Saturday, July 1, 2017

Breaking Depression's Fear Cycle

In the previous article, (Learning to face distressing symptoms instead of dreading them) I discussed the importance of facing depression’s distressing symptoms rather than fearfully shrinking from them, as explained by Dr Weekes, 'I have no doubt that you are tensely shrinking from the feelings within you and yet, are ready to “listen in” in apprehension?...Now examine and do not shrink from the sensations that have been upsetting you. I want you to examine each carefully, to analyse and describe it to yourself...Do not tensely flinch from it. Go with it. Relax and analyse it…Now that you have faced and examined it, is it so terrible?' (1) That is, although we are initially convinced that we cannot possibly live or function while these symptoms rage within us, the fact is that after we have faced them, we realise that we can still live and function with them.

Once we have faced those symptoms and robbed them of their power, the next step is to put into practise a technique that will break depression’s ‘fear-adrenalin-fear cycle,’ as Doctor Weekes calls it.


The Fear-Adrenalin-Fear Cycle

The cycle works like this: we react to depression by fearing, fleeing or fighting it. These reactions cause too much adrenalin to flow, and it is this adrenalin that causes depression’s symptoms. We are so desperate to get away from these symptoms that we fear, flee and fight even more, which in turn produces even more adrenalin, which prolongs symptoms and produces new, even more alarming ones, which we fear, flee, and fight, and the cycle continues.

It is crucial that we recognize that it is this cycle that causes depression’s disturbing physical, mental, emotional and spiritual sensations/symptoms, and that by breaking that cycle, we can eventually be free of them.

Below I outline a system that can slow and eventually stop that excessive flow of adrenalin. The system is simple and presented quite clearly in God’s word, yet it is so ‘unnatural’ that it does not occur to us when lost in a state of anxiety. (The natural reaction to depression is to fear, flee or fight the symptoms.)


How to Break the Fear, Flight, and Fight Cycle:
1. Accept each of depression’s symptoms as being part of our life, instead of fearing, fighting or fleeing them
2. Learn to live with the symptoms as part of our life as if they were background music
3. Let time pass while trusting that God is in control (2) and keep ourselves constructively busy.

Our first reaction to these steps could be, “But I don’t WANT to learn to live with these disturbing sensations - I want them to go away!”

And there lies the irony of it all. It is only when we accept those sensations, learn to live with them, and let time pass, that the flow of adrenalin begins to diminish, as it the very reaction of desperately wanting them to go away that makes them worse. And as the flow of adrenalin diminishes, the symptoms lose their intensity, shorten in duration, and slowly begin to disappear. Accepting them instead of fearing or fighting them is the way to make them go away.

The Bible teaches us time and again that we should not be anxious, and it is not just because anxiety is the opposite of peace and trusting in God, but because God knows just how much fear and anxiety harms us. Here are scriptures that illustrate this technique of breaking the fear cycle by accepting, being content, and letting time pass.

Here are some reflections in my diary about putting this technique into practice:


Verses for Acceptance:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. James 1:2-3

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6


Verse for Learning to Live with the Symptoms:
‘I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.’ Philippians 4:12-13


Verses for Letting Time Pass while Trusting that God is in Control:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” John 14:1

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear…Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Matthew 6:25,27

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5.

While I was depressed, although I knew the Bible said I should not fear, should be content, and should rejoice in the midst of my sufferings, trying to put this into practice through sheer will power alone did not work. However, once I understood that putting those Bible verses into practice would break the fear-adrenalin-fear cycle, those verses suddenly came alive to me, causing hope to spring forth like spring rains after a drought.


It Takes Time for a Nervous System to Heal

Note that breaking the flow of adrenalin does not happen overnight, it is a gradual process that occurs over time. However, my life is a testimony to the fact that it does happen. Dr Claire Weekes says, “Accept it [the symptom] as something that will be with you for some time yet – in fact while you recover – but something that will eventually leave you if you are prepared to let time pass and not anxiously watch the churning during its passing. But do not make the mistake of thinking that it will go as soon as you cease to fear it. Your nervous system is still tired and will take time to heal, just as a broken leg takes time.” (3)

It is important that we keep ourselves busy as we let time pass while our nervous system slowly starts to heal. We need to go out of our way to find engaging, constructive activities and hobbies that interest us. Physical exercise, such as swimming, aerobics, circuit, walking or jogging, can also be of great help.

Within two months of reading “Self Help for Your Nerves,” a significant number of my symptoms, especially the physical ones, had greatly reduced in severity or ceased altogether. Over the next six months, I joined a new church, became a musician in a home group, started teaching Sunday School, and engaged in normal social activities again. Some symptoms took longer to fade away than others, but by reacting to them in the correct way, they no longer had the same power or intensity as I no longer feared them. Some symptoms, especially the mental ones such as panic attacks, lasted longer, but in time, they too faded away. Counselling was a crucial step in helping to deal with these, by helping me to retain my thought processes and gain new Biblical perspectives on the things I feared.

