Overcoming New Year’s Depression

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Both the holidays and change of the calendar year often bring depression for many people, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Here is a formula for finding faith and hope over pessimism, dread, and despair.

An epidemic of depression and mental illness in America

Four years before the pandemic, a major study published by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association showed that diagnoses of depression in America had climbed 33 percent from 2013 to 2016, primarily occurring among adolescents and millennials, US News reported.

The study found that depression had increased 63 percent in adolescence (ages 12-17) and 47 percent in millennials (ages 18-34 at the time).

A total of 4.4 percent of the overall population in the US was diagnosed with mental illness. Women were also diagnosed with major depression at 6% of the population, compared to 3% of men.

Data released by the CDC in June 2020 suggested one in four adults aged 18-24 have considered suicide.

CNBC reported a May 2021 Harvard Youth poll of young Americans 18-29 reported a range of serious mental health symptoms, with 51 percent saying they feel down, depressed or hopeless. One of the lead researchers on the survey said the results showed it wasn’t just the pandemic driving severe depression.

Why are so many people depressed?

Experts blame a variety of causes, the Guardian reports.

Triggers include:

  • Past trauma or abuse.
  • A genetic predisposition to depression, not necessarily family history but can be.
  • Life stresses including financial problems or bereavement.
  • Chronic pain or illness.
  • Alcohol and taking drugs, including cannabis, opioids, and others.

One expert theorizes that when under stress, weaker or lazy people surrender quickly, as compared to stronger people who redouble their efforts and fight any pressure to give up.

One expert theorizes that, under stress, weaker or lazy people surrender quickly, compared to stronger people who redouble their efforts and fight any pressure to give up.

Self-inflicted wounds

But another common factor for depression is unrealistic expectations. Many people expect more from life or themselves than is realistically possible. In this manner, they position themselves up for disappointment by setting unachievable goals.

A typical example of this is how people burden themselves with New Year’s resolutions as a way of making an effort to overcome what they perceive as their shortcomings and/or failings.

Overcoming depression: What the Bible says

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

–Jeremiah 29:11

Hope is the number one antidote to depression. Hope comes through faith. The muscles of your body cannot be strengthened without physical exercise. Likewise, you strengthen your faith by reading the Bible.

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

–Romans 10:17

The apostle Paul wrote that the three gifts or virtues from God that are eternal are:

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

– 1 Corinthians 13:1

By faith, we know that the truth of all things comes from God, who delivers the hope of eternal life, and by love God accepts us and forgives us for all our shortcomings, failings, and sins as long as we return our love to HIM in kind.

Words of comfort

God understands that life on earth for human beings is one filled with challenges. No one goes through life without experiencing discomfort and various forms of suffering.

The Bible offers comfort, such as reflected in the following verses:

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

–Isaiah 41:10

“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”

–Psalm 34:17-18

“Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”

–1 Peter 5:7

One treatment for battling depression is to read the Bible daily.

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

–Psalm 37:4