I received an email through my internet devotional site from a woman battling depression. Her question was, as a pastor, what would I tell someone who has been diagnosed with depression.
The great thing about responding to her is that I can speak not only from “clinical” or seminary training, but from personal experience. I’ve battled mild depression firsthand.
If you wonder if you are experiencing depression, whether mild or severe, I encourage you to talk with your physician. Depression is nothing to play with and should be taken seriously.
Some symptoms of depression are:
Experiencing a continuously sad, nervous, or irritable mood.
Feeling as if life is hopeless.
Losing interest in things you once enjoyed.
Loss of weight or other repeating health problems.
Having the “blahs” all the time; generally feeling fatigued
(If you start to have thoughts of suicide, hurting yourself or repeating emotional breakdowns, please seek help immediately! )
I would never attempt to solve depression for you here, but there are some things I can offer you for those times where you struggle with mild depression.
Follow these steps:
1. Read God’s Word. Depression is most often caused by believing things that are not true. We fear the unknown, we feel bad about our life or our situation, and we live out of partial truth or untruth. The best way to battle untruth is with truth.
2. Pray. God loves you and wants more than just a distant experience with you. He wants a relationship with you that is deep and personal. When you are at your weakest point, God is there to help you. Talking with Him intimately is better than most trained therapists can offer.
3. Surround yourself with positive people who trust God. A lot of times when we are depressed we hang out with people who make us feel worse rather than better. Look for friends who will encourage you.
4. Take medicine if needed. Find a good doctor you trust and if they recommend medicine, don’t be afraid to follow their advice. There can be chemical imbalances in our body which can cause our emotions to act up and just as an aspirin helps when you have a headache sometimes with depression we need medication to heal our minds and emotions.
5. Counseling. Find a good, God-fearing counselor who is trained to talk through life with you. We all need this help at times. Don’t be ashamed to ask for it…. (Or too tight to pay for it!)
6. Ultimately the greatest thing you can do for yourself to battle depression is to give up control of your life and your emotions and begin to trust God completely. Understanding this truth will set you free. (John 8:32)
Again, I urge you to seek help if you are severely depressed. I truly believe, however, that your greatest help will always be found in the truth of God’s Word and in your relationship with Him.