Some Thoughts on Depression
Some in this group seriously struggle with depression. On occasion I have addressed this subject. I wanted to take a couple of days to address it from two angles. First some random thoughts about depression that others of us need to understand. Secondly, so suggestions of how we can minister to those facing depression. I am not an expert but I think I understand a thing or two about this subject from my experiences dealing with others. I welcome your comments in this subject.
Depression is real. There is a danger for those of us who have never experienced deep dark depression to dismiss its reality, but that would be a mistake. Depression is real and in fact some great Christians in history have battled depression for portions of their lives and some for their entire lives. William Cowper, who wrote, There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood and dozens of other hymns and poems battled with deep dark depression throughout his entire life which at times led to suicidal thoughts.
People do not choose to be depressed. Depression is not a ploy for pity, but rather a horrible dungeon of despair. It is a mistake to assume that anyone would fake depression in order to gain some type of attention. No doubt there are those who do so with discouragement, but not depression.
There is not always a simple solution for depression. If you have never faced it you cannot possibly understand that a person cannot merely “snap out of it” and be cured. Encouraging words may be a salve the surface, but do little to cure the core cause. It is a foolish thing to become impatient or angry with one dealing with depression.
Depression is not always circumstantial. This is the mistaken assumption many make. A person may be depressed because of circumstances, but many people suffer from a depression not caused by a specific circumstance. If you ask them why, they cannot answer, because they do not know why. It falls on them like a black storm cloud appears of the horizon on a sunny day. When asked for a reason for one’s depression they often cannot provide any logical answer.
People facing depression need your presence and understanding not you scolding or advice. Words usually do not cure depression as much as loving kindness. Depression is not the same thing as discouragement. Discouragement has a cause that can often be identified. Depression often does not. Trying to throw words at a depressed friend is like throwing drugs at an illness. If you are not careful scolding words can do more harm than good. Better to comfort with words than to try and cure with them.
Depression is not necessarily a sign of unconfessed sin. In fact often it is the exact opposite. Satan will remind people of past sins that have long been forgiven and lead a person to despair. People prone to depression are also often one to self reflection.
These are merely a few observations that I hope help us all understand this horrible condition. Tomorrow I will share some thoughts on what you can do for a depressed person. (DH)
How To Minister to a Depressed Individual
So, you know someone who is in the grips of depression and you are wondering what you can or should do. Here are a few suggestions.
Do not shame or guilt them. This is the worse thing you can do. Often that will drive them deeper into their depression. Shame and guilt are not the methods God uses to life us when we are in despair. In fact they are the method we use when we are frustrated at the one who is struggling.
Be patient and let it run its course. Most depression is like a virus. It comes, runs its course, and goes. Often the person just need TLC and rest.
Listen! Listen! Listen! Let them talk without trying to even reply. Just let them release the pain they are bottling up inside. Listen to hear them not always to reply to them. When they talk, show genuine interest in what they are saying.
Use encouraging words. Say things like, I’m here for you, I care about you and want to help, You are important to me. Your life is important to others, Tell me if there is anything I can do to help you, or This will eventually pass.
Don’t tell them why you think they are depressed and don’t preach to them. You don’t know why and they will recoil at your opinions and homemade diagnosis.
Stay positive and upbeat. Don’t let their depression get you down. Do not be ridiculous in your positiveness, but be upbeat in a sober manner. Don’t be silly, but be joyful.
Make certain they are not alone. Many times they want to be alone, but it is not the best thing, especially if they indicate any thoughts of suicide or hurting themselves. Be willing to stay with them if they need you to. A true friend is a great medicine for depression.
Offer to do something with them. Getting them out of the house and active will often be a good aid for bringing them back from their depression. Seclusion and reclusion are often what a person in this condition seeks, but it can be dangerous to them and prolong their condition.
Get them involved in acts of service. Often the feeling of depression is accompanied by feelings of worthlessness. Getting them involved in helping others is a great way to make them feel important.
Pray for and with them, but especially for them. Never underestimate the power of prayer in the healing of depression.
By no means is this list complete, but I think it can serve as a good guideline of how we can help our depressed brothers and sisters in Christ. Next time I will discuss what you should do when depression strikes you. (DH)
I am Depressed What Should I Do?
There are those who struggle with depression occasionally and others who deal with it on a semi-constant manner. While I do not have a great deal of expertise on the subject I truly believe there are some things a person can do to deal with their depression. Most depression lasts for a period of time and must run its course. The mistake some people make is to think that there is an instant cure for depression. Like the flu, most depression is going to have to run its course but during that time there are things that one can do.