While stuck in depression, we think we have no future and no hope, but that is a lie from the kingdom of Satan, for in Christ we always have hope and a future. "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him." 1 Corinthians 2:9.

Hope enters our lives again when we know it is only a matter of time, whether weeks or months, or in the case of some symptoms, years, for our nervous system to recover from this cycle. After reading “Self Help for your Nerves,” my diary entries went from being bleak and full of despair, to containing hope, like this entry:

28th July 1990 -
This book has taught me how to react so that the merry go round will be stopped. And it’s teaching me how to react whenever it strikes again in the future.


The Importance of Surrender

To recover from depression we need to surrender every aspect of our life, including our desires and will, to Jesus. Romans 8:28 assures us that God is trustworthy and can bring good out of any situation. ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.’

We sing, “All to Jesus, I surrender,” but do we really surrender everything? (I am pointing a finger at myself here too!) For when a storm of life comes along, instead of surrendering every aspect of the situation, including our desires, to Him, we typically react by fearing, fleeing or fighting - because we do not want to be where we are. Yet, by reacting like this, we make the suffering worse as this causes more adrenalin to flow.

Even in the midst of the storm called depression, when we accept what we are going through instead of fearing, fleeing or fighting it, when we learn to live with it, and let time pass, we can find rest and experience inner peace again. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28.

(1) ‘Self Help for Your Nerves,’ Doctor Claire Weekes, Angus & Robertston Publishers, 1989, p21.
(2) ‘Self Help for Your Nerves,’ Doctor Claire Weekes, Angus & Robertston Publishers, 1989, p19. Note, Dr Weekes includes 'floating' as a step in the treatment technique, whereas I wrote 'learn to live with it.' In my case I found the 'floating' concept hard to grasp, but easily related to that step (or my interpretation of it) when I thought of it as 'learning to live with it.'
(3) ‘Self Help for Your Nerves,’ Doctor Claire Weekes, Angus & Robertston Publishers, 1989, p22.

All verses from NIV.

46 comments:

  1. Excellent, well-written post, Peter. I've known this cycle. And boy, do I relate to this:
    We sing, “All to Jesus, I surrender,” but do we really surrender everything? (I am pointing a finger at myself here too!) For when suffering comes along, instead of surrendering all of our will to Him, we typically react by fearing, fleeing or fighting - because we do not want to be where we are.

    I like to be comfortable, so this really struck me. Thank you for the encouragement and challenge today.

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  2. Peter, another great article on depression. The idea of 'learning to live with it' is so simple, that you tend to dismiss it.

    The fact is, however, that it does work; much the same as when you are first diagnosed with depression. You may have gone for years, wondering what was wrong with you, then you receive the diagnosis that you are suffering from depression. You suddenly have a name to hang on the feelings of dread and sadness that have been your companions for months, if not years.

    You can use the same response for the insomnia that can accompany depression. For years I suffered from insomnia. Going to bed feeling as though I could not keep my eyes open another second, only to find the moment my head touched the pillow I was wide awake, or get to sleep for maybe an hour before waking again to toss and turn, becoming more frustrated and angry as the hours passed.

    Then it hit me like a bolt out of the blue... relax, go with the flow, and instead of getting angry, I'd just breathe deeply with my eyes closed. The very act of consciously relaxing did wonders and the number of nights where I would only get 3-4 hours sleep diminished, and now most nights I get six. Still not enough, but now that I'm retired I can take a Nana Nap in the afternoon if I want to.

    Keep writing, Peter, the Lord always uses willing scribes.

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  3. Peter,
    I love you writing. It is a mixture of solid facts with experience of knowing the facts are true. You hit on surrender, which I think is quite telling because I just finished a three part articles on breaking the cycle of child abuse and 'surrender' was the third point. I run from the 'church-y' answer, but when I got down to what was needed to stop the cycle of abuse in your family, surrendering your will to God's will rose to the top of being something that was ultimate and critical for healing, and stopping the generational curse of abuse. The sin of abuse bloomed under doing 'what is right in your own eyes' life philosophy instead of 'doing what is right in the sight of God'!

    Thank you for your post.

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    1. Lindy you reitterate this so well that I feel you even raised it to a new level making even clearer as if consolidating the points made, you write so well and I really appreciate what you have said here, albeit some time ago, now being; 8th December 2012.

      Seperate note did you shoot your tag picture yourself? I think I recognise the flower, what would you say it is?

