Sunday Morning Coffee: Depression

It is of particular concern to me when I meet a teen boy or girl who is struggling with depression.  It just makes me so sad to know the battle that is being waged, and how unexpected it is for a lot of kids and their families.

Because I work in a Christian counseling office,  I usually ask  sometime early in our work together about my clients’ spiritual relationship with God. One of the things that confuses them is that they have often been taught that a good Christian doesn’t experience depression. Feelings of strong guilt grow along with the depression, and it’s one of the first things we need to discuss.

It is so damaging, no matter a person’s age, to be told that he just needs to get right with God, just needs to trust the promises of God. The implication, then, is that he is NOT right with God, that he has NOT been trusting God. The feelings of despair will continue to grow if this negative pattern of thinking is not confronted with the truth of God’s Word.

 

why-are-you-in-despair-2

It is true that there is always a spiritual piece in depression. David, whose Psalms often reflect the struggle he had with depression, made it clear that he knew when he had sinned against God, and he wept and repented, and sought for restoration.  I am not overlooking the possibility of sin lurking in a person’s heart, but I also know, from walking with my own husband through a terrible depression,  that he did search his heart, begging God to show him if there was some hidden sin.

The truth for a lot of people who experience depression is that they are worn out, body and soul. Exhausted.  Often, their personality type is that of the melancholy, who is an analytical, detail-oriented perfectionist who easily falls into feeling of guilt and even shame when things don’t go perfectly. These thoughts and emotions can lead to insomnia, or to a need to sleep ALL the time.   Slowly, the person’s supply of the “feel-good chemicals” created in the brain and the gut become depleted, and a serious depression follows.

Treatment, to be the most effective, needs to address body, soul, and spirit.  Proper diet, hygiene, exercise, maybe medication, and good talk therapy to help replace the negative thinking patters with  positive, biblically-based thinking all work together to bring the person back to normal.  Done well, therapy gives him tools to recognize  negativity and take steps to turn it around.

It is so important to encourage, not to scold. To focus on positives, not to preach. To use prayer as a positive force, not an opportunity to lecture.

Starting with my husband’s experience, and all during the 17 years since I started working in this field, I’ve seen dozens and dozens of depressed believers who feel they’re the most sinful people on earth. I’m so thankful to have a different understanding of the whole subject now, and to be able to offer help and hope.

I love my job.

 

 

19 thoughts on “Sunday Morning Coffee: Depression

  1. I felt so very trapped for the several months that followed ovarian cancer and as a result surgical menopause. It seemed no one understood the dark clouds that hung over me and I had to “stuff it” and just keep going. The hormones I needed were not there or were zooming every place except where I needed them. I clung to the book of Job and Psalms. It actually is the Word of God that sustained me. An understanding spouse would have really helped. Instead, he condemned. The “get right with God” thing only pushed me further into the darkness. All I say of that time now is that I am a very good actress! I cried buckets of tears when alone but God gave me a happy face when I needed to do that for others. I’m so glad, Linda, that you are able to help others and that there are those who can seek help instead of burying it.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks. I am a perfect picture to go next to your description of a over detailed perfectionist who is nice and helpful yet living in constant depression trying to be the best in a no winner situation. 52 years. You would think I would have stopped by now. No, now I am always exhausted yet don’t sleep well and yet when off work on the weekends I cannot do ANYTHING but want to try to sleep. My house is a wreck and the only thing I manage to accomplish weekly is laundry. HEY, I DID JUST FINISH CLEANING THE SHOWER PERFECTLY.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Kelvin. Depression has practically become an epidemic here in America, and it’s no wonder when you consider the ridiculous pace at which most of us live, among many other factors. Depression/anxiety walk together, and they are what bring me most of my clients.

      Liked by 1 person

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