Adventist medical doctor Neil Nedley is president of the Weimar Center of Health and Education. He developed the Nedley Depression Recovery Program that emphasizes practicing the health principles found in the Adventist health message as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. He utilizes exercise, nutrition, supplements, temperance, water, fresh air, sunshine, the beauty of nature, and rest. Whatever affects the physical affects the spiritual, mental, and emotional parts of us, and vice versa. Dr. Nedley will prescribe medication only when needed.
In addition to health principles, he uses the calming effect of music therapy, specifically spiritual and classical music. Think of David playing the harp for the mentally suffering King Saul.
Dr. Nedley uses Bible study, Scriptural meditation, and memorization because nothing matches the power of regular feeding on the Word of God. Remember Proverbs 12:25 says a good word makes the heart glad. Is there any word out there better than God’s Word?
Dr. Nedley also uses cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is not an alternative treatment but mainstream. In its simplest form, CBT is an in-depth application of Jesus’ counsel when He said the truth shall set you free.
CBT takes seriously Proverbs 23:7; “For as [a man or woman] thinks within himself, so he is.” In other words, right thinking can lead to right feeling, which can lead to right behavior, which is the goal of heaven – a transformed mind, a sanctified life, useful to God’s service.
Not every case of depression needs to be treated with CBT, but it is a statistically successful treatment in many cases. What else would we expect from a Scripturally sound strategy?
I will share two more treatment approaches that are considered alternative as well as Scripturally sound.
Reaching out to help others can be a good way to deal with depressed symptoms. We may not feel like reaching out, but we have to remember what God told Cain when his countenance fell. God said, “If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up” (Gen 4:7)? In other words, God was telling Cain to do the next right thing, even though he didn’t want to, and it would have benefited him. Whereas CBT focuses on thoughts affecting feelings that affect behavior, this approach focuses on behavior affecting thoughts and feelings. Whatever works is the right approach.
The last alternative treatment is what I consider to be foundational for dealing with depression. Simply put – with Christ, all things are possible!
Do we look at Elijah, Job, David, Jerimiah, and even Jesus and ask, “How could you have symptoms of depression?” (See blog part 1)
We don’t ask that because we know they had legitimate reasons. There has always been a multitude of valid reasons for depression in this world of sin and imperfection!
Have you suffered from the symptoms of depression and didn’t know why (see symptoms in blog part 1)? Jesus knows why! Whatever the reasons and through it all, He has never left nor forsaken us.
Why? Because, “I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, [nor depression], nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8: 38, 39).
God’s promise is true. Like the picture of the footprints in the sands of our lives, when we look back and see only one set of prints during the darkest and hardest times of our life, it was then, that Jesus was the One carrying us through.
The prophet Jerimiah said it well, “Through the Lord’s mercies, we are not consumed, God’s compassions fail not, they are new every morning, therefore, I hope in Him” (Lam. 3: 22 – 24).
Jesus said when we belong to Him, whoever we are, we will have tribulations in this world!
We may do all the right things with our finances, health, and relationships, but God’s children still lose finances, health, and relationships.
Depression is just one of the many types of tribulation in this world, because the pain and difficulty of tribulation comes in all shapes and sizes.
The good news is that while we are in Jesus, it is Jesus, who has overcome the world and all of its tribulations, including depression.
Jesus sweat great drops of blood. His soul was exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death. He pleaded on the cross, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? He knew what it feels like to be so weighed down, that life itself was escaping even Him.
As a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, He knows the pain of darkness of soul and He knows and feels our pain when we’re in it too!
He never leaves us alone in our journey, but rather, He bears it with us, promising healing for the brokenhearted, release from darkness, comfort to all who mourn, the oil of joy
instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair (Isaiah 61: 1-3).
Why did Jesus bare our griefs and carry our sorrows? Because it was His mission to conquer it for us, by staying true to His Father, while dying on the cross.
He may use counselors and well-researched treatment methods, He may use health principles and music, but He always uses the truth of His Word that sets us free, and He always uses His presence, and He always uses His abiding love.
Because no one in this world cares for you like Jesus, you can cast all your care upon Him, remembering that all things, not some, but all things are possible with Jesus!
Then we can say, “He may not have saved me from the storm, but He saved me through the storm, to refine me, and so I can be with others through their storm too.”
“Therefore (says Jerimiah), my hope (and ours), is in Him.”