Don’t overthink. Sometimes this is an actual cause of depression. Becoming introspective can be hurtful and prolong the depression. Dwell on thoughts you know to fit the description of how we should think as taught in Philippians 4:8.
whatsoever things are true,
whatsoever things are honest,
whatsoever things are just,
whatsoever things are pure,
whatsoever things are lovely,
whatsoever things are of good report;
if there be any virtue,
if there be any praise,
think on these things.
Make certain your thoughts follow this pattern.
Be constructive rather than destructive. This is a very important point. Some of the greatest hymns have been written by those who were suffering from depression. Look for ways to channel your depression into something productive. Write poetry, journal your thoughts, do anything that brings out the constructive part of you. You may be amazed at how God uses you in your lowest moments. That said…
Believe that there is a reason God has allowed you to be in this condition. There are those who think the Apostle Paul’s thorn in the flesh was depression. Whatever it was it was something that afflicted him and it was in his weakest moments that he became strongest. God can use your depression. Did you get that? I will repeat it. GOD CAN USE YOUR DEPRESSION.
Guard your relationships. Do you overreact to people during these times and permanently damage a friendship or deeply hurt a loved one. It is easy to last out at others and expect them to understand what you are going through They probably can’t so be patient with them.
Do not beat yourself up. There is nothing wrong with you. You are not a bad person for this condition. Do not accept shame or guilt for being depressed. You are not lesser of a Christian because you face this condition.
Journal. I personally have found that during my greatest times of grief journaling helps me to cope and then to learn from the experience. The same is true with depression. Journal what you are experiencing and then when the cloud has lifted go back and study what lessons you can learn from the time.
Cry aloud to God. I believe David fought depression. The Psalms show a man with extreme emotional swings and that is often a sign of someone who battles with depression. Do what David did and cry unto the Lord and tell him everything you are thinking and feeling. What a merciful God we have and he cares about these struggles.
Wait it out with patience. You know this is true. It will run its course because it always has before. Sometimes in the midst of depression however it feels like it will never go away. People who suffer with extreme depression are like those who suffer with auto-immune diseases. The pain comes for a season and then they experience a time of remission. Enjoy that time, but when you are in the midst of depression, remain aware that relief is ahead.
Please forgive my simple remedies but these are things I know work for depressed people I have known and studied. Implement them into your regiment when you feel a bout of depression coming on and see if they might offer you not only some relief but also some purpose in the midst of your suffering. (DH)
DAVID and DEPRESSION – A thought for my friends who fight this battle
When we think of the words David and __________ many options come to mind but one is probably not David and depression. However, I cannot read the Psalms without questioning as to whether David dealt with some depression issues. Perhaps it was minor and caused by circumstances or perhaps it was a deeper chronic depression. Whatever the case, the Psalms are replete with David pleading in a deep dark state for God’s mercy, protection and deliverance. Psalm 13 is one such an example. Notice how he begins. In the first two verses he reveals the desperation in his heart, indicated that he was dealing with a daily sorrow.
“How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?”
In the next two verses David cries to God for deliverance from his agony which had affected his sleep. He indicates that his own sorrow may be the cause of his demise rather than the enemy himself. This happens to many people. The enemy claims an indirect victory that was won because of a defeated spirit. David was so defeated that even the enemy was not his greatest struggle. It was his spirit.
“Consider and hear me, O Lord my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved.”
David concludes in the last two verses by committing himself to three things. It is these three things that I encourage all of us to take note of and apply to our lives in our times of depression whether they be occasional or as David said daily.
Trust in God’s mercy. “But I have trusted in thy mercy.” Never forget that we have a God who loves to show mercy when we helplessly cry out to him.
Rejoice in your salvation. “My heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.” David often used the words thy salvation which I believe is special. He could’ve said my salvation but he knew that it was more secure if it belonged to God than today. In other words this is your problem not mine so I rest in your salvation not my own.
Sing to the Lord. “I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.” David loved to sing and music was a means for David to overcome his depression. I also believe it is a means we all should use to overcome our bouts with depression. What should we sing? We should sing songs to the Lord. How Great Thou Art, Great Is Thy Faithfulness, All Hail the Power of Jesus Name, To God Be the Glory and others are perfect for moments like this. As we sing them to God we are affirming that our faith is in him and not ourselves.
Are you fighting depression in your life. You are not alone by any means. Perhaps you could try some of these things David used to win the victory in your life. (DH)
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