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    2. I have been dealing with anxiety and panic attacks for over 15 years. The thought of riding in a car on the interstate will send me into a panic attack. Any tips or suggestions for someone who struggles with panic attacks related to riding in a car?

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    3. Dear Tasha,

      I would recommend that you read the article on this blog about panic attacks, if you haven't already. Dealing with Panic Attacks

      The first thing to do is to recognise that you have an irrational fear causing these panic attacks, (I presume you know what it is. I had one that if I got in a car after I had an accident, I would have another accident.) Below is what I shared previously about how I overcame that:

      I had the misfortune of having a car crash while recovering from severe depression. My exhausted mind, already struggling with anxiety, was swamped by fears that assured me I was going to have heaps of car crashes, starting with the loan car, and then in every car I got in for the next two weeks, regardless of whose car it was. These fears were so fresh and powerful that they felt real.

      Remembering what I had learned, I sought the new perspective to have towards this irrational fear, and this was:
      1. These thoughts that say I am going to have lots of car crashes are not real.
      2. These thoughts are not what is going to happen, they are only what I am afraid is going to happen.
      3. Jesus said to let not my heart be troubled, but trust in God and in Him. John 14:1
      4. Therefore I will get in these cars and trust Him to keep me safe. Psalm 18:2

      I hope that helps,
      God bless
      Peter

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  4. Thank you for this teaching, Peter. It makes me really appreciate the power behind the Word of God when it comes to surrender.

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  5. Peter, another great post on a subject you know all too well. Thank you for taking the time to share once again. Blessings and hugs to you dear....

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  6. Peter, great post. I have found it to be key when I experience depression or anxiety to accept the feelings and surrender them to God. Fighting them makes them much worse!

    After reading your posts I bought "Self-Help for Your Nerves" and so far what Ive read is very good. Her take is very different from other doctors and therapists.

    P.S Thanks for your comment on my blog!

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  7. Hi Laura, thanks for dropping by. I like to be comfortable too, and it is hard when the Lord challenges us to leave that comfort zone to follow Him.

    Hey Lynne, lovely to hear from you again. 'Learning to live with it,' so Biblical, so simple, yet it never occurred to me during depression - I had to learn it. Thanks for sharing how the Lord taught this to you, and how it has helped with your insomnia. And I'm jealous about your Nana naps - I'm often only getting six hours a sleep a day too, but often because my little one wakes up early :)

    Thanks so much for the compliment, Lindylou. I'll pop over to your blog and check out your articles. When I was 19 I met Jesus in a most profound manner, and at that moment I surrended to Him all the pain, bitterness and anger from my childhood wounds. And just like you said, that released so much healing into my life.

    Hi Mary, where ever would we be without God's Word? I thank Him daily for the guidance and power and comfort His Word brings.

    Thanks JBR, I'm just glad that sharing what the Lord did in my life is able to encourage others. God bless you heaps :)

    Hi Marianne, thanks for your feedback. I'm glad to hear that you've been blessed by "Self Help for your Nerves" too. I struggled with severe depression for eight months, fighting and fearing and making minimal progress, until I read that book, and after that everything was so different. While reading her book I saw the Biblical basis for her ideas straight away.

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  8. Hi Peter,

    I just dropped by your blog to review the principles of dealing with the fear-adrenaline-fear cycle. This entry is so timely and wise--and how awesome that the biblical passages underscore Dr. Weekes' advice, and vise-versa. Thanks again for sharing your experience. It has blessed me, and many others, on this journey toward healing and wholeness.

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  9. While reading this blog I was experiencing an intense bout of depression and I immediately put in practice your advice, this is accepting the depression and let it pass. It did work!! It is not that I feel 100 % better but I do feel better. The technique is like tricking your own mind. I have fought with depression for 25 years. I am really looking for anything that can make me feel better.

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  10. Dear Anonymous,
    I was amazed to find that it works too, it had never occurred to me until I read Dr Weekes book.
    You could say it is like tricking your mind, but you could look at it the other way too. The fears and doubts of depression are the thoughts that are tricking and deceiving us.
    God bless
    Peter

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  11. I am struggling with insomnia for the first time ever in my life. I am 13 weeks post partum with my first child and have the insomnia since the third week. My mother is living with us and taking care of my baby at night, but I still can't sleep. I have tried different meds; xanax, paxil, remeron, benedryl, and lunesta. I am only currently on the paxil, as the side effects from the remeron were too strong although it helped me sleep. I pray to God for healing and felt him reveal himself to me 2 nights ago when I totally surrendered, but suffered a sleepless night last night, to only feel discouraged. I am reading (calm my anxious heart' and Jesus calling along with scriptures daily. I do not feel I am making Any progress and fear that this will never resolve. Please help provide some insight, as I feel so helpless.

