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Depression: A Loss of Soul, a Rebirth of Self




Excerpted from
The Energy Prescription : Give Yourself Abundant Vitality with the Wisdom of America's Leading Natural Pharmacist
By Constance Grauds, R.Ph., Doug Childers

What Causes Depression?

Science links depression to an imbalance in our brain's biochemistry, with a reduction in neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine, and with a malfunctioning of the neural circuits that regulate our moods, sleep, appetite, sex drive, willpower, and cognitive functions. It also tells us that depression can be passed on genetically as an inherited biological disposition, meaning that we may carry a probability for depression in our genes.

But biochemical imbalances in the brain and genetic predisposition are not the only causes of depression. If they were, mere pharmaceutical readjustment of our brain chemistry would cure depression. But it doesn't. At best, antidepressants suppress or diminish overwhelming feelings of despair and "clear the fog," allowing the severely depressed person to function again.

Psychology tells us the following about depression: A depressed parent may predispose a child, emotionally and psychologically, to depression later in life. Depression in adults may be triggered by any one event or a combination of painful events or prolonged stressful situations such as job loss, divorce, a death of a loved one, a major illness or injury, emotional abuse, joblessness, poverty, loneliness, and more. Poor social and relationship skills and an inability to relax and manage or release stress may also contribute to depression. Everyone has a tipping point where the stresses and shocks of life exceed the capacity to endure them. Given sufficient or prolonged pressure, or the wrong combination of stressful circumstances, anyone may fall into depression.

Modern existential psychologists tell us the depressed person's crippling sense of hopelessness, futility, or despair reflects a loss of meaning in life, which reflects a corresponding loss of meaning in modem secular culture and society. Most of us live by meanings inherited from our culture and family-ideas, roles, and purposes like being a good citizen, a good parent, a good spouse, a good provider, a good soldier, a good teacher, a successful businessman, and the like. In depression, these conventional roles and meanings become empty. They no longer provide the motivation or the energy to go on as before. The depressed person is unable to live with conviction, to participate energetically in life. The severely depressed person may be unable to get out of bed. Energetically depleted and spiritually broken, life is no longer a sustainable proposition for the depressed person.

It is ultimately mysterious why one person falls into depression while another in similar circumstances does not. We all inherit a variety of genetic traits and tendencies from our parents. We are all significantly shaped or "predispositioned" by their behavior and emotional patterns, and by our childhood trials and traumas. We are all impacted by present life stresses. All of these and more continually affect our brain's biochemistry. But not all of us are tipped into crippling depression, robbed of a sense of life's meaning and our own value as human beings.

What is important is to know that it is possible for a depressed person to tap the inner wellsprings of spirit, access the spirit energy that is the source of true healing, and be restored to new life.

Why Antidepressants May Not Work

The cutting edge of antidepressant prescription therapy is in the category of drugs termed the SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) like the top sellers Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft. The theory behind their invention was called "the amine hypothesis." This hypothesis states that depression may be caused by low levels of certain brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) called amines (serotonin, as an example). The proposed mechanism of action of the SSRIs is to raise the level of serotonin, thereby relieving depression. In fact, it's only hypothetical that serotonin levels are low in the brains of depressed people. SSRIs don't always work, and they can have serious side effects for some. Overall, they represent a "false energy" in that for most patients, the depression returns when medication is stopped.

Depression and Spiritual Healing

Ellen, a thirty-seven-year-old corporate manager, had been struggling with cycles of depression since her mid-teens. She had done much inner work over the years, reading numerous self-help books, exhaustively "analyzing and processing" her difficult childhood, doing journal work, seeing a therapist, attending motivational and transformational seminars. She maintained healthy disciplines in key gateways, eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, drinking eight to twelve glasses of water daily. All these things helped her to stay motivated and generally upbeat-except when her depressions came, which they did periodically. She even got a prescription for Prozac, which she took on occasions when her depression seemed overwhelming.

Then a good friend recommended that she see a visiting shaman who had a gift for connecting people to Spirit. Ellen went to see the shaman about her depression. In their meeting, which took less than an hour, he explained to her that Spirit had power to heal her, literally to lift her out of her depression into a new place in her life. But to be fully healed, he said, she must begin living her life on a new basis, in relationship with Spirit, by whatever name she called it. He said she must trust Spirit with her life, and draw on its power daily through inner disciplines of prayer and meditation. He asked her if she wanted this healing and this new relationship with Spirit. She said yes. And she meant it.

He then performed a brief ritual in which he prayed over her and called on Spirit to come into her and heal her depression. Ellen silently prayed this for herself and opened to receive Spirit, which she called God. Ellen felt something shift in her. She sensed a spiritual presence and felt hopeful for her healing.

After the session she went home. Her depression lifted over the course of the afternoon. In the coming days it didn't return. She began doing daily prayer and meditation, inviting Spirit/God to keep coming in. Her sense of a spiritual presence in her life deepened. She knew something remarkable was happening. Weeks passed and her depression didn't return. Then one afternoon she felt the familiar gloomy feeling that always preceded her depression.

"I became aware that I could slip back into my depression if I let myself" she says. "But knew I didn't have to. I didn't want to. I saw that I had a choice. I said no to the depression. Then I did a prayer and asked Spirit to come in. And it did."

Ellen calls this her moment of choice. That was several years ago. She's had many moments of choice since then. But she chooses Spirit now. She now lives on the basis of this relationship. And her depression hasn't returned.

"I look the same," she says. "But I'm a different person in many ways. I live on the basis of very different principles. I have no interest in going back to my old life."

Ellen continues to access spirit energy through healthy disciplines in the gateways. But her main discipline is choosing and relying on Spirit as the foundation of her life. And she increasingly conducts its power through prayer, meditation, and service to others. She says these disciplines are more beneficial, healing, and energizing than any antidepressant. And she's happier, and healthier, than she's ever been.

If you suffer from depression, you can begin taking simple actions in the gateways that will shift your consciousness and infuse your body and mind with spirit energy.



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