HOW CAN I COPE WITH DEPRESSION?
Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2007
‘If there is a hell on earth it is to be found in a melancholy man’s heart.’ Robert Burton: An Anatomy of Melancholy
1. Recognize that depression has many underlying causes including:
- Chemical/organic causes causing mental malfunction
For some of these causes you will need help from medical or counselling professionals.
2. Recognize that depression has many immediate causes:
- Real personal guilt
- Guilt feelings [see study on How do deal with guilt]
- Unrealistic perceptions (of self, others, circumstances, church, or God)
- Unrealistic expectations (of self, others, circumstances, church, or God)
- Sinful reactions (to self, others, circumstances, church, or God)
For these causes you need help from your pastor or from a Christian counsellor.
3. Recognize that depression has many faces:
- Some depression can be fixed by a good talk to a friend.
- Some depression can be fixed by a good work-out.
- Some depression can be fixed by improved nutrition.
- Some depression can be fixed by medical drugs or therapy.
- Some depression can be fixed by repentance and confession
- Some depression can be fixed by spiritual counseling.
Do not let your depression deepen. Do whatever needs to be done to address it.
4. Recognize inappropriate ways of coping with depression:
I am coping with depression inappropriately when I do any of the following:
- I deny that I am depressed.
- I refuse to pursue or accept appropriate help.
- I camouflage my depression by bizarre behavior.
- I camouflage my depression by over-elation.
- I blame everyone and everyone except myself.
- I blame myself, and am overcome with guilt.
- I blame myself, and think I’m worthless.
- I come to believe there is no way out for me.
- I lose confidence in God and his love for me.
- I get myself further in and further down in the spiral of depression, with each sinful response I make.
As well as seeking the appropriate help indicated above, you need to humble yourself before the Lord and repent of these attitudes and actions. Rebuild your confidence in Christ by reading and listening to his Word, gaining your strength and significance from your Lord and refusing to listen to the destructive and deceptive lies of the evil one.
CAN DEPRESSION AND FAITH EXIST TOGETHER?
Yes. Depression and faith can exist together.
This is evident in the Psalms, where we read:
‘Why are you downcast, Oh my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him,
my Saviour and my God.’ [Psalm 43:5]
‘Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD.
O Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.
If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins,
O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.’ [Psalm 130:1-4]
It is also evident in the life history of Elijah, a man of very great faith [1 Kings 18] , who succombed to the stress of the moment and became despondent and despairing [1 Kings 19:1-18].