The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. – Deuteronomy 31:8
Among the psychological struggles plaguing people in the US, depression is one of the more common ones. The ADAA.org states that “MDD [Major Depressive Disorder] affects more than 16.1 million American adults, or about 6.7% of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year.”
And even for adolescents, depression is an issue. “In 2015, an estimated 3 million adolescents age 12 to 17 in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in the previous year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.” (ADAA.org)
These statistics are not surprising, however, given that life is so unpredictable. Negative experiences like the death of a loved one, separation, illnesses and accidents, failure at work or school and other forms of emotional or physical harm can readily cause severe depression.
Fortunately, it can be overcome.
The Various Ways to Get Help for Depression
Because depression is a common issue, much research has been done to discover ways to battle depression. Here are some things to do to receive help for depression.
1. Talk to somebody
One important step is to open up to someone about the problems causing the depression. The more a person stays isolated, the more hopeless the situation becomes. Speaking to a trusted family member, friend, or colleague can do wonders to lift the emotional burdens. Just the feeling of being cared for through their concern can make a sufferer feel that they are not alone.
Professional counseling is another way as some loved ones are unsure of what to say, especially if the issue is very complicated or life-threatening. Professional counselors can better probe the issue to get to the true root of the problem. If needed, counselors may also prescribe medicines to combat the problem.
2. Get diagnosed
There are different forms of depression such as major depressive disorder, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), postpartum depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, persistent depressive disorder, and even depression due to medical conditions. Each one has its own characteristics.
Since depression recovery requires the willing cooperation of the sufferer, it helps that the sufferer feels that they are in good hands. This is more quickly done if the type of depression is known so that the counselor knows how to objectively explain what the sufferer is going through.
3. Join a support group
For many people undergoing struggles – emotional or physical, it helps to know that you are not alone. In a support group, experiences are shared, and emotions are unburdened.
4. Contact a crisis worker
In case depression leads to suicidal thoughts, it is imperative that the sufferer speaks to somebody about this. Sadly, many are not able to as they feel ashamed to reach out to a loved one or there may be no loved ones around to speak to. Fortunately, there are hotlines specifically for this need.
- One may call the suicide prevention lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit their website https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org
- One may also text 741741 and be connected immediately to a crisis worker for no charge.
5. Learn more about depression
A sufferer of depression can proactively choose to deal with their situation by learning more about what they are going through. There are many available resources (e.g. blogs, articles, videos and books) that deal with this, many of which written by people who dealt with depression themselves.
Here are some helpful options:
While there are several good books out there discussing depression, two very good Christian books on surmounting depression are:
- When the Darkness Will Not Lift by John Piper
- Spurgeon’s Sorrows: Realistic Hope for Those Who Suffer from Depression by Zack Eswine
Take Care of Yourself
As with any mental issue, help from others is important in order to address what is causing the suffering. But there are also things that a sufferer must do for themselves to take care of their physical, mental and spiritual health. Failure to do so will make the depression will feel even more insurmountable.
1. Exercise and diet
Just like in other sicknesses, mental issues or injuries, if the physical body is not well, then overcoming the problem becomes more difficult. A weak body can affect the mind and soul. While a depressed person may not “feel” like taking care of themselves, it is important that this is still done. For example, a quick jog around the neighborhood or a trip to the gym can give the sufferer a healthy change of scenery to uplift their mood.
Additionally, a proper diet is necessary to prevent sickness and ensure that one’s mood does not become even more morose, adding to the depression.
In recent years, yoga has become quite popular in Western culture as a way to keep the body and mind strong.
The physical discipline required to do it, as well as the emphasis on deep breathing and mindfulness of one’s body and thoughts, do wonders for obtaining self-control and peace of mind. Research has even shown that yoga can positively combat anxiety.
3. Keep a journal
Similar to the methods of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), journal writing allows a person to focus on their mental process and how that may be affecting them. When thoughts are written down, a sufferer may look at them objectively to unlock the negative thoughts behind their mental issues. Journal writing may also work as an “eraser” or “editing marker”, allowing a person to remove negative ideas or perhaps view them in a different light.
But even if journaling does not allow them to see the roots of their negativity, at least it may serve as an outlet for emotional release.
3. Listen to healing music
Music can be a means to heal if the melody and message are right. The following are some Christian artists whose songs can help heal.
- Sleeping at Last
Try the songs “Saturn”, “Emphasis”, and “You are Enough.”
The song “Tendons” is about the act of grace committed on the cross.
- Josh Garrels
The songs “Beyond the Blue,” “Farther Along,” and “Born Again” are very helpful.
Many of their light-hearted tunes contain much depth for the soul.
4. Read the Bible and Pray
I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD. – Psalm 40:1-3
All over Scripture, it is clearly seen that there is an on-going spiritual battle for our souls. Prayer and Bible reading are direct ways to fight the darkness’ powers that threaten to turn us away from God.
When depressed, a sufferer may feel that their spirit is at an all-time low, making it easier to succumb to negative thoughts about self-harm (e.g. suicide, alcohol or drug abuse) or breaking relationships (e.g. divorce, running away, isolation). This is why it is very important for the sufferer to reconnect with God.
Another helpful spiritual activity is to have someone pray for you or pray with you. As earlier stated, opening up to others is already a helpful step when battling depression.
It helps to know that somebody cares about your situation. But corporate prayer is also a powerful method in dire circumstances as there are two or more of you seeking God’s wisdom and help through Christ.
As stated in Matthew 18:19-20, “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by my Father who is in heaven. For where there are two or three gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”
Our Savior knows what is like to be human and what it means to struggle. If there is anyone that can help, it is He.
Depression is a serious issue indeed. It saps a person’s emotional, physical and spiritual energy, causing them to look at life from darkly tinted lenses.
If you or someone you know is suffering from it, it is best to get help soon. The abovementioned methods should be reviewed and applied. However, if professional counseling seems to be the best path, then you should get into contact with a professional Christian counselor who can listen to your concerns while applying Scripture to heal both mind and soul.
“Tearful”, Courtesy of Kat J, Unsplash.com; CC0 License; “Group Effort”, Courtesy of Rawpixel.com, Unsplash.com; CC0 License; “Yoga”, Courtesy of Matthew Kane, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “His Word,” Courtesy of jclk8888, Pixabay.com, CC0 License