking pills. I think this is related to depression I’m assuming, and I’m scared to stop, but I want to be able to live with them. What would you suggest?
So one thing, how I describe medication for depression is, because it is something that you could really measure. You could scan your brain and see it. You could draw your blood and somebody would know if you’re depressed or not by the level of serotonins. If you think of serotonin being produced in an appropriate way, it’s like “Click, click, click, click, click.” Then something is off towards not producing like it’s supposed to. What some of the antidepressant medication does is basically make it work, okay?
It’s like, “Meh” and then it starts working again. So the reason why that can be beneficial is that sometimes it kicks your brain back and to get to work properly. So what would happen after a while and after learning other ways to manage depression so you are ready, set, start titrating up. Now, I’m not telling you to do this. Talk to your doctor, but what would happen possibly is you start to go off little by little by little, and your brain keeps producing the proper amount of serotonin.
So you can go off medication and everything’s fine, but sometimes that’s not what happens. For whatever reason, whether it was something earlier on, whether it’s actual trauma to your brain like you hit your brain, whether it’s your chemicals, whatever the source is, you start to go off the medication little by little, and you get more depressed. The serotonin is not fixed. It’s still not working.
It is possible that you might need that medication longer, or you work with a therapist and you find other ways to get more serotonin into your body. So there’s lots of different options. I would always communicate with whoever’s prescribing the medication, because you don’t want to do any shock on your body, or you have different problems to deal with. So if you talk with your doctor, whatever you do, you do it slowly. There’s lots of options.
I would just make sure professional’s involved so that you’re safe. That’s all. You want to talk with a doctor, get a therapist, have a game plan. If you have a goal to get off medication, then a therapist could write you a game plan and see what happens. It might not work, but if it’s about guilt, I can tell if they meant to say they want to be off, or they want to be okay taking medication.
One thing is we are fine taking medication for diabetes. We’re fine using medical for other things. We don’t view mental health as medical, but the more and more that we study the brain, it’s very physical. Now, you can do things without medication to get out of depression because of how our body works. So you don’t have to have medication. There’s lots of options, but just to remember, it is very much a medical chemical type of a problem.
I hope that helps. If it’s working and your life is so much better, that’s okay. If you are completely against it, there’s probably other things you could do too. Find somebody. If they’re not good, find somebody else. Because remember, not every therapist is wonderful. So you go to one like, “I don’t even know what this is doing.” Well, go find somebody else. There are good counselors out there. See if you can find something that helps you.
Yeah. Does that make sense with the titrate is that what you’re looking at is if it became very humid and hot in here, each of our bodies independent of the others would begin to perspire. That’s homeostasis, which begins to cool the body down. Now, if it got too hot too quickly and our bodies couldn’t respond to that, we could expire. We could die at that point. So it’s very important that we let the body move in a way that helps it to be more stable. Like the old adage that is probably less stressful on your body if you eat small amounts of food throughout the day rather than gourd yourself in a meal.
Because your body’s having to take in all that nutrition try to distribute it and do the various things that the body does to absorb it, assimilate it, and that sort of thing. So it’s important like at a hospital where I used to work, we had people that were wanting to actually do a way with and stop their alcoholic behavior. The worst thing you could ever say to someone is just stop drinking, because if they have had enough ingestion of alcohol, I think it takes what? For one ounce, it takes almost one gallon of water to sluff off that one ounce of alcohol.
That what happens is they have decreased their opiates in their system. So if they just stopped ceased with the alcohol, their body could go comatose. Their body could go into a convulsion and they could die. So this titrate, this idea is you’re decreasing it in a certain way that the body can respond well in a homeostasis place.
Now, if I may just continue with this, there’s another question that’s been raised. How do you know when medication is necessary? Dr. Hayden, what do you think? When do you know medication is necessary?
Usually, and this is a personal, I mean, professional but personal is different people have different opinions about medication. So that’s not my frontline. That’s not what I usually start with. If you talk with a medical doctor or a psychiatrist, why bother with all this? Just take medication I don’t usually start with medication that’s somewhat personal, I’ll tell you that. You’ll have different opinions, but if you are working with a therapist and nothing seems to work, that’s a good sign that medication may help, and it does not have to be forever typically.
Basically if you’re in bed, worst case scenario suicidal, how are you going to participate in therapy with somebody? You can’t get out of bed. So looking at the severity of symptoms, if it’s really that bad, how are you going to use some of these other tools well? Medication sometimes can bring you up enough to where you can participate well in other forms of therapy that can move you along. So that’s one thing.
