This post is an excerpt from the study guide which accompanies the “Overcoming Depression-Anxiety: A Suffering Paradigm” seminar. This portion is one tool from “ACKNOWLEDGE the Specific History and Realness of My Suffering.” To RSVP for this and other Summit counseling seminars visit bradhambrick.com/events.
Identifying the types of anxiety-depression with which you struggle is an essential step towards gaining a clear understanding of the intensity and duration of your struggle. (Note: This is referencing the depression-anxiety evaluation in a previous post.) It is odd that we are not always accurate in our perception of the frequency and intensity of our struggle.
- We may have intense periodic struggles that we continually brace against so we feel they are “always present.”
- We may have several different anxiety-depression struggles that we lump together and give them a single name.
- We may have adjusted to low-grade, background depression-anxiety struggle that we don’t “count” anymore.
- We may intentionally try to ignore milder symptoms until they arrest our attention in peak moments.
If we are going to be effective in overcoming our experience of anxiety-depression, we will need to be accurate in our assessment of when it occurs and the fluctuation in its intensity. It is an unwise general who goes to war against an adversary he does not know well.
Inductive Bible Study: Go to an on-line Bible study tool (for instance biblestudytools.com) and search for passages that include words like “before” and “after.” Notice how much attention the Bible gives to describing when one event occurs in relation to another. Then search for words like “great” and “more” or “less.” Notice how much attention the Bible gives to the intensity of various experiences. Chances are you will not read every passage listed – they are too many – but you should get a sense of how much God cares about the kind of details you are discovering with this exercise.
The tool below is intended to help you track the frequency and intensity of various symptoms of depression-anxiety across a month. The top row demarks one column for each day of the month. Rows along the side give places to track each symptom. If your counselor or friend wants you to track a symptom that is not included a row is provided at the bottom for you to track this.
As you record this information here are several patterns to look for:
- Look for symptoms that cluster together – occur or peak at the same time.
- Look for symptoms that occur before or after a significant event (e.g., tragedy, visit from stressful relative, payday, etc…). When something upsetting or exciting occurs mark the day of the month with a symbol and write what occurred on the back of this page next to that symbol.
- Look for symptoms that occur before or after other symptoms. For instance, what symptoms occur in the days before you experience a panic attack?
- Look for similarities in the pattern of your emotions across weeks or months. This may indicate biological rhythms (e.g. menstrual cycle) or logistical rhythms (e.g., work week, shift work schedule, child custody schedule, etc…).
More will be assessed about the story behind (chapter four of this study) and the motive for (chapter three of personal responsibility counterpart to this suffering study) in latter portions of your study. At this point in the process you are merely trying to become more self-aware of the fluctuations in frequency and intensity or our various depression-anxiety experiences.
- To download this resource: DEP_ANX Daily Symptom Chart_2.0
For the various counseling options available from this material visit www.summitrdu.com/counseling.
If this post was beneficial for you, then consider reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Anxiety” or “Favorite Posts on Depression” post which address other facets of these subjects.