Depression is real
Depression is more than just feeling sad — it is a serious condition which makes coping with day-to-day living very hard and leaves you feeling down most of the time.
Depression is REAL and it can lead to devastating results.
When someone comes to you and tells you that they are feeling depressed LISTEN and don’t trivialise them.
Depression should never be treated flippantly, always take what you hear seriously.
Sadly not that long ago a blogger wrote a post and linked to Facebook about depression and provided very poor advice, which included “kick out self-pity quickly”. It was clear that this blogger didn’t understand depression and had never been around someone with depression. Someone wrote in the comments that they were feeling very suicidal that day. Someone else provided the emergency US suicide phone number. The blogger deleted it. I was angry as this was a call for help and the blogger treated it with distain. Here was an opportunity to reach out and make a differences, instead she simply deleted the message. We must never do this, even if you think the person isn’t severely depressed.
Depression is a disease that can make life miserable. When one's spouse is depressed or a friend or close family member, it can change the relationship emotionally, spiritually and physically and drives both parties into isolation.
There is hope
No matter who is suffering from depression, there is help. Many people have already traveled this dark road and there are many different services available to help the person suffering depression and the family as a whole.
So what are the signs to look out for, especially if it is your spouse, your child or someone close to you (these lists have been sourced from Focus on the Family)
- Daily sadness (a deeper sadness)
- Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
- Restless, anxious or irritable behaviour
- Trouble concentrating, focusing or remembering, restless
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, frustration, unhappiness, indecisiveness, disappointment and plain miserable.
- Excessive weariness and lethargy
- Thinking they
- Sleeping or eating too much or too little
- Unexplained aches and pains
- Thoughts of suicide or death
If you recognize any of these symptoms persisting in your loved one for more than a few weeks, check with your family doctor or call the national helplines such as Beyond Blue in Australia. Earlier if you think things are getting worse.
When a care-giver understands that clinical depression is a genuine medical condition, he or she may actually feel empowered. It's encouraging to realize there are a number of tangible ways to help a spouse/friend or parent with depression:
- Pray fervently with and for them.
- Share meaningful Scripture verses.
- Help them see that the family needs them to get well.
- Listen; give credibility to their feelings.
- Seek help for yourself and offer to see a therapist with them.
- Encourage them to consider medication (even in the short term); research shows that 80% of those suffering from depressive disorders can be treated successfully with modern medications. Most come off the medication after awhile.
- Show affection; encourage them to get out and do things with you.
- Tell your loved one to just pray about it or make them feel like healing would come if they'd simply trust God more. Whilst pray is VERY important, medical attention is also required. No one would recommend to a person with cancer to just pray about getting better, mental health needs to be treated with the same seriousness. Pray and trust is essential, however, we also need medical assistances.
- Make them feel guilty for the impact of their illness on the family.
- Blame or criticize them.
- Imply that they need help because they're weak. Also, don't immediately exclude other family members from counseling. Sometimes, complex relational issues involving several family members can spark depression.
- Expect medication to solve everything. Also, don't discount the need for prayer — and possibly therapy.
- Let them continue in a pattern of sleep and isolation.
If someone you love is suffering depression and you are providing care be aware that deep sorrow can be infectious, and it's not uncommon for caregivers to develop symptoms of depression themselves. Guard against this possibility by eating well, exercising, getting enough sleep, and staying in the Word.
The important thing is to not sit back and do nothing. Take depression seriously, no one is immune from depression, however God is our hope in the midst of depression. We need to cast our eyes upon Him and He will give us strength. Whilst this sounds so easy, those in the middle of an episode are so blinded by their feelings of despair that they struggle to grasp hold of God's Word. It is where you, as the carer, need to guide them back and pray so vehemently that they can.
For all those struggling today - look up, God is holding out His hand to you.
Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.' (Isaiah 41:10)
If need you need help urgently for yourself or your loved one:
If you are in danger of harming yourself or someone else, please call
- Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636 (24/7 hotline)
- Lifeline: 13 11 14 (24/7 hotline)
- If you are in danger of harming yourself or someone else, please call 911.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255 (24/7 phone hotline)