Basically, if nothing’s working, it is worth a try to get you out of that rut. It doesn’t need to be something that you’re scared of that you’ll get trapped. Antidepressant medication in particular are not usually addictive. Now, it would tend to be something you could have hopefully help and then go off little by little. Maybe not. I never say anything is a guarantee. I have no idea, but especially with medication. I have no idea. I’m not a medical professional, but that’s something to consider.
Now, there are a lot of things you can do. If you have a good therapist, there’s a lot of tools out there that work really well to pull somebody out of depression. So if you’re nervous about medication, start there and see what they have to offer, see if it does help.
Yes, because one of the things that will happen, I try to teach this to my students at the university, and that is that it’s very important anytime you have anyone that comes into your office and they express some level of depression that you want to encourage them or invite them to ask that client, when was the last physical you had and have a biologist, which is the medical doctor determine, whether there are some issues in the blood work. You don’t normally determine depression in blood work, but you can see variances within blood work of course that will describe where there’s a lack of ability like in vitamin D.
I’m not a medical doctor, but even vitamin D can create a sense of sluggishness. So it’s important that when you’re working with a therapist or a … I think it just went out. No, that you were the pastor or therapist that it’s important that you look at a biologist that has ruled out if there’s some other aberration within your body, even having the thyroid checked and other areas of your body that would be inclusive in this.
So when we think of medication, one of the things I just want to suggest this as we’re talking, as you can see Dr. Hayden is so knowledgeable about, you’ve worked at hospital settings, you’ve taught at the university, has just enormous, tremendous background in this area. She is a trauma specialist by the way. A lot of people with trauma have depression. So they tend to go hand in hand. Just like anxiety, you talked about it, it fuels. Anxiety can fuel depression.
So that’s why we call it comorbidity that they tend to happen together. If you’re depressed, you’re likely anxiety-ridden. If you’re anxiety-ridden you often times have depression. That’s like if I lost my job, I’d be depressed, but I’d have anxiety thinking, “Can I get another job?” See how those go together? It’s important with medication that you follow the leadership of the biologist who’s the medical doctor.
So many people, and I’ve had my patients do this. They’ll come in and they’ll say, “Well, I was prescribed this, but I’ve just stopped.” I don’t quite do that. It’s not real professional, but it’s the sense like, “Wait, wait, wait. This person, she or he’s a specialist in this area. That’s where they’re spending their career. I would invite you to go back to that specialist and talk about your idea of changing the medication.” So we need to be very careful about following the lead of that biologist.
If you don’t have trust in that biologist, see another person that has the skill if you’re questioning that particular medical doctor. When we think about this, I’d like to go to another question if I can. This one was texted to me, which is wonderful, because we can have text from around the world. Sometimes we do. This particular question, “I worked with the senior community and I encounter so many seniors who no longer feel like they contribute to society. Yet there seems to be a lack of resources for seniors with depression or other mental illness. Their medical doctors are those who are working with them, prescribe meds and nothing else, and most do not like to take them. Are there other options for them?” What a wonderful question. It’s such a need.
You can already see Dr. Hayden’s face, I’m looking at thinking of mine, “This is a very significant need in our society.” So whoever asked the question, it’s a paramount question that needs to be addressed, the issues surrounding the question.
I love the question, because it helps me put the need out there too that this person already sees a lot of depression in seniors gets missed, because of other things that they’re dealing with. Medical problems, loneliness, just is lumped into their life timeframe, and yet they’re significantly depressed. So, to recognize it first is helpful. It sounds like somebody has and they actually are on medication, which is great. Yeah, I think that just shows you in development at the end, one of your greatest needs is to show legacy, that your life meant something, there’s something valuable.
So if you’re lacking that connection or what you are giving to society at that time, that result is despair. So it can increase depression. I would highly suggest finding something for that population to do that has meaning. I will give one story. I had a person that was working with an elderly Korean man in a homeless shelter. He was depressed, and he was ready to commit suicide. It was really bad.
She met with him. She is a therapist, but he thought he was helping her. She helped him reconnect with family, and he started gardening. In the homeless shelter, on the outside, he started gardening and he would talk with her, and he would ask her. At the end of therapy, he would ask her, “Did I help you today?” She go, “Yes. Thank you so much.”
