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I have endured some severe bouts of depression that stem from quite a few underlying causes, one of which is physical.  I was on an anti-depressant that made the bouts less severe and shorter in duration but had thought that once a circumstance was ending I could handle being off of it.  Not so.  So I am back on and we're looking into other methods in conjunction or something better that will alleviate even those minor leftovers. 

In the meantime, I have read massive amounts of books and websites on the subject of overcoming depression, emotions, etc.  I finally have come across a 1973 book by Christian author June Hunt called How to Handle Your Emotions, that covers six emotional areas (Anger, Depression, Fear, Grief Recovery, Rejection and Self Worth) in four parts each (Definitions, Characteristics, Causes and Steps to Solution).

The second section on Depression certainly hit home on many areas for how it affects me and feels.  She speaks of sometimes we have a need for medical intervention and she uses massive amounts of scripture to support everything she writes. 

Without going into the causes, definitions, etc., I want to give a few sections of Depression.  I will give the scripture references without full scriptures and will abbreviate a bit as it is lengthy.

F. Discover God's Purpose for Permitting Depression. 

God has a purpose for everything.  Even the times of painful pruning are useful.  Depression can heighten your awareness of God and increase your dependency on Him.  It can open your eyes to His unique design for you before, during and after your bouts.  Just as storms replenish dry and parched ground and give birth to flowers and new life, so the storms in life can revitalize your relationship with God and give birth to greater fruits. John 15:2,8

Depression is permitted to:

  1. Warn you something is wrong Psalm 119:67
  2. Slow you down and cause you to reflect inwardly 2 Corinthians 4:16
  3. Reveal your weakness 2 Corinthians 12:9
  4. Bring you to Him Hebrews 10:22
  5. Develop your trust in Him Psalm 43:5
  6. Be a healing process for damaged emotions Jeremiah 17:14
  7. Develop your perseverance and maturity James 1:2-4
  8. Affirm worth and value in your life Luke 12:6-7
  9. Cause you to rely on His resources 2 Peter 1:3-4
  10. Increase your compassion and understanding for others 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

(I can't help but apply the majority of these to myself)

She relates a story of Charles Haddon Spurgeon who openly reflected on his own bouts with depression and of Abraham Lincoln who suffered great losses and was so depressed he often spoke of suicide but then turned it all into greatness. Lincoln turned to scripture to help with his depression, most notably, he read Job during these bouts.  (I assume it hits everyone differently.  Job would tend to make me feel even worse.  LOL)

In light of how most people tell the depressed to snap out of it, here is what the author says.

G. Do's and Don'ts for Family and Friends

Be aware of the power of your words.  You can be God's instrument of hope to change the disposition of the depressed. Proverbs 12:25

Don't say "You shouldn't feel that way"

Say "I care about what you feel"  Offer to let them talk

Don't say "You need to quit taking that medicine."

Say "Not all meds work the same for everyone"  Offer to go with them to a thorough medical evaluation for a second opinion.

Don't say "You need to pray more."

Say "I'm praying for you and am going to keep praying" Offer to pray with them.

Don't say "You need to read the Bible more!"

Say "I have some passages that give me hope, mind if I share them" Offer to help them memorize scripture.

Don't say "You need to get involved in church"

Say "I would love for you to come to church with me" Offer to go with them

DON'T say "Snap out of it! Get over it!"

Say "I'm going to stick with you and we'll get through this together"  Be willing to help and give them someone to hold onto.

H. How You Can Help

Do NOT avoid them.  Find ways to show you care.  Plan a fun activity, exercise together, invite them to events and to run errands with you.  Their tendency is to withdraw.  Help then by getting them involved not just as a spectator.  You may be their only lifeline of hope.  Do what you wish someone else would do for you if you were the one struggling with depression.

