According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), roughly 18% of Americans suffer from anxiety disorders. The contributing factors that may promote depression are many. They include abuse, certain medications, conflict, death or loss, genetics, substance abuse, major events, and other personal problems. Additionally, factors such as our upbringing, our coping strategies, and our general view and outlook on life impact the possibility of us developing anxiety disorders.
Being a proponent of the “Prevention is Better than Cure” principle, I wonder how many cases of depression can be prevented if we learn the right copying strategies, have the right perspective on life, and perhaps avoid the character pitfalls that have the ability to drag is unto the dark pit of depression.
Just as an unhealthy lifestyle promotes many cases of obesity and cancer, there are some things that we should avoid if we want to reduce the likelihood of falling into depression. Here are 5 of 10 things we should avoid that promote D.E.P.R.E.S.S.I.O.N.
(1) DISGUISE: In masquerade parties, we wear masks and pretend to be people we are not. In real life, we tend to wear masks to hide who we truly are. Many times, it is because we are afraid of being a disappointment or are afraid of being rejected by people. Hence, fear is the main reason people where masks. For most of us, mask wearing is only meant for a particular audience – perhaps in our workplace or when around certain caliber of people. The problem comes when we are so deeply fearful that we no longer take off our mask – regardless of company, situation, or circumstance. We are in dangerous territory when no one around us really knows who we are. When this happens, we do not have real relationships but have developed illusions of relationships. We feel deep loneliness because no one know who we truly are though we may be surrounded by people. Many comedians wear masks and so suffer from depression.
A key to stop our mask wearing is to know that we have been accepted. Our acceptance does not come from who we are or what we do but from who God is and what He has done! So let us take off our mask and allow people to see the real us. We must leave the place that tells us we have to behave before we belong; we must go to the place where we first belong well before we behave. That place is at the feet of Jesus!
(2) ENTITLEMENT: When we feel entitled to something, we not only feel disappointed when we do not get it, we feel robbed and angered. We feel as if some grave injustice has been done against us. We feel the world is unfair and against us when we can do nothing about our perceived injustice. So we go around gloomy and sad with the weight of the world on our shoulders. A weight that we have placed there ourselves.
Perspective is what breaks the yoke of entitlement. From a biblical perspective, the only thing we are entitled to or deserve in this life is death! We know this because the bible says all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God; it says that the wages of sin is death! We must let go of whatever we feel entitled. We must learn to be glad for those things that we do have and are in the process of attaining. Only by living with a heart of gratitude will we see the little miracles that God places in our lives on a daily basis.
(3) PRIDE: I feel like cringing everything I hear someone say “My pride is all I have left“. I want to reply, “You pride is likely the reason you have nothing but pride left“. See, the bible says that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Why is pride so bad? It is because pride does not seek help from others. Pride says we can go it alone and ostracize people. Pride never admits any wrong-doing. Pride refuses to pardon but drinks the poison of unforgiveness. Pride convinces us we are the stud-muffin but then fails to pick us up when we fall. Pride cannot stand failure and is hard on us. Pride never wants to change course even if the course is leading us straight to the pit. Pride is the friend the betrays us in the end. Pride causes conflicts in our world and leads us to live the stressed life instead of the blessed life.
When we make it about pride, we make it about is. When we make it about humility, we make it about the greater good.
(4) REBELLION: We will never find the tree rebelling against the sun. No tree has ever decided not to bends itself towards the sun. Similarly, you will never find the fish rebelling against the water. Likewise, we should not rebel against the truth. A truth is something that remains unchanged regardless of time and circumstance. A truth about human beings is that we are relational beings – we were made to be in relationship with one another in love. The moment we lock ourselves away from all people in our hearts is the moment we begin to rebel against our need for companionship.
Just as it is hazardous for us to rebel against the law of gravity, we must not rebel against the spiritual laws governing faith, hope, and love. Rebelling against these spiritual law’s will lead to spiritual starvation and depravity and deep state of anxiety.
(5) ENVY: Nothing saps satisfaction faster than envy. We not only become dissatisfied with what we have, we become dissatisfied with God. Envy causes us to question how much God loves us. This is turn causes us to cheapen every blessing God has bestowed on us. Envy causes us to take our eyes off God and place is on other people; it is what causes us to keep up with the “Jones”. It leads to unhealthy competition with people who are not competing against us. In other words, it causes us to put undue pressure on ourselves to perform.
Instead of being envious, we must make a conscious decision to be happy with where we are and what we have. Even if our current situation is not the best, it does not have to stay that way. Remember that Joseph was not always in the pit but made it to the palace. Remember that David was not always running away from Saul but became a king. Instead of being envious, we must embrace our season of character development while awaiting our promotion in life. Moreover, we must make it a point to be happy for others. We must remember that God is no respecter of person’s. If he has done it for our neighbor, He can do it for us as well as we trust and follow Him.