I always remember that. It was so valuable for him to have a task. He poured into it, and he had meaning and purpose. He reconnected with family, because they get left alone, and that was an important factor. If there’s a way, and there might not be, but if there’s any way you find some task for a person to feel valuable that they’re contributing, that’s extremely important. If you can, I would highly make some … “Let’s find something.”
Now, it has to be meaningful, but find something that they can contribute, because they can. There’s going to be something valuable. The other aspect is storytelling. We might think this anyways, but for a person to tell stories, it just heals. It heals the brain. It brings legacy. So as they’re telling a story, if you could say, “Wow, how did you do that? That’s so impressive.” You bring these ways for them to see their life did matter.
Your grandchildren must be so impressed with da, da, da. You bring in legacy and meaning and value out of their story. So having them tell the story, finding people somewhere to come hear their story can also be something very healing.
The beauty of stories, Dr. Curt Thompson MD, the book is called, “The Anatomy of the Soul,” and about 146 to 148, he talks about stories. What he says is what happens, he’s a psychiatrist, he works when a story’s told, you see that the brain actually intersects. The two hemispheres connect in a way. If you look at poetry, because it’s not linear, typically poetry is not linear, and so what happens is it creates an element of creativity.
When we’re helping someone, we’re being creative. When we tell stories, you’ll look in the bible. Jesus told stories, correct? He spent a great amount of time creating a story to be told. When we tell our story and there’s someone to hear it, we’re of value. I think of Karl Menninger, who wrote a very famous book in about 1969, “Whatever Happened to Sin,” but he’s the one who said your first statement and that doing something for someone he said, “If you’re depressed, lock up your doors, go across the tracks, and do something for somebody.”
What he was essentially saying is when we reach out in depression, we don’t want to do anything but isolate. Then we think of John 10:10 A, the first thing the devil wants to come and do is to steal our joy. Kill, steal and destroy, right? That’s 10:10a, and then of course he says in B, that he’s come that we might have life, and have it to the full, and we have life when we give to others.
So it’s a very powerful idea of giving finding something maybe that that person could do. I love that story where at first the thought was, “Well, I’m really helping the other person when we help another person, we’re helping ourselves.” Isn’t that why we are so healthy is therapists were always listening and trying to help other people. No, I’m just kidding, but we’re trying to help people all the time.
There’s a question about supplements that related to the biology, and if we can just maybe address this just momentarily, and that is, “Can natural supplements,” this is a question of one of you in the audience, “Can natural supplements be taken instead of some of the prescription meds for depression or anxiety?” This is the question I’m asked on a daily basis, and I cannot answer, because I’m not a medical doctor. It’s out of my scope or practice and training, right? You would say the same way.
I was going to say, I plead the fifth.
Yes, exactly. That’s a tough question.
For anybody online, they could Google me and find me. I do have good connections with people that have, that is their expertise. So you can find some good information of people that have researched it and find various things out there. So come find me, and I’ll hook you up with those who would be able to answer.
Yes, thank you. Then why do these behaviors improve the moods when you read the bible, pray or talk with others? I want to segue back to what we were talking about, the story and all of that. Let’s talk for a moment. That was one of your major sections tonight, and that is the spiritual, and there is lots of research, particularly in cognitive behavioral therapy that would suggest that it is very helpful. It’s one of the modalities that we have. We work from that has spiritual research component to it.
I know you’re an expert in CBT without a doubt, and that is why do these behaviors, in other words, say a depressed behavior or depression, why do they improve these moods, improve when you read your bible, when you pray and when you talk to others? This is the question that you’ve raised.
Sure. I think broadly where he’s going with the CBT is we think all the time and we interpret our surroundings more than we even realize. Every day, a person says something we make an interpretation, a conclusion about on and on and on. When we’re depressed or eventually we will be depressed, because of how we interpret things, our thinking misjudges we’re wrong, whether for wherever that started, we judge somebody as being rude to us and they hate us, and they think that we’re an idiot. So we make misjudgments all the time.
So one component of some of those tools is for in scripture, we’re reminded of truth often and God will use that, the Holy Spirit will guide you. You’ll be reading, and it’ll be telling you truth, and keeping that truth in your mind can protect when our brain goes off on a tangent and that is not true. So to help us keep in truth. The other component though is when you’re talking with others, it’s basically outside of our mind. If we go into a corner somewhere and we’re alone with our thoughts, and we’re depressed, sometimes that’s a very dark place.
