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Christian Counseling - The Gray World of Depression

Many people have claimed that the world seems flat in color or even gray when they are depressed. It turns out there is a biological basis for that experience.

Forty people diagnosed with major depression (twenty of which were on antidepressant meds) and 40 nondepressed people viewed a checkerboard pattern of differing variations of black and while. Electrodes recorded retina cells' activation, which react differently to light and dark images and, therefore, send different messages to the brain. The results showed that depressed people, on medication or not, were significantly less able to detect contrast differences between light and dark. The more depressed the individual the less contrast was detected by the brain.1

This is one more in a long list of depression effects. Imagine permanently wearing sunglasses that only let you see minimal contrasts of black and white and limited color, day after day. We know how many people  feel when the weather is cloudy and rainy for long periods of time. It feels depressing in a world were color has been minimized or lost after having experienced it. It may be that impaired contrast perception adds to the experience of depression, which adds to impaired perception, in a grave cycle of negative influence.

Because of the severity of health concerns for those who are moderately to severely depressed, treatment is a necessary option. Research supports a combination of medication, counseling and exercise to be of help over a single treatment regimen.

In my experience, a lack of faith, which some Christians claim to be the root cause, is very rarely the problem and only seems to occur when depression is accompanied by a crisis of faith, such as when one's image of God doesn't meet with the reality of experience over an important issue.

What has helped you or loved ones to manage depression?


1 Miller, Michael Craig, M.D. Harvard Mental Health Newsletter. How depression may alter visual perception. November 2010: Vol 27, No. 5, p. 7. 

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