    In Christ,
    Amy

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    1. Dear Amy,
      From my experience, some sleeping meds knock us out for about a week, but our system then slowly adjusts, so you could ask your doctor if the remeron is one such med. I had to take my medication at 5.00pm the first week, and then slowly moved it back to 8.30, and eventually to whenever I went to bed.

      Also, please read this article, including the reader's comments, which has lots of practicle ways of coping with insomnia.

      The main thing is to go to bed prepared not to sleep, and to be ready and willing to stay awake all night, accepting that this is OK. Because even if we stay awake all night, the rest is still very beneficial. And with this calm attitude, we may actually fall asleep. But we must not go to bed anxious, afraid we will not sleep, for that anxiety may well keep us awake all night.

      I hope this helps
      God bless
      Peter

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  12. Hello. My name is Aleksandra, and I've suffered through deep depression for about 2 months (since May). It ended a couple of weeks ago, however I am today starting to feel reoccurring worries, which pulled me in a cycle of anxiety, and I already today experienced a lot of symptoms from my last depression, including insomnia. Reading some of your articles however, helped me a lot, and I would really like to play my gratitude here, and thank God for you.
    As my biggest fear causing this anxiety is "what is I fall into that deep depression again", I am slowly starting to put myself into a mindset, that it might happen no matter what, and that's alright, because there are so many things I can do (which helped me break out the last time), to distract me away from the feeling. And every moment away from it will be a great gift for me from God, in which I can create (as an artist), or enjoy life otherwise. So what is there to fear that really? :)

    Thank you. Without being able to read your articles, maybe I would have spend the whole of tomorrow and next week or more, fretting over something that I can embrace and work with instead. It's not so bad after all.

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    1. Dear Anaidev,
      You are very welcome, so glad my articles have been of help.
      God bless you heaps,
      Peter

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  13. Thank you Peter

    Please keep writing these articles

    God Bless

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  14. Peter, your blog has been such a comfort to me. I was a very strong (so I thought) Christian for 14 years. Extreme stress from a family situation led me to experience panic attacks for the first time. I was so scared. I thought it was totally spiritual---while having them, the Enemy or my own overactive brain hammered me with accusing condemning thoughts. It wasn't until a friend asked me if I had ever had a panic attack that I began researching it and realized that was what happened to me. The residual effects of the attack are so frightening---the feelings of unreality---waking up in the wee hours of the morning trembling (with what I now think were residual adrenaline surges or something). I would just get out of bed and pray--thinking God was punishing me or something. Worst of all--I can't sense the Holy Spirit as I could before. And when I read scripture--it doesn't have the same power or feel that it is positive toward me as a child of God, rather, the condemning verses speak loudest to me. I can only read small bits of scripture at a time. I plead with God to heal me. It is truly a traumatic thing to experience, but I want you to know how much your blog has meant to me. I am desperate for Christian counsel in this matter and you brother are a blessing! I am ashamed to say that prior to this experience I was the Christian who could not understand how another Christian could possibly need an anti-depressant. The over-prescribing of it (especially to children) really bothered me, but I realize that in ignorance I "threw the baby out with the bath water" as they say. Now I am much more sympathetic which is surely a good thing. I have related to your experience in many ways. It's so difficult to go to church and hear how you should be so filled with joy---yet feel like a total fake because the feelings are anything but joyful. Even so, I try to thank God. I try to consider the possibility of this one day allowing me to minister to others in a way I could not have before---just as you do. I try to think on how this will help me focus on heaven which I did not think on much before, though I wanted to. Please give us an update and let us know how you are doing.
    Your sister in Christ---Jamie
    P.S. I want to share some other things with you that were encouragements to me: Charles Spurgeon's sermon, "Our Leader Through the Darkness". Also, a book by Tommy Nelson and Steve Leavitt: Walking On Water When You Feel Like Drowning. http://www.amazon.com/Walking-Water-When-Youre-Drowning-ebook/dp/B008VTTYA4 Tommy Nelson is a preacher in Denton, Texas who experienced our struggle with anxiety and depression. You can hear his testimony here: http://www.focusonthefamily.com/radio.aspx?ID=%7B1A0F9D4F-C845-46AD-B196-41C170EFCE27%7D
    I hope the links work.

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    1. Dear Jamie,

      Thank you for your comment, and I praise the Lord that He is using my writings and experiences with depression to help others. I have no doubt that you will be able to minister to others going through depression as well.

      I am glad your friend was able to point you to the truth about panic attacks, for thinking that they may be from God is such a trap. So liberating to learn they are merely our nervous system and mind over reacting to anxiety. Being unable to sense God's presence like we could, scripture seeming to have less power, and our focusing on scriptures that appear to be condemning us, are all results of depression distorting our world view and perspective. One thing that has been of immense help to me, is before praying, reading the Bible, even going to church, is to first change my perspective by looking at Jesus, and focus on His love for me, His acceptance of me, His delight in me.