When we start talking with another person who are outside of our mind, it can help keep us grounded in reality. So when we’re talking, now it’s external and then we can get their feedback. I remember a specific person that had no idea how depressed they were. They’re talking with their friend and their friend says, “What is wrong with you?” Talking with their friend, their friend notice in their language. Everything is the worst thing ever, and depressed, and it was very obvious, but the person didn’t even notice. They’re so used to it.
When we’re talking, we get that mirror. I’ll steal this from somebody, she knows who she is. Mirror right back at us. We can see what our problems are, what we’re dealing with. So talking with other people, that’s another benefit. If you’re talking to any kind of struggle, schizophrenia, bipolar, all this I have watched how talking with other people grounds people in reality.
Sometimes we could say reality, truth, accuracy, these kinds of things start blending in and that’s where you want to be. When you get into depression, you go off on a tangent where it’s just not true. You’re in more lies than truths sometimes. So pulling yourself back into reality and truth, people can usually do that for us.
So the none truth, Jesus said, “I’m the way, the truth and the life.” So when we’re reading the truth, and the beginning was the word, Logos, in other words, in the beginning was Jesus, and He was the word and He is the word. So the idea is when we’re listening to truth, it is captivating us and giving us new mental neurological development. Now, it’s very interesting you were talking about when two people are talking and one is really trying to understand, we always think about that as hard work. It does take energy to listen.
However, when you are listening, you’re showing empathy, and if you’re showing empathy, you are changing your brain in a way because you’re trying to understand another person, which takes an entire person. I always liken it to students at the university they’ll ask, “Okay prof, how do you go from one session to the next and you’re able to listen to these people.” The point I have tried to figure out how to have this remarkable statement to share with them, to show how brilliant I am which I’m not, but think of some great, and the only thing I’ve ever come up with is I’m present with them.
So when I’m present with my client, actually my blood pressure goes down unless people are screaming or yelling, but my blood pressure goes down, and I have a better sense. I’m more grounded, a better sense of who I am, and when I’m fully present with the person, I’m fully human I believe. Bringing in hopefully a specialty there, but that’s an example of when we’re listening, you were talking about people like I know you work with many schizophrenics over the years and because of the hospital setting and all, but that idea of being understood rather than a double-bind experience that can happen to schizophrenics by family members or just their own experience.
That act of listening, there’s an exchange of empathy. When someone tries to understand your story, it means number one, I’m of value and then if I’m of value, then I can think more in truth than in fear. I think you were saying faith versus fear. You started your speech today. That was beautiful. I hadn’t thought of it quite that way you said it, but we’re either living in faith or we’re living in fear.
Of course, that’s why Jesus said, “So, fear not, I am coming to you. So I’m going to be present with you.” The beauty of the Christian walk is as you said earlier right at that inception of accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and savior, the Holy Spirit is part of that of course, and that means he will never leave us, never forsake us. So we’re hearing truth if we allow him to speak truth to us through God Himself who lives within us.
So it’s powerful that idea of storing, which is so important. May I just move to another phase of our evening here. We have just less than 10 minutes about eight minutes left here. That is I’d like to go to another question. This question is, “If you have multiple problems,” so we’re developing it further than oppression Dr. Hayden. “So if you have multiple problems such as depression, eating disorder, OCD et cetera, can therapy work to help you progress and be healed at the same time in all of these areas?”
So it’s asking if you have multiple diagnosis, can you be healed in all of these areas? I’d love to hear your response to that.
Sure. I might as well add in addiction there too. Maybe not this person, but a lot of times people who end up drinking will be the common one with depression. So it works against you, because drinking will depress you then you drink more. Then other types of addictions as well, but a lot of times, and this is different for every person, but a lot of times there’s a story. I don’t know how many times people don’t necessarily remember their story, that there’s a road of why they are where they’re at now. Eating disorders, depression, anxiety, other things like addictions.
So sometimes it’s in that story that it makes sense why you’re here today with multiple difficulties. What therapy does a lot of times is it goes back and starts at the beginning. How I view it, not everybody, but I do love CBT, so how I view it sometimes is going back to the beginning, and as you tell your story, trying to make sure we bring truth to that story and move it forward. Sometimes there’s healing that happens along the way. Then when you get up to today, a lot of times there can be healing and freedom.
So that’s just like a quick view. It’s much more complex than that. There’s a number of tools that we’ve developed over the years that can work really effectively. Some cool brain stuff now we have available that we didn’t always have. So yeah, healing is possible. I usually tell people, especially if there’s addiction involved, but it’s going to suck. It’s going to be hard like a hard road that you’re walking to get to that healing.
