By Lisa Sorey, MS
Hope for Depression
A friend of mine lost her job a few months ago. Charlotte tells me that she feels like she can’t think clearly these days and that she feels her brain is in a fog. When we talked recently she told me that she was too down to go to any job interviews. Charlotte says she mostly sits around the house alone. My friend feels that she won’t ever get hired for a job, and says she feels like a failure.
My dear friend may be depressed. According to the National Institute for Mental Health, in 2016 more than 10 million Americans ages 18 and older reported at least one episode of depression for the year. In the same year, 3.1 million adolescents ages 12-17 reported at least one depressive episode.
Many of us and our friends and families have felt depressed. How do we know if we are just sort of down in the dumps or truly depressed? If a person experiences a period of two weeks or longer during which there may be depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure, it might be that the person is experiencing depression. It is a good idea to seek help if this is the case.
The good news is that there is hope! What are some things that we can do to improve depression?
Admit that you need help.
Depression can be caused by many factors we haven’t discussed here. And there are several different types of depression. It is wise to seek help to begin to understand what is going on. A full medical examination is a good idea, especially if you haven’t had one recently. Seek a mental health professional that you trust and share your medical information with them. The therapist or counselor can help you in the battle against depression.
Moderate exercise is a great way to elevate your mood!
You don’t have to run a marathon— just find something you enjoy and work up to about 30 minutes per day. Ask a friend to do this with you. Many enjoy exercise with others much more than if they are alone.
A nutritionist or physician can help you with a healthy diet.
A diet made of mostly healthy fruits, vegetables, and lean protein can tremendously help the way you feel.
Try journaling your thoughts.
Look back over them and ask yourself if your thoughts are true. For example, my friend Charlotte says she feels like a failure. I can ask her to take that thought and change it to a true statement that is supported by Scripture such as “I am a precious child of God; I am made in God’s image.”
Refocus your thinking from life’s stresses.
Look at each new day as a gift from God! Look for even the smallest blessings. Find joy in a hot cup of tea, a sunny day, or a smiling baby.
Throw out the belief depression is due to lack of faith in God.
It is perfectly permissible to take medication for depression. Postpartum depression and bipolar depression can be due to biochemical imbalances and successfully treated with medication. Sadly, many Christians fear stigma if they seek help for depression. By doing nothing, they suffer unnecessarily.
Depression can cause us to isolate ourselves.
Seek out caring, positive, uplifting people. Find a way to get more involved in your church. Look for a place to volunteer in your community. Join a Bible study. Yes, going new places and meeting new people can be hard, but the change will be worth it!
If you are depressed, please remember that you are not alone! God is with you and He knows your every thought, desire, and pain. He is always with you, even if you don’t feel His presence. Trusting Him means that we truly rely on Him and continue to believe even when we cannot feel or see. Run to Him and pour out your heart to Him.
“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.” Psalm 42:5-6
Lisa Sorey is currently employed at Summit Counseling as an Intern Associate. Lisa and her husband, Adrian, reside in Terry, MS.