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Archive for September, 2014

What Causes Depression?

Posted on Tuesday, September 30th, 2014 by Sanctuary staff

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Depression Part 1: What Causes Depression?

By: Aileen Tedrow

I decided to study depression more in-depth for a season and am excited to share my findings with you. In preparing to write about depression, I realize the term holds a vast meaning for many people, whether one has suffered from it, witnessed loved ones struggling, or simply been an outside observer. This can lead to confusion and questions about what depression is. This month we will set an initial foundation for the causes of depression. I have often heard depression referred to as the “common cold” of mental health. While I agree that depression is prevalent in our society, the causes and treatment are more intricate than the common cold and one cannot simply “tough it out.” There is not always a quickly identifiable cause of depression, but if we begin to explore potential causes we can clear up some of the confusion. It is my hope that awareness will also give us more compassion for ourselves and others that are struggling. When examining the cause of depression rather than thinking of it in a linear fashion, such as A+B=C, think of it like a spider web with many intersecting parts that may or may not have a clear starting point, but are worth being traced. Within this web it’s common to find a myriad of causes and effects. There are six common “cause” categories that can be looked at: physical, emotional, spiritual, traumas/abuse, outside factors, and grief. Within each category is a list of causes that can affect a person’s well-being. For example, a person might carry around unresolved anger for years (emotional), which in turn leads to feelings of disconnect from God (spiritual). This is related in part to abuse from childhood (trauma) and the depression is set off by being laid off from work (outside factor). Additionally, a person could have a starting physical cause such as a dip in serotonin (a naturally made chemical found in our body that contributes to our sense of well-being), but the fallout from being depressed could lead to disruptions in relationships, career, and personal identity; additional “micro-traumas” which compound upon the depression. While these examples don’t fit everyone’s experience, I hope it serves as an illustration to the web depression can cause. I would like to note there that are various degrees of depression that people experience for either long or short periods of time. I will be writing more about that next month. I know that thinking about the numerous causes that can be linked to depression itself can be disheartening, but we do not need to lose hope! There are many medical and therapeutic advancements being made in the fight against depression. The complexity we see within people may contribute to our various causes of depression, but that complexity can also be one of our greatest strengths. When examining mental health, I am often reminded of Psalm 139:14 “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made,” and I am struck by the realization that we are touched by brokenness. However, it is because of that depth of God’s design of humanity that we are able to heal and walk with others out of brokenness down the healing path. Thankfully, we have a great, compassionate God who understands and cares about the trail we walk down and who walks with us. I give thanks knowing that when we are dealing with and talking about the brokenness in the world, we don’t have to go at it alone. I would like to recommend Dr. Richard Winter’s book When Life Goes Dark. This is a great read for anyone desiring to learn more about depression or take an in-depth look at the causes mentioned above.

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Sound Relationship House: Legacies

Posted on Tuesday, September 30th, 2014 by Sanctuary staff

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By: Darcy Hakkarainen
In this newsletter over the past year I have been exploring the Sound Relationship House (SRH) marriage theory based on the research of Drs. John and Julie Gottman and the Relationship Research Institute. If you are interested in reading about the first 6 levels of the house, please see the previous blog entries. Level seven is the attic where legacies from our cultures and our families are encountered. Every relationship is a cross-cultural experience because even if many other aspects of culture, region, and religion are similar, each family of origin (the family you grew up in) is unique. In creating your own family you learn to combine parts of your legacies and reject other parts. Together, you and your spouse build your own new family culture, one that has never existed before. This is the legacy your child(ren) will take into their future relationships. This level, called Creating Shared Meaning and Values, is about creating an inner life together as a couple and a family: a unique family culture with customs (Sunday dinner out), rituals (a special birthday party when a child becomes a specific age or a champagne toast after the birth of a child), and myths (stories a couple tells that explain their marriage). Family rituals may develop naturally as a couple bring in things they each enjoyed from their own childhood or add to their own family what they felt lacked in their family of origin. In the 1950’s having dinner together as a family was a common family ritual. Today this ritual is observed by less than 1/3 of U.S. families. Further more, more than half of those who enjoy a family dinner have the TV on during dinner. Ecker & Walters (2003) found that consistent family rituals encourage the social development of children and increase feelings of family cohesiveness by 17%. Shared Meaning emerges as rituals are prioritized in a family. There are many family benefits to Shared Meaning. Having shared meaning leads to greater stability and a sense of “we-ness” in a relationship. It also helps partners settle conflicts and pursue the goals that are collectively important to them like building a successful business or raising healthy, well rounded children. The researchers found that when a couple finds shared meaning they are willing to support one another’s dreams, even if they don’t personally gain from that dream. “Shared Meaning is critical for achieving satisfied lifelong relationships,” (Bringing Baby Home Couples Workbook, p. 136). The Sound Relationship House is not a “building” that gets built once in a relationship and a family. It is a house that must be revisited often. Relationships are growing or they are in a state of atrophy. Blessings on you as you strengthen and grow your relationship!

