Depression – Overcoming
OVERCOMING DEPRESSION USING FOUR AREAS OF HUMAN FUNCTIONING
Spiritual – God’s greatest desire is for us to be with Him.
- The spiritual area ties all of the other areas together.
- God has compassion for people who are hurting (Psalm 34:18-19; Romans 8:26; Psalm 103).
- Read Scripture and pray daily to keep yourself connected to God’s promises and His plan for you (Jeremiah 29:11; 1 Corinthians 14:33; 2 Corinthians 4:8-9). Don’t worry if you can’t pray or read for very long. Simply do what you can.
- Use comforting Scriptures to counteract negative thinking (Psalms 119:11, 105).
- Talk with your elder, ministers, and spiritual mentors to get encouragement and support.
- Use music and note cards with Scripture verses on them for reminders of God’s promises (Joshua 1:8; Isaiah 40:31).
- When depressed, read Scriptures that are comforting (Psalm 103, etc.), and don’t try to figure out difficult books or passages like Revelation or Lamentations.
Biological – Our bodies; God’s temple (1 Corinthians 3:16).
- Get a thorough physical examination from your physician. Talk to him about your symptoms, and ask about the effects of medical illnesses and side effects of any medications you are taking.
- Reduce stress as much as possible.
- Regulate your sleeping. Go to sleep and get up at regular times and limit napping, especially in the late afternoon and evening.
- Regulate your eating. Eat regular nutritious meals; avoid over/under eating.
- Exercise. Walking appears to be a natural antidepressant; start slow and build up. Relaxation is also important.
- You may need to try antidepressant medication. Medication is necessary for Bipolar Depression. It is also important when suicidal thoughts are present or if the depression is interfering with your ability to go to work, school or take care of your children.
Emotional/Cognitive – “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:” (Proverbs 23:7).
- Work to change perfectionistic and negative thinking (Romans 12:1-2).
- Repeat reassuring Bible verses to yourself to fight negative thinking (Phil 4:13).
- Journal (write out) thoughts and feelings; acknowledge your feelings.
- Share your feelings with others, and pour your heart out to God (e.g. Psalm 13).
- Read Philippians 4:8 for a checklist of healthy things to think about.
- Set small and reasonable goals for yourself to meet each day.
- Be compassionate to yourself like you would be compassionate to a struggling friend.
Relational – “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).
- One of Satan’s greatest tools is isolation. Fight the desire to isolate yourself from others.
- Try to have regular contact with an accountability partner.
- Try to attend some of the social functions you would usually go to, even if you need to leave earlier than you normally would.
- Mothers with young children and the elderly are especially vulnerable to isolation.
- While this can be true of anyone, men tend to have more difficulty sharing their feelings and then get depressed because things build up over time.
HELPING SOMEONE WHO IS DEPRESSED
Be informed; know the symptoms of depression and stay in contact with the person. Privately ask the individual if there is any way that you can help him. Support and encourage the person. You don’t have to feel like it is your job to make the other person’s depression go away. Support the person’s treatment; offer to transport or go with the person to counseling. Realize that depression makes decision-making more difficult. Offering a lot of advice, especially when it is opposing to the recommendations they have received from their physician and/or counselor, causes confusion and distress. Do your best to avoid giving clichés for answers (Proverbs 25:20). Simplistic answers can make a depressed person feel worse. Let the person know you are praying for him. Satan tries unrelentingly to undermine the faith of those who are depressed. Fervently ask God to comfort, protect, encourage, strengthen and bring healing to the person. If the person is having suicidal thoughts, seek professional help immediately. Remember Job’s friends and learn from their mistakes. Don’t automatically assume the person is just trying to get attention or is hiding sin in his life. Don’t try to handle the situation on your own. Instead, see yourself as one part of the body of Christ that can minister to the person (Proverbs 11:14). A careful balance of support along with gentle nudges to take steps of progress is the best way to assist the struggling person (Proverbs 12:25; 16:24; 25:11).
WHAT THE CHURCH CAN DO TO HELP THOSE WHO STRUGGLE
Accept that everyone struggles at one time or another . . . even good Christians. Work to make the church a caring place so that people feel that they can share their struggles. Try to have a family atmosphere. Deal with issues proactively as they come up in life (James 5:16). Deepen relationships with others so that when (not if) we are struggling, others are close enough to notice and have permission to speak up (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10). Be aware of changes in friends and family members. Confront and stop gossip (Proverbs 11:13; 18:8; 20:19; 26:20). Remember that Jesus is more interested in a humble awareness of our need for His help than in self-sufficient independence and good looks (Luke 18:9-14). Remember that Christ died for our imperfections and that His grace is what makes us whole (Titus 3:5-8). Perfectionism is sometimes an attempt to gain the unattainable goal of never being wrong or never needing help from others. Unfortunately, perfectionism is a trap that leads to feelings of failure and beliefs that one does not measure up or deserve compassion. Remember that each of us needs time to step back, relax and regain perspective. Many times depression subtly overcomes people because they forget to take care of basic things in their lives. “You can’t fill another person’s cup when yours is empty.” At times individuals (often men) become depressed because they feel inferior in comparison to others that are more “successful” (2 Corinthians 10:12). Look up “success” in Joshua 1:8. Life transitions are often times when people become depressed. Young men and women who are having difficulty deciding on a career, college, marriage, etc. may experience depression. We shouldn’t assume that we know how to “fix” another person’s problem. Often, unless we are very familiar with the person, we may not know all of the issues they are facing (Jude 1:22-23). Those who have gone through depression or other difficult times have an opportunity to reach out to others who are struggling (2 Corinthians 1:3-7).
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For Further Information:
Helping a Depressed Person This site discusses how to reach out and help a family member or friend who is depressed. [Helpguide.org]