      Thanks for the links, I'll have to check them out. Have you downloaded the booklet on
      depression on this blog? It lists the articles in sequential order, so you may find it helpful.

      For myself, these days I'm seeing about 4-5 weeks of good days to each week of bad days of depression. So I'm getting there - thanks for asking :)

      God bless
      Peter

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  15. Thanks for your reply, Peter. I have been through your blog with a fine tooth comb as well as your ebook on depression because you have so ministered to my situation.

    I hope this isn't an inappropriate question, but I would love to know what you do to change your perspective by focusing on Jesus before praying, reading the Bible, etc… Do you have a routine of scripture you bring to mind?

    I'm sure I need to personalize a way to do this as well. I am currently meditating on a verse or two at a time in the Song of Songs -- looking for Christ through cross referencing. I believe the Holy Spirit led me to this book because there is no condemning language in it.

    Ever since I entered the world of depression/anxiety after suffering panic attacks and gaining control --- I am able to do what I have to do as a wife and mother, etc…, but there is a regular physical feeling that I can only describe as a subtler "chill" feeling that I would love to just shake off and be rid of. I was so glad to read that our nervous system needs to heal just as a broken leg would.

    I look forward to seeing my Dr. this Friday and hopefully getting some meds to temporarily help the physical side of this.

    Thanks so much again… God bless you
    Jamie

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    1. Dear Jamie,

      Many people think of depression as merely a mental or emotional problem, but just as you have pointed out above, it affects us physically as well. You have mentioned the 'chill' feeling, for me, it is feeling physically disturbed, or ill at ease. In the early days of this episode of depression, it was all the time, now it comes and goes. Anti-depressant medications can greatly reduce the severity of these feelings, which helps a lot in the road to recovery.

      To answer your question, to change my perspective, I both reach out to and look to Jesus with my mind and my heart, and at the same time wait upon Him, opening my heart to Him. And then I pray to Him, "Thank you, Lord, that you love me; thank you, Lord, that I am right before You (we need to live our lives as a holy and living sacrifice before Him, and know that we are clothed with His righteousness): thank you, Lord, that you delight and rejoice over me, and quiet me with your love; thank you, Lord, that You are with me." And while I seek His face and wait upon Him, that black, distorted world view created by depression lifts away and I can 'see' normally for a while. And as the days and weeks pass and I slowly recover from depression, my perspective on life is returning to normal more and more often.

      God bless
      Peter










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  16. I felt so relieved to read your articles until I read (A small postscript, due to very severe depression or mental illness, there are situations where people not only have bad thoughts but actually desire or attempt to carry them out. In these cases, they need to seek professional help immediately, such as from a doctor or Christian therapist.)
    I am currently on Zoloft for anxiety and depression. After I had my first child I had to spend time in the emergency room because of post partum. I was afraid I would hurt my baby (such shame still as I type that 7 years later). After I spent 2 nights away from her and got some solid rest, I was better and went to counseling for the next year.
    For about the past 10 years I've been medicated for OCD thoughts and depression. My thoughts of hurting my children cause me to spiral into despair. This summer I cut back on my Zoloft and now am only on 100 mg. I was tired of feeling numb...to the good and the bad. I was doing great until a week ago and a darkness overcame me. I always have those "background thoughts". I'll see a rope and think what if I strangled my child. What if I burned down my house while they were napping. After a while those random thoughts feel like urges. Which then leads to such immense guilt and shame. I've been to many psychologists and psychyatrists. They have told me that I suffer from OCD. They tell me that I wouldn't do something like that and that those are just fears. They tell me I'm not crazy like those mothers I see on the news...but that is my fear. That I will crack and do something like that. I have a masters degree. I am a very good mother/homemaker. I love reading to my kiddos and snuggling with them. We do crafts, zoo, movies, etc. I have tons of friends and a close close knit family. I am open with my friends and family about my issues, too. I exercise all of the time. I read and study my Bible everyday. I grew up in a strict southern baptist church. I've been a Christian since I was 7. I've gone to prayer/healing services. I've given up caffiene before. I've searched and searched for the sin in my heart. I quote scripture all the time. I've got scripture posted all over my home. I'm just broken and don't know what to do. When those thoughts of hurting my precious children come they absolutely terrify me. I love my children and would die for them in a heartbeat which makes those fears so absurd on one hand. I found such great information in your article and then when I read that part about "urge" it cause that adrenaline rush to just shoot through me because that is what it feels like sometimes and I don't want to end up in a mental institution or lose my children. Please reply with any helpful advice you can. Thank you! -HM

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    1. Dearest HM,

      From reading your comment above, I can't see you ever doing any of the things that you are afraid you might do. I believe you have developed a habit of being afraid of your own thoughts.

