Depression better or cured after leaving Mormonism?

absolutelyunsure July 2012

So, with Utah using so many anti-depressants is there any proof, quantitative or anecdotal that shows when people leave the morg that their depression lessens or is cured? I am just looking for anything that might help some people very close to me.

I do know that if someone has depression the morg definately does not help...just pray harder, be righteous and you will be happy...just ends up hurting the person more.

Re: Depression cured/toned down out of the church?
That's why RfM is more helpful in that process - depression is weakness of the mind that keeps you from healing from it, and if TSCC [this so called church] provides or promotes that weakness directly or indirectly (in the mindset), that influence must be weakened by de-programming the mindset. There are other ways to start feeling better about yourself, of course, but TSCC doesn't really even recognize this problem yet and if and when it does it is dependent on knowledge from outside to start doing something constructive for these individuals (as for about everything else of course - it doesn't come up with anything at all by itself it seems).

Re: Depression cured/toned down out of the church?
The 'spirit' in TSCC after 180 years hasn't really evolved into something that resembles empathy close enough to contribute to something good in this world. And that may be because they are so cock sure they always were the best and still are, and nothing can compete...

Re: Depression cured/toned down out of the church?
For most, leaving TSCC likely begins an easing of depression, for some depression is left behind. Leaving the church allows a person to consider lots of new possibilities, along with hope for a better tomorrow.

To successfully deal with depression, most persons must participate in their own process, and work for self-understanding. With new understanding that obsession with negativity is a self-generated state, the person can learn new patterns of inner dialogue and values clarification. There is a need for some method(s) that reliably reduces and relieves stress. I practice daily service, exercise, and meditation to relieve stress.

Clouds of depression may at times begin to form in my mind, but if I stick to my program, they almost always thin and blow over the mountains, every day.

I grew up with undiagnosed childhood depression which rapidly lifted . . .
when I left the mormon church as a young adult.

I don't like being overly controlled and demeaned without good cause. Nor do I like having to live with and accomodate condradictory and nonsensical regulations and leadership.

Having freedom to do my own thinking and decision making liberated me from depression and opened the way for a successful happy life with a smarter better class of friends.

Re: Depression cured/toned down out of the church?
I think it depends.

For some people, becoming fully authentic can be freeing. And depression can be situational (the same as losing a loved one, divorce, etc.).

For others, if your family has issues (made worse by mormonism) and is unhealthy and dysfunctional, sometimes professional help is needed. Not LDS SS, who do not need to be licensed professionally and often report back to the bishop.

I needed to learn how to live and deal with people after moism, and I'm still learning. But figuring out your true feelings and acknowledging them (not encouraged by the mormon church) can be helpful with depression (sometimes known as internalized anger, anger against yourself).

Re: Depression cured/toned down out of the church?
I think you have to weigh the elements of church membership that contribute to depression against the losses that are incurred by leaving. Part of this is deciding if a person can better cope with depressive elements of church membership, whatever they are for that person against coping with loss of family, social support, etc. that comes with leaving.

Some people can learn to cope and minimize the negative aspects of church membership and stay in, some can't. (I couldn't.) Others do better leaving the church and figuring out how to have a different, more fulfilling life. There is also the possibility of really struggling with either option and may need some substantial help.

I don't know of research that definitively says Mormonism causes depression, in spite of the antidepressant usage in Utah. My judgment is that aspects of Mormonism *do* contribute to depression and I think I have good reasons for believing that. I wonder if the church has done research on that question. If so, they aren't sharing. I also think the effect of Mormonism is different when it is the majority cultural influence as compared to when it is in the minority.

Stray Mutt
I wasn't clinically depressed, but...
...I was spiraling down a drain of self-loathing. Once away from the church and its judgmentalism, I felt a whole lot better.

Re: Depression cured/toned down out of the church?
Thanks for all the input guys. I know there is no silver bullet, but medications, therapy, religion, have all failed to make things better for her.

hello-if you don't mind giving more did you start your program? What methods did you use to reprogram your thinking?

I agree with that.
My depression lifted when I moved away from Utah. I didn't leave the Church until about five years later. I know some ex-Mormons love it in Utah, but I found it terribly oppressive there even as a member of the Church.
There can be many contributors to depression
I'm no expert, but a few things I've seen seem to bring people down:

Negative thinking patterns, lack of self-worth, comparing oneself to others or to a perfect (unattainable) ideal, poor health, abuse, a feeling of helplessness or ineffectiveness, lack of social connection, family history of depression, difficult life events or losses.

