“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures,
speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” C. S. Lewis
by Peggy Burns, M.S., LMFT – CCC San Francisco, Center Director
Depression is very real for many Christians. It can cause you to feel isolated, alone, and hopeless. In our world today depression is increasing as we are bombarded with negative news. Many have demanding work environments which do not promote a healthy life-work balance. Our homes are not a places of sanctuary, but instead are filled with a frenzy of to-do’s lists, strife, and battles with spouses and children. All of these factors can contribute to fatigue and depression.
Depression is treatable and does not have to rule or ruin your life. It is critical all of us know how to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression in ourselves and others, and to know when to reach out for help. There is always hope. A Christian counselor can help you craft a plan to support a healthy mind and healthy living.
THE 9 SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION
- Feelings of sadness or emptiness, throughout the day. A depressed mood. You feel like crying more often than usual.
- Diminished interest in activities, hobbies, or the work that you once enjoyed.
- Changes in eating patterns: loss of appetite or overeating.
- Trouble getting to sleep, insomnia, or restless sleep that leaves you tired in the morning. Having trouble getting out of bed in the morning and/or wanting to sleep all day.
- Less energy than usual. Increased physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach ailments, or rapid heart beat.
- Not functioning at usual levels, restlessness, pacing, slowed speech. Changes which others begin to notice.
- Feelings of worthlessness, or excessive or inappropriate guilt. Worrying about the past and what the future may hold.
- A diminished ability to think or concentrate. Feelings of nearly constant indecisiveness. Dreading the beginning of a new day or of having to face life’s decisions and responsibilities.
- Having thoughts that life is not worth living. Recurrent suicidal ideas whether with or without specific plans for carrying it out.
5 WAYS TO OVERCOME DEPRESSION
- Counseling: Counselors can help you find an objective perspective. Find a therapist who is trained in dealing with depression. A good counselor can help you create your unique plan for battling depression.
- Safe People: It is vital to have a support system. Belonging to a small group in your church is a great way to connect and find safe people who know you and accept you.
- Take Care of Your Body: Engage in activities that you enjoy; walking, being out in nature, listening to music. Research has shown that your mood will improve when you exercise.
- Turn Your Worries Into Prayer: When a depressed or anxious thought enters your mind decide to pray about it instead of worry. “Do not be anxious about anything.” Philippians 4:6. A skilled counselor can help you take an inventory of your thinking and see if your looking through a lens of negativity or optimism.
- Rest and Read Scripture: Getting at least 5-6 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night is known to improve your mood. Slow down and connect with God. Reading Scripture will help to minister to your situation.
Do not expect too much from yourself too soon. This can only accentuate a sense of failure. Begin to make small changes and set realistic goals. Some people will benefit from being evaluated by a psychiatrist who can let you know if you are a candidate for medication. Often, clinical depression can be caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. It’s not “just in your mind.” There are new advances with anti-depressants and SSRI’s that can help you feel like yourself again.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Jeremiah 29:11
Book Recommendation: Changes That Heal by Dr. Henry Cloud
Disclaimer: This article is intended as an educational resource only, and is not intended to be a replacement for treatment. For evaluation and treatment, please contact a qualified mental health professional.