The sixth step in overcoming depression is to process your losses. A loss can be real, threatened or imagined, which is often a negative thought or lie that is believed. Either one can precipitate a depression. How we respond to any loss or crisis will determine how fast we recover. The following steps will help you overcome your losses:

1. Identify each loss

Concrete losses are easier to recognize than abstract losses. Changing jobs and moving to a new location can precipitate a depression even though it could improve your social status and financial base. The move may mean the loss of friends, community, and church. It will take some time to build new friendships and become part of a new church family. Many losses are multifaceted. For instance, the concrete loss of a job and wages may be accompanied by the abstract losses of self-respect, sense of worth, or collegial relationships. People don’t react the same to losses because they have different values, and different levels of maturity. In order to get beyond denial and into the grieving process, you must understand what it is that you are losing or have already lost.

2. Separate concrete from abstract losses

Concrete losses are tangible while abstract losses relate more to personal goals, dreams and ideas. Abstract losses relate deeply to who we are, and why we are here. Many concrete losses, such as the loss of a job, are contaminated with abstract loses. You may find a new job next week, but remain depressed because you feel the pain of rejection and wrongly believe you are a failure. That is another reason why it is so important to understand who we are in Christ and find our acceptance, security, and significance in Him.

3. Separate real, imagined, and threatened losses

You cannot process an imagined or threatened loss in the same way you can a real one. In a real loss you can face the truth, grieve the loss, and make the necessary changes that make it possible to go on living in a meaningful way. A lawyer heard a rumor that his firm was going to be sued for services he performed. He thought, “I’m ruined. The firm is going down and it is all my fault.” Such thinking led to a major depression and anti-depressant medications. I saw him a year later and the company wasn’t sued. It was just imagined.

Dr. Neil

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