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The Emotionally Healthy Church: Principal 1

Posted on Wednesday, September 17th, 2014 by Sanctuary staff

The Emotionally Healthy Church

PRINCIPLE 1: Look Beneath the Surface

In his book Emotionally Healthy Church, Peter Scazzero suggests seven principles that will create a culture of real discipleship in our churches. Today I’ll summarize the first principle, which is that becoming truly Christ-like requires coming to know ourselves in truth. Experiences of failure or disappointment sometimes provide the prompt to look deeper within and trust God more fully to make us whole. Scazzero gives us four ways we can look deeper to become emotionally healthy Christ-followers who can help form an emotionally healthy church body:

1. Awareness of what I am feeling and doing.

“Most Christians, I’m afraid, are self-conscious but not self-aware” (p. 79). Maturity comes when we shift our energy from trying to look right to ourselves and others, and honestly look at ourselves in the light of God’s mercy.

2. Asking “Why?” “What’s going on?”

God made us intricate and complex, and maturity comes when we wonder about the meaning of our own feelings, reactions, and wishes. I’ve seen huge growth unleashed in the lives of those who take a break from defensiveness or self-criticsim and take a look with genuine curiosity.

3. Linking the gospel and emotional health

I can’t overstate the difference it makes to see ourselves with Christ. Apart from His mercy we’re prone to hide and dread an honest peek at ourselves. But when we receive the gift of His righteousness and let His mercy into our eyes, we can bear to see ourselves as loved people who have more growing to do.

4. Getting rid of the ‘Glittering Image’

Learning to look within ourselves as those accepted in Christ delivers us from the need to win everyone’s liking and approval. This yields a huge return of energy and effort that can now be spent on loving God, receiving from Him, and loving others as ourselves.

Click here to read more about how we can see ourselves with more honesty and compassion.

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Creating Shared Meaning

Posted on Thursday, September 11th, 2014 by Sanctuary staff

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By: Darcy Hakkarainen

Research conducted by Dr. John Gottman and others at the Relationship Research Institute shows that the two things most needed to make a relationship last are a strong friendship and an effective way to regulate conflict.  In the last two newsletters handling conflict was explored. Conflict is more easily dealt with when a couple has created a culture of appreciation for each other and focused on their friendship. In previous newsletters building friendship was explored by looking at the first
several levels of The Sound Relationship House (SRH), a schema developed by Gottman and his team for illustrating the foundation of a marriage. Knowing  your spouse (their Love Map), communicating Fondness and Admiration (or affection and respect), and clearly expressing your needs and responding to the needs of your spouse are aspects of that foundation.

Once a couple has strengthened their friendship and found ways to regulate conflict, safety to focus on the final 2 levels of the SRH is created. Making Life Dreams and Aspirations Come True is level six and it incorporates each preceding level.  This step is about creating the necessary conditions for each of you to be able to honor one another’s life dreams and life goals. What is the basis of a continued positive emotional connection even during conflict? Therapists once believed that if conflicts were resolved, positive feelings would rush into the couple’s relationship as easily as air rushes into a vacuum. This, it turns out, is not the case. Positive emotional connections, including play, fun, exploration, and adventure need to be built intentionally. Don’t forget to keep building a strong friendship (for it is a journey not a destination) and finding way to use what you have learned about your spouse’s Love Map to date each other in meaningful ways!

Some conflict is very difficult to resolve and a couple may get into a gridlock position.  This level of the SRH is the basis of unlocking conflict gridlock, in which the couple’s values within a position in the gridlocked conflict are explored and understood. In this way it is the bridge to the top of SRH, which is Creating Shared Meaning: Legacy, Values & Rituals of Connection. Let’s briefly explore this bridge here.  Conflict gridlock often stems from inner ideals or values. If possible try to uncover the hidden dreams behind your partner’s position during conflict. This may not come naturally to you or your spouse but is worth it. Broadening the conversation to include hopes, values, goals and dreams provides potential places of overlap between you and your spouse; places of common meaning or where a compromise could be reached.

Finally, as the name suggests, the sixth level of SRH is also about helping one’s partner realize important life goals and making the relationship, in general, effective at Making Dreams and Aspirations Come True. Talking about life dreams and the meaning behind them requires trust.  These conversations might leave you feeling exposed.  However, the risk in this area has the potential for great gains since vulnerability often leads to a deep emotional connection between those who have shared in it.  This growing emotional connection and ability to move through gridlocked conflict will prepare couples for the seventh and final level of SRH which will be explored in the next newsletter.

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