Depression is easily recognized as one of the most prevalent forms of mental dis-ease in America. It is thought that its sources lie in genetic, biological, environmental and psychological factors (https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml). The World Health Organization (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs369/en/) asserts that depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. We all have a stake in understanding not only the prevalence of depression, but just as importantly, forms of effective treatment for it.
I can speak to the treatment of depression as both a clinician and a patient, though in this post I am coming from personal experience. When people ask me how I deal with my own depression, what I emphasize most is not the medication: the results on that are mixed, although the research seems to indicate that depression medication works best in tandem with therapy. I turn to a resource that is abundant and costs nothing – nature.
Life here in and around Belmont, Cramerton, Mt. Holly and McAdenville, North Carolina, affords us plenty of beautiful landscapes, nature trails and pastoral scenes to lift one’s spirits. One such place is the Seven Oaks Preserve Trail, located at 6900 South New Hope Road in Belmont. I took the picture above while on the trail this week lifting my own spirits.
And this points to a dimension of depressive experience that good therapy does address – that for many, their experience of depression can lead to profound spiritual awakening. In fact, Parker Palmer, of The Center for Courage and Renewal (http://www.couragerenewal.org/parker/), says that he was able to befriend his own depression by seeing it as a grounding element amidst turbulent times in his life.
Should that sound strange or impossible to you, perhaps seeking out your own sacred space that brings about a sense of awe and wonder, may result in unexpected moments of serenity and peace.