If those things resulted from Mormon training and culture of perfectionism self-judgement, then leaving the church might help. But a person would have to actually adjust the way they think.

I think it's overly simple to assume that because someone isn't Mormon anymore, they'll get happy. Sometimes people can go through a deep depression on their way out. And some people are just prone to depression. Negative thinking patterns can be really stubborn. If that's the problem, a person would have to make a conscious effort to change.

CA girl
Re: Depression cured/toned down out of the church?
Well, I have two different thoughts on this. One answer is "Yes" because suddenly the world made a lot more sense. There was a lot less pressure, a lot less guilt and a lot more self-acceptance and love for others. My anxiety levels dropped a lot too, once I took the garments off. I'm not sure what the connection was there but there was a definite uptick in my peace of mind when those went into the trash.

But in another way I'm going to have to answer "No". Because I used Mormonism in a large measure, to self-medicate. There were a lot of issues from my childhood I never dealt with because of Mormonism and frankly, dealing with them has been a bitch. But it's been worth it because it's real improvement - not just the placebo stuff that Mormonism offers you. It's hard to really become a better person and it can be depressing and overwhelming at times but it's much better than putting a ton of pressure on yourself to appear to be a better person when deep inside, you know you are a fraud. That's depressing.

Humor helped me
I used to be consumed by guilt and self-blame. Not for any serious offenses, but for things like not having dinner ready, or having a messy house, or being disorganized.

My husband starting mocking my guilt: "Wow, you really ARE a horrible person. I don't know how you live with yourself. Our kids are going to be scarred for life because dinner was late, and we didn't eat vegetables" He'd just keep going until I finally cracked up or at least recognized that I was over-reacting, and he didn't think it was a big deal.

So maybe you could laugh at your own weaknesses.

Someone who is really good at humor is Martha Beck (exmormon lifecoach). She seems to REALLY cover personal hangups that Mormons suffer from. Examples: People pleasing, guilt, fear, indecisiveness, people who make you feel like crap, not able to say "no", etc. The articles she has written for the Oprah Magazine over the last 12 years have been like therapy for me. Many of them are still online.
Re: I wasn't clinically depressed, but...
This was me right here. The guilt for not going to church, for not getting my kids to primary so they could be baptized, for not measuring up to what some invisible entity wanted me to be. Once I realized that it wasn't true, the guilt and depression just went away. Never been happier.
Re: Humor helped me
Thanks, I am worried about the humor method. I don't know that it would be taken well. I think I tried that a few years back and I can't really remember the results. How long did your husband use that?

I have tried pointing out other views besides the dark hole of self hatred, but when she is there she can't even believe that I would care about her (in her words a worthless piece of @#$%&). I am tired of arguing with her and I even have begun to feel a little angry about it. So maybe the humor thing would work.

From three to none...
For most of my adult life I was not an active "go to church" every Sunday kind of guy. I didn't like attending church but I did more often than not. I was plagued with guilt more for all the things I felt I was NOT doing than the things I was doing, although I did have periods when I DID do things that added to my guilt like drinking alcohol and other non-moral types of things.

As the years progressed my guilt became depression and for the last 15 years before I left the morg I was taking THREE antidepressants at the same time. Yes, 3 different anti's just to stay sane.

When I finally left for good, and was able to let go in my mind and heart, it felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders. It was like this moment when I realized that none of that crap I had believed my whole life was even remotely true or close to what I had believed it to be, and from one moment to the next I felt like a different person.

I continued taking the pills for about a week and one day I realized that I didn't need them any longer. I stopped taking them and have never looked back. That was over 8 years ago and I have not needed assistance being happy or positive since that day.

Yeah, the morg is such a wonderful organization and it does such wonderful things for it's members.....

Re: Depression cured/toned down out of the church?
I am a nevermo but I know of a Mormon who committed suicide earlier this month and I wondered if his depression was caused by Mormonism.

