Sunday, August 03, 2008
Dealing with Depression from a Christian View
Today I heard of yet another person struggling with depression. I've written poems about depression (to see them, search this blog for depression). Today I'd like to share some of the things I've found help with depression. If you're depressed, I'd urge you to do some of the things on this list.
1. If you're not a whole-hearted Christian, trust Jesus Christ. Be full of the Spirit. The Bible says "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." (Galatians 5:22-23)
2. Exercise a lot. Half a century ago my mother used to say, "I don't understand why people kill themselves. If they'd just decide to run around the block until they dropped dead, they'd feel better before they dropped dead." Scientists now tell us that strenuous exercise releases endorphins, which work to make you feel better.
3. Use the gifts God's given you. As you see him working through you, you'll rejoice at what he does.
4. Use anti-depressants (either St. John's Wort or prescription medicine) if you need them. For some people, they are like turning on a light. Yes, they can have side-effects, but the medicine may enable you to start doing enough other things right so that you won't always need a lot of medicine.
5. Keep a thankfulness journal. Each day, write the date and three things you're thankful for. Sample:
03 August, 2008
Thank you, God, for interesting clouds today.
Thank you, God, for saving us by faith, not our works.
Thank you, God, for a good bed.
6. Repent of every known sin, but don't spend time worrying about unknown sin. Trust the Lord to deal with it. (See 1 John 1:9.)
7. Get adequate rest--not too much, not too little.
8. Balance emotional stimulation and quietness. If crowds excite you, realize that after being with them, you may need some quieter, "down" time. You may feel a bit sad during that time. You may find that if you prolong exciting times longer than you should, your recovery time is longer. That's OK, if you understand it.
9. Give yourself permission to have moods, but not to be self-pitying nor moody.
10. Stay connected to friends, family and church. Don't isolate yourself. If you're hurting deeply, tell someone.
11. Each day, do your best to do what needs to be done, whether or not you feel like it.
12. Enjoy Sabbaths and vacations without guilt.
13. Intentionally praise the Lord. Try singing with a Christian recording. Try moving your body as you do so.
14. Persistently tell yourself the truth. Tell yourself the truth about God and his promises, about your own strengths and your own weaknesses.
15. Avoid making long-term decisions while depressed.
16. Thank God that your depression can make you more able to help others, as you experience the Lord's comfort and faithfulness. See I Thessalonians 1;3.
17. Never ever for a moment allow yourself to think your depression can be solved by violence against yourself or against others.
18. Learn to enjoy simple things: a sunset, a child's smile, a frog, a pencil.
19. Don't let others make you feel guilty for not being perennially upbeat.
20. Trust the Lord. Entrust your emotions to him.
My friend, I urge you not to linger helplessly in your depression. Use everything the Lord gives you. Serve the Lord. Serve others. Use the wisdom he gives. Find your way out, into the joy of his presence.