The reason I say that is I need somebody tough, ready to walk that road with me, I’ll be able to take you there, but it’s going to be a hard road till we get to that place. I had the privilege of watching many, many people and my own road of healing to be free from some of this. So I absolutely know it’s possible. I have a ton of hope for people. There’s a lot of good people out there that will walk with you to get there. Yes, there’s hope but it might be a hard road to get there.
So just to be ready to be stubborn, to have that energy, and to trust. That’s where you have to find somebody you trust. If you don’t trust them, move on. Find somebody you trust that you can walk that road. So absolutely tons of hope. There really is. We could talk after. I believe there’s hope, and others have walked that, but it will be hard. It will be a hard road to get there.
Yes. Very well said. This next question asked, “Can you share how to help men talk about painful situations?” So we’re shifting gears on looking at a gender based issue here that suggested since most time seems they don’t want to go there. Can you share how to help men talk about painful situations?
I’ve had a lot of men share, but it’s so hard for them, and you would have to be quiet. One thing is to give them space and say, “I would want to hear what you have to share. I will want to know what you’re experiencing, and I will not judge you.” When that person opens up, do not judge them, and maybe it’ll happen again. The thing I’ve seen is judgment or how come this? I didn’t really and defensive, or any other comment that would be against them, and they might not share again. To have that space to say, “I will want to know about what’s going on. I would like to hear about that.”
Even though you say that, just know they may not trust you, because I’ve seen that where they’re so afraid of how that person’s going to react. They just never open up. At the same time, sometimes they do. So give them that ability and otherwise, maybe you can have other people involved, other guys that they connect with that will see if they’ll open up. Definitely be very careful how you respond. Maybe say nothing at all. That could be the best way to respond, but definitely being careful not to have any judgment on whatever is shared.
That could hopefully create opportunity for them to have that one good experience and feel comfortable talking later.
So that nonjudgmental experience open-ended questions can be helpful. Would you care to tell me a little more about what you just said? That would be open-ended. Nonjudgmental would be, “So I hear you saying this.” You might have to preface it with this sounds like a therapist, but then you could say it. Sounds like a therapist about what I’m going to say, but just say that to them. Really have a nonjudgmental spirit about you. It’s quite amazing, there’s some research that reveals that what we’re feeling inside, other people, even if it’s subconscious are intuiting it.
Think about it this way, if you ever had a dog that, we have a dog at home, but a dog that just loves one person that comes in and just growls another person that comes in, and they have this intuition about them that they can sense something about that person. It could be that they’re smelling another dog on the person’s clothing or whatever, but we don’t know exactly. Of course, that minimizes us as humans because we have much more of that frontal lobe. Actually, they don’t have, but the ability to sense things, intuit things.
So that subconsciously can happen in relationships. You almost have to say, “I am not going to judge this person. I’m just going to try to listen,” and maybe even smile, or ask them, “What would be a question that you would like for me to ask?” We are one minute from closing this evening, and I wish we could continue on. I really appreciate every time that Dr. Hayden has joined us here, Dr. Julie Hayden. Would you join me in thanking Dr. Julie Hayden for her leadership this evening?
We really appreciate you coming out this evening. Dr. Hayden will be available just following this. I just want to mention that our next My Therapist Sez is Dr. David Levy, nationally known neurosurgeon, actually a very good friend of mine. I’m so thankful he is, and I appreciate him, and he’s been really wonderful to my family and me over the years. Here is the title of it, “What do you do for comfort?” Then, “Looking at our God-given need for comfort and where it goes wrong.”
So this is going to be a tremendous My Therapist Sez, so I hope you’ll be back for that at our next My Therapist Sez. If you don’t mind, we’ll have a word of prayer as we close out the evening. Thank you again for coming to My Therapist Sez.
Heavenly Father, we thank You for these wonderful people who are here in the auditorium here in San Diego, California and also listening in live streaming, or listening from a later time of just listening into this production. We thank You for these insights that had been shared. Most importantly, we thank You for the insights that you share with us through the gift and power of the Holy Spirit. Thanks be to God. You created us to have that need, because we’re never alone without You present.
You care that deeply for us. So we’re never really lonely, because we know we can call upon Your name and You’re already present. So thank you for that. So bless each person and guide in all of these areas. This is a very complicated topic, but yet one that we can combine biblical truths with scientific studies and truth from Your word. So we thank You. We bless you this evening, in Jesus name. Amen. Thank you again for coming to My Therapist Sez.
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