Re: Depression cured/toned down out of the church?
Depression is relieved when one realizes that the obligations imposed on members of ChurchCo do not matter, have no effect on your "worthiness," and are basically just a control mechanism invented by men. It's like throwing off a 100 pound sack of rocks that's been strapped to your back. That certainly helped with my angst about not "measuring up." Now I get to choose my own goals.
Situational depression definitely removed when I left the morg...
...but not on its own. I was taking an anti-depressant while a TBM because my depression was from mental stress associated with beliefs of the church. I learned, through practice, how to deal with that depression from twice-a-week, then weekly, twice monthly, then monthly sessions with an excellent nevermo therapist. The depression doesn't just miraculously disappear, it needs to be dealt with properly.
Re: Depression cured/toned down out of the church?
In the last 10 months since I left I have struggled with my depression a lot, but that's because I was apathetic toward my life when I was Mormon, I was just accepting of it as a way of life. Then I became a Christian and it got worse becaus to feel alot of pressure to "heal" and get better and feel the spirit and have some miraculous encounter with god that fixes everything. That hasn't happened. So now I've decided I'm probably going to let go of religion all together, and since I've been thinking this way I am MUCH happier, because im free to explore who I really am and be that person, nothing more.
ambivalent exmo
Yes, we call it the 500 lb guilt backpack at our house. So glad its gone.

The humor method
I think using it depends on both of you feeling pretty secure in the relationship. It wouldn't work if she would take sarcasm as a veiled attack or a hint, instead of a joke.

In spite of the fact that we regularly joked about lots of things, there were still times when the humor bugged me. I thought there was some MERIT to feeling guilt and shame, and he was MOCKING it. I thought feeling horrible about my percieved shortcomings was something that might motivate me to change (it didn't), almost like part of a repentance or penance process.

In answer to your question, he did this for a couple of years (while he was secretly apostate). He STILL does it, if it seems appropriate. And he WAS trying to get me to stop being so judgemental of myself over stupid things, and question the value of guilt, which NOW I think IS very effective at subjugating women. [I'm not saying it's intentional, just that it WORKS]. If we didn't feel so crappy about ourselves, we probably would set more boundaries and say "no" to ridiculous requests.

Which brings me to another idea. Maybe you could encourage her to do something that would develop skills, talents, or foster independence--like even getting a job. Also, there might be something that touches her spiritually, like art, music, yoga, hiking. If she could do something that could bring her in contact with peace and beauty--outside of the church--that might help her.

I remember that time period as a very dark time in my life. And if it had given myself to immerse myself in music instead of beating myself up because I hadn't read my scriptures, I would have felt better.

Re: There can be many contributors to depression
+1 I agree. Most depressed people aren't or weren't Mormons. At least I'd be surprised to find that they were. Couple of books on depression:

Breaking the Patterns of Depression by Michael Yapko

Depression is Contagious by Michael Yapko.

I'm not always in love with his "tone" (he sometimes comes off as condescending) but his information is great.

Re: Depression cured/toned down out of the church?
I'll try. I think the main thing is, once free of Moism, I really wanted to find a better way to live, and a better quality of life. So I was self-motivated.

My first order of business after walking out was my health. I was depressed, anxious and angry. I was also very fat and weak. I changed my diet, no processed or refined foods, additives or chems, no red meat, occasional poultry, mostly lacto-ovo vegetarian, no sugar drinks or sodas, more fresh and raw foods. I took to exercise, walking and mountain biking every day for an hour or more. I soon lost 75 lbs, which I have kept off.

Since I had no one to share with, I found a therapist. She is perfect for me, she's a listener, that's her method. 12 years later, I still see her twice a month, we're good friends now. I self-examined more and more, and insights came.

I briefly tried a few pharma drugs, but they didn't work, so I quickly dropped all meds.

I found a site online about sun gazing for health, and started to practice in the evening walks. Something about those rays stimulated my brain, and increased self-examination. I came to realize that the only cure was within myself. I accepted responsibility for everything in my reality, as my creation. No one could heal me but me. I had made the mess, I had to clean it up. If I wanted a change, I had to make it and be it.

This insight greatly helped with anger and self-loathing.

To better self-examine, I graduated from sun gazing and took up sitting meditation, twice a day, at least an hour each session. Kundalini kriya yoga. BIG help. The relaxation of all systems melted stress out of me. I learned the roots of depression and anger within my own thoughts and mind, and learned how to embrace the change needed, and to practice effective new patterns! With real tools, I got real results.