  1. Learn about depression
  2. Find out if suicide is a concern
  3. Take all threats of suicide seriously
  4. Be an accountability partner
  5. Initiate regular dialogue
  6. Listen and hear their pain
  7. Talk about depression to remove the stigma of it
  8. Verbally encourage them often
  9. Realize the power of touch - a hand on the shoulder, hug
  10. Play inspirational praise music
  11. Bring laughter into their life
  12. Recommend nutritional therapy (vitamins B-6, E, calcium, magnesium and folic acid)
  13. Help them set small daily goals and check on their progress daily
  14. Enlist others to help

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I think I have shared this link with you before, but it involves the things that people say to those who are depressed -- things that are not too helpful, as you also mentioned some other things in your initial post that would be helpful. Big difference between the two. http://www.christian-depression.org/cdp/sayings.php

I was just in my monthly 4 series class for leadership last night.  We're doing John Maxwell's "Becoming a Person of Influence".  That is something stressed, about building people up.  About when someone has no confidence in themselves, we're supposed to try and instill confidence in them.  We're supposed to keep bringing up their strengths, point out the good we see.  But most often, people forget to do this and they automatically respond in a wrong way.  Even the guy leading the class has been known to respond in ways that left me more hurt.  But last night he was pointing out my strengths and how much growth he's seen. 

I think we all need reminders and also we are all still learning about many of God's teachings regarding Ephesians 4:29 and Ephesians 4:2. It's been important to me for someone to mention they see growth in me or positive change. 1 Cor 12:25-26 is also a good reminder for the Body. We should have the same care for one another, whether their problem is depression or cancer or some trauma and so forth. The same care. No prejudices based on what is mental, physical, etc ... IMO

Hello Char! Looks to me like you found a good book and I am happy that you are sharing some of it with us. I have gone through many times of great sadness (I don't like the term depression). This is very helpful information and I will use this for my own life as well as others.

Your Brother in Christ,

journeyman

Well mine's been more than sadness JM, which is why I do call what I experience as depression.  It is simply like being locked inside my own thoughts, one telling me to snap out of it, and yet the other saying why bother.  I'm looking at things through some kind of fog.  When you sit down to read and after about the 5th time of reading the same sentence you finally realize you just read it five times and still don't know what you read, or when you sit down to watch a TV show and get lost in some thought off in space and realize you just watched an entire show without watching it....that's depression.

I would just like to say how good it was to read this post. Personally I have bipolar disorder and have suffered many bouts of mania and depression that is best managed by several medications and monthly therapy. I have been dealing with this mental illness for 12 years. I used to wonder how in the world God could have let me be born this way and expect me to live a Christ like life when so often I wanted to just lay down and never get up again. But then one day I realized that God made me exactly as he wanted me to be. He knows when I am depressed or manic and as long as I am doing my best for Him it is good enough. I have a history of abuse and then I have to understand my brain chemicals just aren't like most people's. So, the medication is very necessary. I have tried to go without it but I now know that there is nothing wrong with needing medication. I have chosen to take every moment of my life to grow closer to God and to help others like me. I am currently getting my degree in psychology and plan to go into Christian counseling. I am currently a paramedic and often I run calls on suicidal patients and overdoses and I thank God for my personal experiences so that I can understand and reach out to those patients when they call out for help or try to end their life. 

I never knew the Bible had so many references to depression until I read this post and I am so glad you posted it. I have been on this site a while but have been away for a long time until today and I don't think it is a coincidence that the first post I came to was yours. I don't know about your hard times but I do understand exactly what severe depression feels like and just know that God will take those tough times and build you up and make you even stronger. I know that medication treats my symptoms but the only reason I am alive today is because God came into my heart and healed my soul. He gave me a reason to keep on trying and I am thankful He sent His son to die on the cross for me because I don't deserve any of it. Having a good support system is important and I hope I can continue to come here and receive the spiritual support I so need. Depression is what has kept me away so long, well, work and school too, but if nothing else, your post has blessed me today and I just wanted to say Thank you. 

You're welcome.  I posted it as much for myself...retyping what I read helps me to remember it, as I did thinking if it was a help to me, it may be to others.  I know we can all overcome depression with God's help, but nothing worth having in this life is instantaneous.  It takes a lot of work, change, and time to heal.  And part of what has made my own depression worse at times is that I hear so many who want to blame depression on demons that need cast out of you or tell you it's a choice.  But a choice without a clear way or ability to make, isn't really a choice.

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