I have been sharing with you recently about the Anxiety and Depression that both my love and I have been dealing with. You can read more about that here, here, and here. I must admit, I have been skeptical in the past when I would hear people talking about either of those issues. They have become such buzz words. Over-used, over-diagnosed, and over-medicated. At least, that’s what I thought. It just so happens that my best friend suffers greatly with a real-deal anxiety disorder and after walking through that with her, and seeing her several times in the throws of severe panic attacks, I just didn’t think most people knew what they were talking about when they claimed that a situation gave them an “anxiety attack.” I doubted seriously that they had really experienced what I had observed in my friend. I was so skeptical, in fact, that I even denied that the issues I was experiencing were actually depression and anxiety. I said things like, “Oh it’s just stress because my situation is difficult right now. When life get’s better, I’ll feel better. No need to over-react.”
Back in February, upon the recommendation of our therapist, I started to read The Anxiety Cure, by Dr. Archibald Hart. It is the most helpful, informative, yet Biblically sound resource on this topic that I have ever found. Reading it changed so much about how I think about Anxiety and Depression because it helped me to actually understand the physiological aspects. If you suspect that you or someone you know my suffer from Depression or an Anxiety Disorder, this book is for you!
The Science of Brain Chemistry
After a brief introduction to the topic and an outline of what you can expect in the book, Dr Hart jumps right into a very thorough explanation of the science of brain chemistry. I found this to be so helpful! I had done a little research already, and knew some of what he shared, but never before had I seen the information so well organized and explained. His presentation made it so simple to put the pieces together and walk away with a fairly complex understanding of the hows and whys of brain chemistry.
Dr. Hart went on to build on that foundation and gave an equally thorough lesson on the medications used to treat Depression and Anxiety. Y’all this was such an eye-opener to me! It informed my presumptions and changed my mind. I was suddenly willing to consider the use of medication where I had always dismissed it before. Of particular help to me was the understanding that the use of medication did not necessitate a life-long dependence. In fact in many, many cases it is simply a jumping off point to healing the brain so that it will do the work it was created to do on its own.
In this first half of the book, which is dealt with in very clinical terms, Dr. Hart very wisely breaks some of that up by including stories from some of his patients. These narratives serve, not only as a break from the scientific lingo, but also to give the reader a sense of community. It is always nice to hear about other people who deal with issues that we deal with. It’s validating.
Lifestyle Changes that Promote a Healthy Brain
I love the extremely scientific approach in the first half of this book as Dr. Hart educates his audience. But I also love the way his tone completely changes in the second half as he moves into more practical advice on how to integrate lifestyle changes that will facilitate long term brain health. Incorporating these strategies will allow all but the more severe victims of these disorders to live free from anxiety and depression with only minimal, short term use of medications.
With the heart of a teacher, Dr. Hart equips his audience to overcome damaging thinking and reprogram our thought processes. He gives practical exercises and daily practices to promote rest and relaxation. He offers realistic strategies to combat stress in the business of day-to-day life. He confronts our tendency to worry and gives a 7 week plan to overcome it. He talks about fears and phobias and offers suggestions on how to treat them. Finally, he explains how we can find healing through diet, exercise, Biblical meditation, humor, finding a purpose, and turning to God.
As I said before, I highly recommend this book. It is not a quick read. There is tons of information and it may take some time to get through it all with a good solid grasp on it. It’s worth the effort, though. You’ll walk away with a much clearer picture of Anxiety and Depression.