Have you ever felt like you were slipping over the edge into a deep, dark abyss? Have you sensed the afternoon sun slowly beginning to fade, even though it is an otherwise beautiful, cloudless day? Have you ever felt like some inexplicable power is slowly sucking the life out of you? If you have, my heart goes out to you. You see, when we feel this way, we are easily overcome with a sense of desperation; and, we are most likely dealing with depression.
Depression should be taken seriously. WebMD reports that “major depression affects about 6.7% of the U.S. population over age 18, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Overall, between 20% and 25% may suffer an episode of major depression at some point during their lifetime.” If you have ever experienced depression, or known someone who has, you know full-well that a person with the symptoms of depression should promptly seek professional help.
Since so much has been said and written about depression (a recent Google search for “depression” yielded more than 237 million hits), what can I possibly add to the discussion? Well, I don’t have anything grand or profound to write. Still, I would like to offer these five suggestions:
1) Look out for yourself. Major depression often goes unreported. If you are struggling, I implore you to seek help. The University of Maryland Medical Center urges people who are experiencing five or more symptoms of depression every day for two weeks to seek professional help.
2) Look out for your loved ones. This is especially those who are dealing with the sorts of things that might trigger depression. The National Institute of Mental Health has a detailed booklet on depression that is available for download by clicking HERE.
3) Look to the Lord for strength and guidance. The Scriptures are full of sources of encouragement. Passages like Psalm 23 and Psalm 46 have always been a source of strength to me. There are many other resources available, as well. You can find these online from sources like Christianbook.com and amazon.com. Even though it has been in print for some time now, one book that has been especially helpful to me is Happiness is a Choice by Frank Minirth M.D., Paul Meier M.D.
4) Let the Lord help you carry the load. I know that sounds trite. I apologize for that. But, it still needs to be said. I could list a boat load of verses here, but I won’t. One should suffice. The Apostle Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit of God, wrote, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” We read this is 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT). God can and God will help us if we will but cast our anxieties on Him.
5) Let your fellow sojourners help you through the difficult times. Again, many verses could be listed, but I’ll list just one. In Galatians 6:2 Christians are exhorted to, “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” Burden-sharing is a responsibility for all Christians. However, when it comes to dealing with depression, we may need to take the initiative in letting a trusted friend know that we’re struggling. This is especially true if we’ve had years of practice at keeping up appearances around our “church friends.”
If you are dealing with even one or many of the challenges which can trigger major depression, my heart goes out to you. If you are one of the precious souls struggling with feeling like you are precariously perched at the edge of the deep, dark, desperate abyss of depression, my heart also goes out to you. My heart’s desire and prayer to God is that you will find rest in Him and seek the help you need.
© Bill Williams, a fellow sojourner
September 1, 2016