I adopted an essentially Buddhist philosophy, advaita vedanta. The main idea is, desire is suffering. So I have reduced desire and craving (both attraction and repulsion), and become more empathic and compassionate. I learned how to LET GO! In my daily labor, I serve, without emphasis on personal gain. My self-identity is now much bigger than my old, ego-driven personality.

So then I just had to stick to my program (never give up, even on the bad days), gain and apply new insights as they came, and let love for self and others and all being rise to the top like cream on milk. Never give up, stick to the program!

Everyone will find their own program that works for them. If we are sincere, and the program works effectively, healing will come over time.

I'd I had anxiety and depression to varying degrees since I was a pre-teen.
Finally, I found a good therapist several years ago. I was a TBM for the entire two years that she and I worked together. I told her up front that my religion was non-negotiable and she respected that, but we still explored my behavior and thought patterns related to the church.

At the end of therapy, my symptoms had diminished but not disappeared, even though I had made major changes in my thought patterns, actions and environment. My therapist said, "You will experience another level of healing once you more closely examine the roots of your belief structure. Your relationship with your church is virtually the only sick relationship left in your life at this point. And it is very, very sick."

I stopped believing and attending church almost four months ago. After a few weeks away, my anxiety and depression were gone. No more panic attacks, insomnia, hours of catatonia...gone. In my case, the depression/anxiety were situational and had multiple causes; the church was only one cause, but it also was truly the only cause left, just as my therapist had stated.

Sure, I feel some grief and anger, but these have been productive emotions that have motivated me to take the necessary steps to go on with my life.

Re: I'd I had anxiety and depression to varying degrees since I was a pre-teen.
You have a good, smart therapist who has a good, smart client :-)

Re: Depression cured/toned down out of the church?
Thanks again everyone for the thoughts and insights. As you all know depression has a huge effect on the individual as well as the people around them. I don't think I have every fully blamed the morg for her depression, but it definitely adds fuel to the fire so to say.

Re: The humor method
Thanks. I think those seem like great ideas. I will work on trying to persuade her.

Re: Depression cured/toned down out of the church?
I wish I could say that was the case for me but it most definitely is not. I was depressed sometimes in the church but I always took comfort in feeling there was a greater plan and and things would all work out. When I was really hating my job I would say a prayer before going to work to ask for help to get through it. Now life just seems so brutal and awful and pointless to me most of the time.
Re: Depression cured/toned down out of the church?
hello-thanks for the reply. She is very open to holistic/alternative treatments. Do you have any suggestions for where to start learning about sun gazing? and I have to admit that it sounds a little painful...

Re: Depression cured/toned down out of the church? [another thing]
Loss of faith and sense of purpose *is* brutal. It helped me to distinguish between faith and belief. For me faith is a general stance toward the world--holding certain values, perhaps. Beliefs are explanations and rationales that change. Often when beliefs are shown to be wrong or inadequate our faith, which has been too intertwined with those beliefs, fails, too.

What is really important to you, what are your values, and where do you see those in yourself and the world?

Another thing: The church teaches us, although we may not realize it, that the world is a bad place without it, and that with the church, we will be all right. The church gives a kind of "Get Out of Sh*t Free" card. It gives explanations for trouble: Often we sinned or God is testing us. But the truth is we all have trouble and none of us is an exception and we all worry to a greater or lesser degree about whether we can handle the next thing--and there is always a next thing.

That's hard to face without the church at first when we have been used to the church giving us moral support (at a price, of course). But I think I can say with a fair amount of confidence that we can usually handle things, and we can find people who will help us with what we need help with, and we can get through it--maybe feel pretty good about it. What kind of support system do you have and if it is lacking, what are possibilities of creating or finding one?

Re: Depression cured/toned down out of the church?
I am sorry for your pain. I have not personally felt it, but my heart breaks with compassion for anyone who has to feel depression.

I have not let go of a master plan and can see how that helps...I am not as sure about it though as I once was but I still believe in a supreme being/creator. And one thing I like to think is that I too can be a creator of my life. I can choose who I am...I think that is what fits into robertb's comment...and if you ever need someone to talk to about it, I have become really good at just listening.

Re: Depression cured/toned down out of the church?
I do feel a bit better to find out that my doubts in the church had merit but much worse since I am now ostrosized by my family.