      I know you have already read this post - Learning Not to Fear Our Own Thoughts, but do not worry about the disclaimer at the end. Instead, concentrate on putting the steps there into practice:

      1. Do not be afraid if an alarming/appalling thought pops into our mind. (it is only a thought, nothing more.)
      2. Do not worry where the thought came from, whether from the enemy, or something we fear, it is not significant.
      3. STOP, and ask our self, what do we believe or know about that topic? (eg, you love your children and would never hurt them.)
      4. COMPARE the original alarming/appalling thought with what we know we believe, and then keep the liberating truth in mind.
      5. Then move on and let time pass, leaving the episode behind. (Do not be concerned if the fear lingers for a while, remember the truth of what we believe, and the thought will soon fade away.)

      Please note that the longer you examine, fear or consider one of these fearful thoughts, the more real it will appear. But if you concentrate on something else, it will fade away.

      I think these articles may help you as well:

      How depression/anxiety causes its symptoms

      Facing depressions symptoms instead of fearing them

      Breaking depression's fear cycle.

      You said sometimes it feels like an urge to do these fearful things, but you have never acted upon any of them, from what you are shared above. So please do not worry about that. Fears and anxiety are a great big trick, a con. They make what we fear seem real, and larger than life, but in reality, they are nothing other than thoughts. (Of course, if you are ever genuinely concerned about any of those issues, do not hesitate to call a help line or see your doctor and counselor.)

      I hope this helps
      God bless
      Peter

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    2. Peter,
      Thank you so very much for taking the time to respond. I was so relieved to see that you had taken the time to write back to me this morning. You are correct. I have NEVER acted on my fears. I will read your suggested articles. Again, thank you for writing. I feel very isolated in my struggles. I have never met anyone who has any type of issues like this.
      Sincerely,
      HM

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    3. Dear HM,
      You're welcome. And I assure you that you are not alone with these types of issues, I went through the exact same thing back in the late 1980s. But when I learned that I was just being afraid of my own thoughts, and that they had no power, I was eventually set free from that habit of being afraid of my own thoughts.

      And to show you that you are not alone in this, Dr Claire Weekes writes in 'Self Help for your Nerves' talks about "the very common obsession [that is, a fearful mental habit] that a nervously ill mother will harm her child." If you can get hold of this wonderful book, Chapter 14 'Obsession' has two pages devoted to helping young mothers face, deal with, and overcome this type of fear/anxiety. The whole book is well worth reading.

      God bless
      Peter

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    4. Dear Peter,
      I just read part of the book you mentioned. I am also now seeing a Christian Therapist who works specifically in this area. He assured me that I am a good mother and actually am one of the safest people to watch children because I'm so terrified of doing anything to hurt them. Total answer to prayer to even find him : ) Thank you for your help. I hope to one day put all of this behind me. I thought for so long this was a struggle I would have to battle for the rest of my life. Now, I'm hoping that I can be healed through learning this process. Thank you! HM

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    5. Dear HM,
      I'm so thrilled to hear this wonderful news. God's so good :)
      And you don't need to be concerned that this issue will trouble you for the rest of your life. As the truth continues to sink into your mind, that you have just been afraid of your own thoughts, and that they mean nothing and have no power, you will be completely set free from the fear of them. You'll be able to dismiss them out of hand.
      Keep pressing into Jesus, our Wonderful Comforter and restorer or our souls.
      God bless
      Peter

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  17. Hi Peter! I was just checking out your blog, reading up on a few of your posts and had a quick question. I was hoping that you could email me back when you have a moment. Your time and response are much appreciated, thanks!

    - Cameron

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    1. Hi Cameron,
      Happy to email you back, but I'll need your email address please. You can find my email address if you click on 'view my profile.'
      God bless
      Peter

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  18. Peter,

    I really enjoyed reading your blog, but I am still suffering from deep depression and fear that my faith isn't real and that when we pass on, there is no heaven and no love.

    I had blamed all of those thoughts on my lack of faith, but through reading your blog, I have hope that what is perceived as "lack of faith" may in fact be more a function of clinical depression.

