I haven’t posted in a while and the reason is depression. It’s not really about me even though I haven’t been feeling as mentally well myself because of this. Our teenage daughter has been diagnosed with clinical depression. You may think of depression as just a feeling but it’s an actual medical condition where your own body and mind is working against you. “True clinical depression is a mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration interfere with everyday life for a long period of time. The exact cause of depression is not known. Many researchers believe it is caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, which may be hereditary or caused by events in a person’s life. “ Major Depression from NIH

The situation has been getting worse and worse with raging hormones and the move to high school as some personal life events that could be impacting her. However, she’s described it as a feeling of deep sadness that can’t be shaken no matter how good or bad life is going. It’s such a sadness that caused her to think terrible thoughts and engage in self harm which could have had a disastrous ending. She’s also been hospitalized and is working with various medications to help her with this disorder. This is an ongoing issue but we’re hopefully done with the self harm and risk of suicide. I know it has only been the fact that her mother and I have been watching over her and intervening in her activities is the reason why she is still with us today. I implore any of you parents that are dealing with similar situations to read up on depression and get your loved ones actual help from medical professionals if it’s so serious that they need that.

Since this is an agnostic blog I will get to that tie-in now. Earlier in the dealings with this problem our daughter started to try all sorts of things to feel better. One of her best friends is very active in her Methodist church and invited our daughter along so they could spend more time together. Our daughter ended up joining the church and now considers herself a Christian with a healthy amount of skepticism as she tries out belief. She enjoyed the youth activities at the church even if many things were confusing to her as a former nonbeliever. We didn’t agree with religion as an answer but we didn’t criticize or talk negative in any way about it since it was a choice she was making to use it as another tool to help herself. I do believe the social aspects of church are healthy and useful to many people regardless of the truth of religion itself, but like everything else she was trying it didn’t help her depression and she continued suffering until it turned into self harm and other issues that forced us to seek medical help.

4 thoughts on “Depression

  1. reminds me of a situation my brother went through in his junior year of high school. He ended up in the hospital after a suicide and was diagnosed depressed we went through multiple therapy sessions. At first he refused any outside help screaming get away. Yet he was still able to have the deepest conversations and fully understand complex sciences he was sane. He did at on point turned towards a religon but in the end it only supported him till a certain point. He’s now in college recovered but not the same. He take philosophy psychology and other subjects. In the end he had to find the root of the depression using any other means to avoid it only made it worse.

  2. I am not a psychologist, but I was going to be and I arrogantly believe that I should have been. I do not believe in the Christian God, or in any God, but I do know that religion has value. It can mislead and cause one to become narrow-minded, sanctimonious and arrogant. It also provides community, in some cases love, and a true sense of belonging and purpose: the exact things humans psychologically need.

    Ironically, I just read / heard two things about this topic, one from a new collection of short stories reviewed on NPR and another from a philosophical blogger who does not believe in God, but routinely defends the faith. I am going to point you to his article, because it is truly outstanding, as are several other articles he has posted on the topic of religion.

    The Keeper of Souls

    Humans have many needs, but a few are primary among them:

    1. The need to love and to be loved
    2. The need to respect and to be respected.
    3. The need to belong
    4. The need to have purpose
    5. The need to grow

    Religion provides all of these, except for the last one. It is unfortunate that the basis of religion is usually falsehood. However, it does not have to be. I know some people, such as Burr Deming, a Methodist blogs at Fair and Unbalanced, who summarily reject a literal interpretation of the Bible, and embraces only the good in religion. As he practices it, Methodism is purely good. I still cannot join the club, as I do not believe the premise on which it is based, but I respect his membership immensely.

    My wife wants our child to be, to go to church. I will not lie to him/her, but I also will not deny him/her that experience. As your daughter tries to work through her problems keep these factors, a lack of which all contribute to depression and a sense of hopelessness in mind:

    When people are in a state of crisis in their lives, the following are very good:

    1. A change of scenery and a change or routine.
    2. Something new that brings hope with it.
    3. Random Randomness. They do not need the status quo, as that is clearly not working.

    Even if her problem is a chemical imbalance, and it may well be, as we are chemical beings, the mind controls our chemical composition, just as our chemical composition then controls the mind. Neither is subordinate to the other. If I am afraid, adrenalin is released. If I am blissful, endorphins are released. I sweat if I am fearful or if I am in dread. I feel light headed if I am suddenly hear unthinkably bad news, maybe even nauseated. The mind, when failing us, cripples the body and treating it with chemicals only compensates for the chemical imbalance, but does nothing to solve the mental state that allowed it to emerge. Of course, there could be purely medical reasons for a chemical imbalance also, but I would assume that there are psychological reasons as well until I know better.

    In short, I am an atheist, but in this case, I would not only allow her to seek faith and to seek the virtues a relationship with the concept of God brings, but I would encourage it.

    I highly recommend you read the The Keeper of Souls. I may have been a little hard on the fellow who wrote it because everything he said was ironically redundant. However, he expressed a set of ideas that are germane to this exact discussion, and did so more convincingly and with greater eloquence than I have heard before.

  3. Tk and John, thank you for the replies. With our daughter we are trying to find the roots of depression but it appears some of it is just her inability to properly deal with any problems in life and the feelings that come with those problems. The medications she’s on are starting to make an impact on her mental state and appear to be helping to a point. The rest of the solution appears to be therapy and coping skills.

    She has no real deep connection to religion as a solution and it’s just another thing she has for hanging out with and interacting with one of her best friends. Since she’s been in full-time hospital programs for depression she hasn’t been doing anything with religion even during the short times she’s been out. I’m proud of her ability to acknowledge that there’s a problem and to want to work on it and at this point if she did lean on religion heavily I wouldn’t care as long as it helped. However, she hasn’t been using it as a tool.

  4. I was depressed and medicated as a teenager. The first breakthrough I had was when I quit searching for the meaning of life. When I admitted that there were some things that will not be understood in my lifetime. My psychologist didn’t lead me to that conclusion, it was an epiphany. My fundamentalist christian parents had no answers for my sadness except their prayers. The bad news is that my fundamentalist parents disowned me when I really discovered my road to freethought. The bad news, as well is when you’re young, the road begins with rebellion, and a lot of bad decisions. I’m fortunate to be alive. Funny how that works, isn’t it?

    But, basically, I’m still a functioning individual despite efforts to brainwash me and become religious property. But, to survive, I had to turn off the pain valve. Particularly sad, because I am an artist, and have painted my pain, some good stuff. I haven’t painted in years.

    Boo, hoo, poor me. Imagine the crusades and the witch trials. We dont even understand how good we have it, yet we get depressed anyway. My only advise would be to stop searching for meaning where there is none. Just exploit the joys that nature awards you. New love, (which turns into regret), adorable babies who turn into wiseass teenagers, and inevitable death. Who could get depressed about that? Those with their eyes open?

    Sounds to me like she’s a freethinker coming to grips with reality. And it’s not pretty. Stop worrying and just talk to her like an equal. A friend.


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