Re: Depression cured/toned down out of the church?
I don't know how you could feel good when you family treats you badly. It may be that the best you can do is to find others, ideally in real life as well as online, who will befriend, love, and support you. Sadness, hurt, disappointment, self-doubt, and anger are all normal responses to rejection by loved ones.

*The* one thing I would hope people do before they leave the church or come out to their families about how they feel is develop social support outside Mormonism first. Of course, often we don't do it that way. I did it only partially and wished I had done a more thorough job. We can do it afterward, although doing it ahead of time would save some wear-and-tear.

Re: Depression cured/toned down out of the church?
Yes I agree, sun gazing can be dangerous. The rays nowadays are often violent, with great storms and flares. I don't recommend trying to do it the traditional ways (altho it is easier and safer at high latitudes on a continental land mass with plentiful haze, than it is on a tropical island with clear skies. It is also safer when you can view the rising or setting sun close to the horizon, sea level is best, it's harder when the sunset is behind a mountain, and thus too high in the sky).

The best thing to do to awaken the frontal cortex with solar rays is to just briefly glance at the low-horizon sun, then close the eyes and view the central point in the visual field. After you have absorbed the light from this glance, and the colors calm down and cool, then you can repeat the process as much as you like. Take sips of the sun, rather than the long drinks of the steady gaze. Play with the light and see what happens. The sunset clouds can become especially interesting...

I also practice a solar yoga healing and protective tek, called Siddhanath's Surya Yoga (you can likely find it on youtube). It is a way to become intimate with, and nourished by, the sun's energies.

Re: Depression cured/toned down out of the church?
The word "depression" is used to describe many things: a bad mood, negative thoughts, sorrow over a loss, anger turned inward, low self-esteem, subjugation, lack of motivation, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, PTSD, etc. As for me, I had ALL those things. I do feel that the sexist teachings of Mormonism make women especially depressed.

Each of us is an individual, and I can only tell you what worked for me, and others close to me.

We had a "challenge" that we would throw out to Mormons who were trying to decide whether to leave the church, or endure to the end. The challenge is to take 6 weeks off! Find substitutes for your callings, and lie, if you must, and say you are going to be traveling, that your sick relative needs you on Sunday--the Mormons lie to you, so you can lie to them. During your 6 week hiatus, see if your mood shifts. Trial and error can be an exact science! I got sick, and didn't go to church for 3 months--what an eye-opener! Even though I was extremely ill, I was not depressed! I got better very fast, and I think my happiness helped heal me. My support system was my children, a few old friends, and my doctors. We all have 911, the Fire Department, the ER hospitals, etc.

Many posters mention that they feel that a weight was lifted off their shoulders. This is how I felt--liberated! I went on nature hikes in my forest on Sunday mornings, and I found my spirituality there. I have found my own answers, but the biggest answer of all is that we don't need to know everything. I am content with ambiguity, as far as the "unknowns" of religion. Death doesn't scare me as much, anymore, because there isn't that daunting list of impossible things to do before we die. Thinking about death and being alone in eternity, and all that mumbo-jumbo depressed the heck out of me!

Sometimes, I felt lonely (I didn't see friends when I was sick), but most of the time, I felt a companionship in my self. I didn't miss the Mormons who used to call me, because they were always asking me to do something I didn't want to do, and to give more than I had to give. The Mormons were calling me away from my home, my children, my job--everything I loved--everything that made me happy. The hours spent in that church brought me so low, that it took days to recover.

To be honest, I was probably not clinically depressed, because I never went on medication, and I was seeing a psychiatrist once a month for PTSD, so maybe I had it easy. I have the NORMAL ups and downs of life to face, but being challenged is different than being depressed. With depression, there is no hope. With Mormonism, there is no hope (unless you are perfect).

I live in Utah, and the aggressive Mormon society bothered me terribly, so I decided to avoid everything Mormon. Reverse shunning. This is extreme, but I could do it, because I didn't have a Mormon spouse or Mormon children, or Mormon clients, or Mormon work colleagues. Also, my Utah family is so dysfunctional and abusive, that I needed to extricate myself from them--Mormon or not.

At first, it is hard work to change your thinking, and your whole philosophy of life, but, as you go along, you feel more and more natural, in tune with your true self. Eventually, you learn to love yourself. Love is what it's all about.

"Recovery from Mormonism -"