Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Depressed? You Might Be Angry, Too

Hmm...  Been seeing lots of anger lately online so I thought I'd run this post again from years ago.  

"... for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God."   ... James 1:20

I've told you before how, when we lived in Nevada, I was one depressed puppy. Brrrrr. I hate even to think of those months of downright scary, black-like afternoons in the desert.

Well, I may finally, 19 years later, have discovered the main reason for all that depression which just seemed to disappear with no medication or counseling.
Last week on tv I heard a doctor say that the one thing which all his hundreds (thousands?) of depressed patients had in common was--anger. Repressed, held-onto-over-the-months good (bad) old-fashioned anger.

And the amazing thing? He said anger stops serotonin from being formed/released in the brain and it's serotonin which we need to feel happy and content.

Good grief.

All sorts of bells, whistles and light bulbs went off in my head. What great sense that makes to me now! I mean, when we moved to Nevada I was angry that Tom had moved us out into the middle of the desert (literally) in a trailer park which was just one big sand box (sand which pelted you on windy days and coated your scalp). And Tom's job was 100 miles away in the desert, he'd stay out there four days at a time each week, so I was left alone with 8-year-old Naomi in this Godforsaken town where I knew no one.

I was mad at the people of our new church who didn't seem all that friendly and Tom and I couldn't even understand the church bulletin because it was practically in code (didn't they realize new people wouldn't know what all those abbreviations meant?). And --

I'll spare you the other (whiny, pathetic) details, but the anger built up on the inside, yet on the outside I just appeared sad. You would never have considered me a screamer or yeller, but rather, I cried a lot. Attended a ton of pity parties in our mobile home before Naomi would arrive home from school, after which I'd pull myself together and pretend to her that everything was just spiffy.

I wish I'd known about the serotonin bit way back then! I kept trying to look on the bright side (as 'They' urge) and count all my blessings and hold onto hope--all that good stuff. But what confused me was my inability to be cheered by any of that. Those sorts of thoughts used to help snap me out of sad, bleak times, but they were useless at age 30.

Small wonder why now.... it was all that 'hidden' anger sucking the serotonin right outta my head. 

It was all that refusal to accept that my new life 'was what it was.' And it was my refusal to just let go of my need to control all my situations, including where I lived... and well, to just let go, period. To let go of the Past. To let go of unforgiveness. To let go of expectations that things must be a certain way.

Yes, the repressed anger and serotonin thing makes perfect sense now. Finally I understand why, without medications or counseling I 'suddenly' got better (I've always been a little confused by that). 

Because actually, over time, I did accept my current situation, that the desert was what it was... and I spent time around real-live new friends from church, instead of attending those solitary pity parties. I gave-up having to control everything and instead, awoke in the mornings wondering--but excited about--where the day, and God, would take me....

... and ok, we moved out of the desert to this old-fashioned Buffalo which helped a whole bunch, too...heh. I arrived here ready to be happy in this new adventure.

Then eventually God really got a hold of me, shook some sense (and delicious freedom) into me--and changed everything. Absolutely everything. 

Yet the changes came only after I released the anger and the serotonin stopped drying-up.  And when I chose acceptance and to be moldable in God's hands. 

And oh, what changes I have seen ever since.


"Let not the sun go down on your anger..."


Here are further explanations about the importance of serotonin. Check out #14:

Even negative emotions and so-called sour moods can stimulate the secretion of cortisol and adrenaline and reduce the production of serotonin. Brooding about bad things that have happened to you in life, being irritable, or harboring resentment and anger all help sustain a stress-hormone response. In the long term, such bad moods can suppress normal DNA synthesis, reduce production of new brain cells, and reshape brain-cell connections in undesirable ways, helping set the stage for chronic depression or anxiety. 

- Jack Challem, Feed Your Genes Right: Eat to Turn Off Disease-Causing Genes and Slow Down Aging

Oh wow. Scary stuff and many, many people could be helped by knowing this!


A passionate love for Jesus changes everything.


Robin in New Jersey said...

I have always said, "Bloom where you are planted!"

This post makes so much sense, Debra.

We moved so many times when my older kids were little. I would be sad that we didn't have any friends. I realized that I needed to reach out to people and not just sit and wait for them to reach out to me. We had some very good friends in all the towns we lived in and I still keep in touch with some of them.

So today I will ask myself, how can I be a blessing to someone today? How can I encourage someone else? In doing things for others, we often boost our own spirits. :)

Have a great day, Debra!

Elizabeth said...

I never made the connection between anger and depression, but it does make a lot of sense. Looking back at my depression I can see that anger and hurt had a lot to do with it!

Terra said...

Seratonin, and the link between depression and anger make sense.

Pat said...

I'm too familiar with the Seratonin/depression link. I've gone through many times of repressed anger, what a waste. Though it wasn't a total waste, because many lessons were learned, I do wish I could have a do-over during some of those times. Live and learn!