(Photo compliments of Sue Schwabauer Hoeksema)
With the fall time change, the days are shorter and darkness looms longer, ready to invade our very being. If you or a loved one struggles with depression, this time of year can make that worse. The cold and the darkness can promote staying inside and isolating, and the darkness weighs us down like an anchor on the bottom of the ocean floor.
While many suffer from the cloak of depression throughout the year, others suffer only during the winter months with what was called Seasonal Affective Disorder in reaction to the decreased sunlight to our nervous system.
The colder, darker months make for a ready excuse for decreased exercise. With that comes a decrease in the neurotransmitters produced and used by our brain to help us feel good. Decreased exercise also contributes to weight gain and a resulting decrease in our self-esteem.
Another contributor to the despair of winter depression is the pre- and post-holiday let-down. Our anticipation of what’s to come, then the let-down when our expectations go unmet, deflate our peace and joy. All our family dysfunction peaks during the big holiday family gatherings when our expectations don’t match those of our family members, whether spoken or not.
One of the hardest parts of depression is the feeling that nothing will ever get better, things will always be the same, and depression will never go away. But Friend, take heart, God gives us hope that this is not true. Popularized by the song “Turn, Turn, Turn” sung by The Birds, Ecclesiastes 3 gives us hope that the depression you may be feeling now is just for this season:
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
So while today may be a time of weeping or mourning, hang on because the time for laughing and dancing is coming.
Join me tomorrow for practical tips on how to ward off the winter time blues.