    I am taking Effexor XR and Adderall XR to combat my depression and have been for about 5 years now. I'm able to go three or four years without a depressive episode, but invariably the depression returns for two or three weeks before subsiding. Unfortunately, I'm currently experiencing one of the deepest depressions I've ever felt. Reading this blog is giving me hope. I would love to hear any thoughts or inspiration you can give.
    RR

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    1. Dear RR,

      One of the most pronounced symptoms of depression amongst Christians, is feeling disconnected from God, from their Christian Faith. So these thoughts you are having are normal symptoms of depression. You only 'fear' that your faith isn't real and that there is no heaven or love. However, deep down, below these obsessive, persistent fearful thoughts, you know that you believe in Jesus, you know He is real, and that heaven and His love are real too. So remind yourself daily that the only reason you are feeling this way, the only reason you are having these fears and doubts, are because of depression. If you were not depressed, if your mind was healthy, you wouldn't be having these fears and doubts at all. Keep reminding yourself of this every day, and you can restore your perspective back to a healthy one again.

      May I also encourage you to read the articles of this blog in this booklet, which presents them in sequential order. There are a lot of practical tips here to help you to change your perspective away from the fearful one, and back to the reality we have in Christ.
      Free booklet on depression

      God bless
      Peter

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    2. Peter
      I would value your prayers - I have been I'll with kidney problems and the big D
      - please pray for sense of his presence.
      May He help all those in this column
      Thankyou in His name
      Rod

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    3. Thanks for the update, Rod, will pray for your kidney problems as well.

      God bless
      Peter

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  19. Thank you for this blog Sir Peter. I'm suffering depression and anxiety attacks for 2 years. And now I'm having physical symptoms for 3 weeks like backaches, headaches, palpitations. Will surely apply this, I will give you updates about my depressions. Grace to you.

    Sincerely,
    Shenna

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    1. Dear Shenna

      Thank you for the message. I will uphold you in my prayers as you apply these techniques to what you are going through. You will still have good days and bad days, but over time you should see a clear pattern of improvement. The backaches should be one of the first things to fade away.

      God bless
      Peter

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  20. God has abandon me. I have prayed for over 7 years because of a crisis and nothing. When I increase my prayers things get worse. I am afraid to pray because I can't take anything else he will throw at me. Why is he doing this to me. Why has he abandoned me. that is my main prayer now. Where are you God. My cross is so heavy I can't carry it anymore. Not even a little sign of relief to help me go on. Am I that horrible in his site that he won't answer my prayers. I only hope I can hang on to my faith. I am sorry God that you don't like me . I hope somehow I can make you love me again and give me peace of mind

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    1. Dear Anonymous,

      Sorry to hear of your ongoing trial. But please do not think of it as coming from God. "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights," James 1:17. God only gives us good things. With regard to life's trials and troubles, He promises to help us in them and through them. And to use them for good in our lives. (James 1:2-4, Romans 8:28). May I encourage you to pray more like this - "God, please show me what you want me to learn through this," and "Jesus, please draw me closer to You through this." And please be assured that God loves us all. This is His nature - God is love.

      Hang in there,
      Peter

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  21. Dear Peter,
    This article is heaven sent. I am not suffering from depression (not that I know of) but have been suffering from physical symptoms for more than 10yrs. What started as minor symptoms have grown so big that I fear them and the fearful anticipation of an attack, many a times, trigger another one.
    Chanced upon your timely article as I was looking for some form of encouragement having had consecutive symptoms attacks for the past few days. Fearful and discouraged. Sick and tired of the *merry go round".
    Your article and all the comments gave me much relieve. I will learn to surrender my condition totally to god and not let them have power over me. As you say, God is in control! I will check out your other articles and book memtioned. Thank you

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  22. Dear Peter,
    This blog has brought me some hope to get through what I am currently going through. How did you find the strength to not allow these troubles to consume you? I feel as though I'm loosing myself to this insomnia and fear. The fear is being afraid of not sleeping. I'm in the vicious cycle. I will think positive and pray and pray but then at night when I lay down the fear comes and finally when I let the fear go I lay there and do not sleep. Or if I do sleep I sometimes wake up with a panic attack and analyze did I sleep? I am exhausted physically and mentally and every morning it takes me hours to get going again with my day. I have had thoughts that I cannot go on like this. I have only been in this for 5 weeks but I read on here that people have this for years. I have reached out to doctors and am now taking meds but waiting for the full affect to kick in. I pray that once I can think rationally I can hopefully pull myself out of this dark place and move on with my life peacefully. I do know it's God telling me to have faith in him and to be steadfast and wait for him to bring me peace but in the meantime it's just so hard. Do you have any advise? Will I be able to get out of this?

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    1. Dear Anonymous,

      Thank you for sharing what you are going through. To answer your question, yes, you can most certainly get through and out of this trial you are going through.

      The first thing you need to do is to commit this entire situation to Jesus and remind yourself daily that all things are in His hands. We have no reason to fear or worry.

      Secondly, please read the article on this blog about how to cope with insomnia. Dealing with insomnia.

