“Noble deeds and hot baths are the best cures for depression.”
— Dodie Smith (1896–1990)
The author of One Hundred and One Dalmatians, Smith, states a rather simplistic suggestion, but one worthy of some thought, especially from the unfortunate vantage point of helpless desperation. There may just be something in what seems a throwaway line.
There are many forms of depression, as well as many stimuli to it, so simplistic answers are generally an anachronism of sense; they don’t help. Instead they infuriate and polarise the sufferer and their seemingly dispassionate world.
But let us entertain this throwaway line to see if it helps; let us move cautiously in the direction of a solution, even if a temporary solution, which, for depression, is generally that case in any event.
The Solution of Noble Work
Many times part of the source of depression may be due to a lack of purpose. Two general causes are in view: a lack of purpose and achievement (task-caused) and a lack of relational satisfaction (relationship-caused). Work can help with both these ends, given that we can work for a purpose, achieve our objectives, and, in combination, it can be a perfect outlet to relate with other people in the completion of our tasks in non-threatening ways.
Work is work, but it has a complete other dimension when that work takes on real tangible meaning; when work is done for a higher purpose or higher calling.
Such a thing as noble work, like serving others in love, by giving them what they cannot get without us, may not be the perfect solution, but it has some positive effect.
The Solution of Suitable Rest
Sometimes fatigue plays too big a part in our lives, and many depressions are caused by burnout.
Perhaps it is no coincidence that those who suffer from depression may also suffer anxiety-related problems—they may tend to worry or find it hard to relax. Some of this anxiety is unconscious to the individual. There may be worry and tension underneath without so much as a clue within the grasp of conscious control.
Finding the opportunity, then, to take a hot tub, to get away alone, to have the senses massaged somehow; these and many more are good ideas to explore; anything to escape in healthy ways.
Sometimes, just sometimes, depressed occasions and seasons can be aided by a noble deed or timely restful encounter. These simplistic solutions don’t always work, but often what we need is something rather simple; the challenge is finding just what. Doing something worthwhile—whether it is work or rest—may just be what’s needed.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.