If you work with teens, parent teens or are a teen, it’s vitally important that you understand key truths about depression. Read on for what to do if you deal with depression, and ways Christians can respond with understanding to people who experience depression.
What Does Depression Look Like?
Depression presents itself in a variety of forms.
For warning signs of depression, or if you think you might have depression, go to helpyourselfhelpothers.org to take a free mental health assessment.
Some people’s natural speed for life is set fairly slow. During times of sadness, they may peter off into the depressed ditch.
Some people drive high on the highway of life until they burn out. They may be the givers, who continuously give and never take care of themselves. They tend to crash hard and fall fast.
Many people are somewhere in the middle of those extremes.
Anger is hidden within most depression. Men often express depression in the form of outward hostility and rage.
How about you and those you love? What is your life speed? What happens when you or your loved ones get sad or depression comes?
Recognition is important. When you are aware of your patterns and the patterns of your loved ones, you are able to get help much more quickly.
Depression is Popular
On and off throughout the last 20 years of my adult life, I have struggled with depression.
Even though I have dealt with depression, I am not a depressed or sad person. Allow me to share why.
What I’m about to say might offend some people. I do not mean to downplay the very real struggles of those with significant (and there is no insignificant — it’s all real) mental illness. I feel called to share my truth, and this is my truth.
“Depression Junk” (my term for it) is seriously popular in our culture these days.
Depression is In.
Try this for yourself. Go to Google, type in depression quotes and see what comes up. Gray. Bleak. Bleck.
This depressing junk is seriously popular. I’m not talking about true information. Here are some of the most popular “encouraging” quotes I found about depression:
monster don’t sleep under your bed they sleep inside your head.
And then suddenly I became sad for no reason at all.
She was drowning but nobody saw her struggle.
It’s scary what a smile can hide.
I hate this feeling. Like I’m here, but I’m not. Like someone cares, But they don’t. Like I belong somewhere else, anywhere but here.
Look, I understand that it’s helpful to know there are others who are going through a similar experience, especially when you feel incredibly lonely. Yet depression is not meant to bring you into the in crowd.
Real Truths about Depression
Now that I’m 20 years on this side of depression, I know certain things to be true. I am not a doctor, therapist or expert, but I have a gut feeling these are true for most people.
The times I was depressed, all of these things were true for me:
- Yes, there were physical causes, and yes, medication helped. However, every single time:
- I had past emotional junk I needed to deal with.
- My thinking patterns were distorted and needed correction. (Therapy helped with this.)
- I was not taking care of myself physically in some ways (often many ways).
- I did too much and overextended.
- I wallowed in self-pity and played the victim.
- I was angry about stuff.
How to Get Help for Depression
- If you or someone you love deals with depression, prolonged sadness, PTSD or suicidal thoughts, please seek professional help from a doctor or therapist. If you have thoughts of harming yourself or someone else, please call 911 or seek help immediately. Help is available–it is possible to get better. Check out this post for more resources – Q&A with a Therapist about Teen Depressionn
- Depression is a way to tune out when you or someone you love is totally overwhelmed. You or a loved one with depression may be mad at the world and beyond frustrated. To get out of this low place, a change in thinking errors is necessary.
- Worship with other believers. The temptation is to withdraw and be alone. As tempting as that is, do all you can not to isolate yourself. Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” If a big church service is too much, attend a smaller gathering or request a home visit from your pastor.
- Take communion at every opportunity. The sacraments offer you forgiveness, refreshment and blessing.
- Memorize encouraging Bible verses. Here is a list of helpful Bible verses for depression. Write these on cards and place them around your house. Even if the promises don’t feel true today, they still are.
- God is the great healer. Psalm 40 is a comforting Psalm of meditation during times of depression. You may not understand God’s timing or His ways, but you can trust that the God who created the universe will continually care for you, His most beloved child. Pray from the Psalms,
“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.” (Psalm 40:1-2)
- Depression is huge sink hole. The more you are depressed, the more it becomes tempting to get swallowed in the pit. While I’m all for reaching out to others who understand, you have got to step away from that dark stuff. Reach for the goodness that only comes from Jesus.
Whatsoever things are pure, dear friends.
Take a tiny step toward the truth of forgiveness and salvation through Jesus. Take one teeny small step today. The Bible tells us where to turn our thoughts:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)
Turn away from the dark lies depression whispers in your ear. Turn toward the light of truth that is found in God’s word. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
Depression may not look like you first expect. Depression junk is popular in culture today, but it doesn’t offer hope. The real truths about depression are sometimes not easy to face, yet when you do, Jesus meets you there with a peace that passes all understanding.
Has depression impacted you, your family or church?
Always seek the help of your doctor or a trained mental health professional. This website is not giving nor is it a substitute for medical advice. If you feel you might harm yourself or others, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.
Help is always available at The National Suicide Prevention Line. By calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.
For more information and practical tools for depression, go to: http:/www.saraborgstede.com/the-hope-toolbox/