      In a nutshell, when you go to bed each night, be prepared to get no sleep. Realise that going to bed at night and not sleeping, is still resting and is still good for you. You must accept this and go to bed calm, willing to stay awake all night without becoming frustrated, or angry, or fearful. Any of these three emotions can keep you awake. Acceptance, on the other hand, can help you fall asleep.

      I'm glad to hear you are taking meds. Depending on the med, they can take up to 3 weeks to take effect, but you should notice a big difference when they do. But the most important thing is to change your attitude towards going to bed, as per above and the article.

      God bless
      Peter

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  23. Hi,

    I read your article and am currently going through this as well. I think it started due to alcoholism. I quit for about 2 weeks from alcohol then relapsed slightly then quit again for almost a week now.

    I now am experiencing frequent panic attacks that have affected my ability to work. I am very worried that this will develop into depression. My doctors and recovery councilor keep telling me that this will pass but it will take time. I feel like I can't function properly.

    Here is what I do in the meantime
    -Get up early and Pray, Read the Bible as much as I can (20-30 minutes)
    -Exercise for about 20 minutes or so
    -(Try) to eat a healthy breakfast
    -Work for 10 hours - Get a good lunch in
    -
    -Come Home try to eat dinner
    -Try hard to rest the entire night
    -Read the Bible and Pray with my family
    -Sleep, I usually sleep pretty well but have been waking up with trembling panic, usually I can get back to sleep.

    I'll get 1 day maybe out of the entire 3 weeks that I feel okay just slightly nervous here and there but the next day its more overwhelming than I can think of! Just recently I couldn't function at all the entire day however, that night I felt completely calm.

    This is very strange

    I got prescribed citalopram 20mg and am afraid to take it because I heard that it can make you worse and I feel like I can't handle it now as it is,

    So basically

    Intense anxiety in the late mornings and afternoons

    Little to none in the morning and at bedtime

    I've tried just accepting it and it seems to help somewhat, I'm just tired of feeling like this.

    Oh also mostly, when I am feeling calm and normal, I can't stop moving and I get easily confused but when im anxious I feel like I can't move unless its a full on panic attack then I can't stop moving either.

    Any thoughts on the anti-depressants? My therapist and councilor said I could probably handle this without the drugs but if I can't function at work then to try them

    I feel like I'm on a super fast roller-coaster,

    Any advice would help

    Thank you!

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    1. Dear Anonymous,

      Going by all that you've told me, I think your doctor is on the ball about trying the meds. They should be of great help in reducing the severity and duration of the anxiety symptoms etc you are currently experiencing.

      Firstly, please never feel guilty for taking anti-depressants. You would not feel guilty for taking ventolin if you were an asthmatic, right? It is necessary to treat a tangible disease. Anxiety/depression is just as tangible, it causes our brain to produce too much negative adrenaline, which causes all sorts of emotional, physical, mental problems. The anti-depressants help to correct that adrenaline imbalance. So please consider taking them as long as you need them.

      Secondly, note that it normally takes our bodies about a week to get used to the the meds. So if you have any symptoms, of course discuss with your doctor, but also wait for your body to adjust. It can also take anti-depressants up to three weeks to take effect, and three months to take full effect. So again, it is a matter of waiting for it work.

      I also recommend that you do not read the brochure that comes with the anti-depressants. Get a family member to read it, and to observe you for any negative reactions. An anxious mind can manufacture reactions by simply fearing them. Remember, symptoms are temporary, our bodies do adjust. But talk to your doctor about any strong reactions and any concerns you have.

      It's good to hear you are getting stuck into God's word, church, and are doing regular exercise. Also try to get 8 hours sleep a night. Try to spend time worshipping Jesus as well, maybe listening to Hillsong United songs on youtube, and worshipping along with it.

      Hope that helps

      God bless

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  24. Hello.Im Elle from Malaysia.So glad to see this blog.Im hving this panic attack when my age is 19.The panic attack give me a lot of problem.I have no confident to going anywhere and also sometimes I felt giveup.I scared going to church tis day because I felt it can attack me anytime.I scared to go far from home to continued my studies because of tis panic attacks.I felt lost hope.I surrender my life to god.I miss going to church n worship him but my condition dont allow me to do so.Please pray for me.

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    1. Dear Elle,

      Thank you for the prayer request, I will pray for you.

      Also, please be encouraged that panic attacks are a big lie, they try to trick you that they are more powerful than they really are. You can learn how to react to them so that they lose their power, so that soon you don't fear them coming at all, and even if they do, they will be much weaker. Eventually, you can stop them before they start.

      Please read this post on how to deal with them:
      Dealing with panic attacks

      God bless
      Peter

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  25. So glad I found this on the internet. It's comforting to read your story and see how you've been able to go forward in life - thanks for sharing -

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