Depression is fast becoming an epidemic with the expectation that by the year 2020, 1 out of 3 people will be suffering from its crippling affects. How do you recognize depression? What are the symptoms? When should you get help for yourself or a loved one? How do you as a caregiver or person in ministry walk alongside someone else who is suffering from the disease? JBU has put together a starting place to answer these questions.
First, we’ll introduce you to two different women struggling with depression and what it looks like for each of them in the hopes that if you’re struggling with depression, you will be encouraged that you are not alone. Then we’ll walk you through what depression is, who gets it, how serious it can get, some of the causes, the different types of depression, and how it can be treated. Finally, we’ll conclude with some resources for you and for helping others through depression. There is a great deal of hope in treating depression today. People can lead fulfilling and successful lives with the right treatment, and many can even completely recover from it. The first steps are in education and understanding so those suffering from it can get the very best help possible in an environment of love and grace.
TWO DIFFERENT STORIES
I Struggle with Clinical Depression by Jeanette DeLoatche Phelps
I cannot tell you when the sun came up over the horizon in my life. I do not know the time or place when a smile returned to my face. All I know is that for the first time in two years I’ve felt hope. I now believe that I will make it. I am a woman in leadership who suffers from clinical depression.... READ MORE
Lifting the Veil By Chante Truscott
Sometimes you don’t realize where you are until you leave that place. Can you imagine feeling like you are in an abyss, but having to pretend that you are on top of the world? You don’t know why you can’t seem to enjoy the everyday moments that used to bring you so much joy. From the outside looking in, your life seems to be going pretty well. But on the inside, you are a shell of your former self.... READ MORE
Depression...The Common Cold of the Emotional Life by Ingrid Lawrenze, MSW
What did Charles Spurgeon, Abraham Lincoln, the prophet Elijah, Winston Churchill, and King David all have in common? They all suffered at various times from the dark cold of depression. Someone has called depression the “common cold of emotional illnesses.” It is a problem that affects approximately 18.8 million Americans ─ nearly 10 percent of the population ─ and is often misunderstood, misdiagnosed, and confused with lack of faith. Let’s take a look at the causes, types, and treatment of depression, with a special focus on its effect on a person’s spiritual walk.
Believing Christians and those who minister to others are most certainly not immune to depression. Pastors, missionaries, and other ministry workers – and their spouses – live highly stressed lives, bearing many responsibilities, changes, and expectations. People come to you and share their heavy problems. Often the images of their horror stories stay alive in your own mind. It’s easy to believe that you must rescue them and fix their painful situations. This is very wearing. Some may experience what is called secondary traumatization, in which they pick up the depression of the people they are helping. You need to be aware of the signs of depression in yourself and in those to whom you minister.
So, what is depression?....READ MORE
Whether you are suffering from depression yourself or a loved one is you need to educate yourself and find support. The following resources will help you get started.
For Personal Help
When Life Goes Dark by Richard Winter (InterVarsity Press c2012)
This book is a helpful guide for those who find themselves, their loved ones or those they counsel vulnerable to depression. The book provides a framework both for understanding depression and rediscovering hope. Psychiatrist and theologian Richard Winter explores the complex medical and psychological issues surrounding depression. He sorts through recent scientific research on its biochemical and genetic causes and examines social and cultural factors. Winter also dispels common Christian misunderstandings of depression and looks at how biblical characters experienced severe depair. Throughout he offers ways to help the suffering. Even in the shadow of the valley of death, there is hope for healing an deliverance.
Breaking Through Depression: A Biblical and Medical Approach to Emotional Wholeness by Donald Hall. (Harvest House c2009)
Depression affects a person mentally, spiritually, and physically, greatly impacting their lives and the people they love. This book is a must-read for anyone who suffers from this debilitating illness, or has a friend or family member affected by depression. With empathy and clear language, psychiatrist Donald Hall explains recent scientific discoveries about the role of chemicals in the brain, and how depression, like other illnesses, has symptoms and cures.
Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David D. Burns, M.D. (Harper c1999)
This book describes depression and mood disorders. It is focused on Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). In the updated edition, Dr. Burns adds an All-New-Consumer’s Guide to Anti-depressant Drugs as well as a new introduction to help you answer your questions about the many options available for treating depression.
Is Your Teen Stressed or Depressed? – A Practical and Inspirational Guide for Parents of Hurting Teenagers by Dr. Arch Hart and Dr. Catherine Hart Weber (Thomas Nelson c2005)
Is your teen simply acting like a hormone-raging teenager, or actually suffering from too much stress or even depression? This book is a practical guide for parents and role models for teens who are struggling in life, in deep waters, or suffering through some form of pain. The book is also for those wondering if their teen is going through normal growth and challenges, or if he is at risk for more serious problems of stress, anxiety, depression, and related challenges and needs professional help.
For Helping Others
Ministry with Persons with Mental Illness and Their Families by Robert H. Albers, William H. Meller, and Steven D. Thurber, editors (Fortress Press c2012)
A handbook for those caring for those afflicted and affected by mental illness. Those who are afflicted as well as those who are adversely affected by mental illness often live lives of “quiet desperation” without proper assistance. Most caregivers confronted with these illnesses in the work of ministry have no training or accurate information about mental illnesses, so frequently they do nothing, resulting in further harm and damage.
In this book, eighteen psychiatrists and pastoral theologians come together in a collaborative effort to ensure accuracy of information concerning the medical dimensions of mental illness, interpret these illnesses from a faith perspective and make suggestions relative to effective ministry. Readers will learn how science and faith tradition cannot only co-exist but work in tandem to alleviate the pain of the afflicted and affected.
Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission by Amy Simpson (InterVarsity Press c2013)
Amy Simpson calls the church to a renewed commitment to people who suffer from mental illness and to the families that suffer with them. Drawing on her own family’s history of mental illness, Simpson provides a bracing look at the social and physical realities of mental illness and explores new possibilities for ministry to this stigmatized group. Includes first-person stories of mental illness in and around church, provides information on various kinds of mental illness, provides concrete direction for churches that are ready to respond helpfully and meaningfully to mental illness.
Both of these websites provide tremendous resources for depression:
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness (nami.org)
- The National Institute on Mental Health (nimh.nih.gov)
- pbs.org has many videos available, such as Out of the Shadows, which are comprehensive documentaries into the lives of people experiencing major depressive disorders.