How The Church Should Address Depression

How The Church Should Address Depression

Depression is a huge epidemic in our world today, and we can all be guilty of not taking it seriously enough. We as Christians struggle in trying to figure out how to deal with this kind of thing, when we should be the ones leading the way. Unfortunately, as medical science and psychology continue to make more advances to help explain the causes of depression, the church falls behind as they try to grapple with how to address the issue. It’s almost as if the church is worried of accepting too much science as they think that will somehow dampen the role of the church and God in a person’s healing.

But the truth is that this black and white stance that we often adopt isn’t effective at all; it actually underequips us to help those who suffer from the grips of depression. The approach that I believe is needed is to realize that science is God’s gift to us, which is the basis for this very website. Didn’t God, the one who created all things, also create science? He intended for His creation to benefit its inhabitants. God can and often does work through doctors, psychologists, and counselors to help those who are suffering.

What we need is a combined approach along with prayer, support groups, and an openness to hard topics like depression.

Dealing with depression the right way provides a tremendous service to all of those going through this. So here are the steps that we should be taking:

1. Provide a multi-approach treatment to help those suffering with depression.

Some people respond to anti-depressant medications such as Zooloft and Paxil while others don’t. Some people might respond to individual counseling while others may do better in group therapy. The important thing here is to understand that each person is different and has a unique set of factors that contribute to their depression. With this in mind, it’s important to provide easy access to all of these resources to see which form of treatment(s) work the best for a person’s depression.

2. Allow people with depression to openly talk about it.

For many people in the church, it can be difficult to openly talk about their depression. I think this is a result of a few things:

1) The church’s inability to take a stand on mental illness and address it, and 2) the stigma that mental illnesses like depression are caused by a person’s sin.

As the church, the more we address depression, the more comfortable people with depression may feel about coming forward in order to get help. Additionally, faith-based support groups may be a great way to reach out to depression victims and simply let them talk and seek guidance.

3. Educate more people in pastoral ministry about depression.

The best way to deal with anything is first to understand it. We can better address the issue if we know more about it and how to approach it. It would be a huge benefit to teach spiritual leaders the latest evidence-based techniques so that they can in turn identify and counsel those with depression.

4. Change the way depression is viewed by the church.

We have to stop treating depression as a solely spiritual disease. While depression can definitely arise from temptation or doubt, it’s also a physical battle. Telling people you’ll pray for them simply won’t cut it; we have to reach out in effective, realistic ways. Often we see depression as a taboo topic because we assume those with depression are somehow less holy than us.

This mindset is dangerous, and we need to treat victims with love and not just pity. One of the biggest things that keeps people with depression from approaching the church about this problem is fear of judgment by others. Grace and compassion should be evident in the way we approach and understand those who are dealing with depression.

As you can see, there are several steps we can take to reach out to depression victims and help be a part of the cure. 1 Corinthians 1:3-4 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

We are called to use what God has blessed us with to bless others and lead them to the infinite love of Christ. Depression is an uphill battle, but we believe in a God that can move mountains. He has given us all we need to be the light of the world; so why would we ever stop shining for Him?

How do you think the Church should address Depression?

Blessings,

Peter

 

 

Comments

9 Comments

  • So glad you chose to tackle this important topic. As there is not one cause for depression, there is not one cure for it. As you stated there are multiple approaches that should be addressed. As a child and young person, I suffered from depression. Though it not longer has a stigma in the world, there is still a stigma in church. Getting to the heart of the cause and then treating it appropriately is advised and does less damage than blaming the victim for a lack of faith!

    • HealingfromGod HealingfromGod says:

      Hi Pamela, thanks for stopping by. I actually think there still exists a stigma about mental illness both in the world and in the church. I think it is improving however. Do you still suffer from Depression? In your experience, what helped you?

      Blessings,

      Peter

      • Peter, I remember having thoughts of suicide as young as eight years old. So, I cannot say if I was chemically depressed, or it was a result of a childhood trauma. After years of praying, I finally went to the doctor and was prescribed something for depression and anxiety. Lexapro worked very well for me with no side effects. I also went to counseling and received prayer. I no longer take any medication, and occasionally get little depressed, but nothing crippling like before. I also can’t let the enemy run rampant in my thoughts unchecked! I have to reject anything that is not productive. 2 Cor.10:5.

        I also do a lot better when I am helping others. (Water and you will be watered) Chronic Depression is a signal that something is wrong, either spiritually, physically or emotionally. Seeking professional help or taking medication does not mean you don’t have faith, but that you have the wisdom to find out the source of you problem and get the help you need and deserve! It can save and improve the quality your life!

        • HealingfromGod HealingfromGod says:

          Hi Pam,

          Thanks so much for sharing your experiences and praise God that you were able to overcome it. I think the more we as the Church are open to mental illness, the better equipped we will be in being able to counsel or direct someone to the appropriate resources.

          Like you mentioned, we shouldn’t be afraid of using drugs because they certainly have their place in treating mental illnesses. However, they are also not an all-encompassing treatment either.

          I have found at the in-patient clinic I currently work at, drugs are often just a way to manage the symptoms. Many of them need and are currently getting a combined approach using psychotherapy, group therapy, one on one, spiritual guidance (many attend our local Church). All of these aspects are important and each should be tailored to each person.

          Peter

          • It is so good to know that you are doing the work to help those with mental illness. God wants us completely whole, and we can’t put Him in a box. He also uses men and women to bring healing to those who suffer.

          • Peter Peter says:

            Hi Pam,

            Thanks so much, I really am passionate about helping people with mental illness, probably because I have seen how damaging it can be in my own life. I appreciate your kind words and support. I’ve also had the opportunity to visit your site and you have some wonderful writings there that I hope other people will get a chance to see.

  • Deborah Bailey says:

    I am very grateful for those who have a burden for depression and the way that it is dealt with by both th churches and society. God bless!

  • Stephanie says:

    Thank you for the article. I struggle with it as well and I find that churches tend to shy away from the subject matter. Even worse, one of my own friends whom I trusted pretty much made it seem like it was my fault. This will shy people away from church if it is not addressed or handled in a more compassionate manner.

    • Peter Peter says:

      Hi Stephanie,

      Yah, unfortunately I think the reason these things happen is because of an almost “pressure” that exists in many churches because of the idea that they should be a one stop shop for all problems because of after all, we have a relationship with God. This sort of attitude though is outdated, harmful, and in my opinion, limits God within the confines of a church.

      We as a church, need to recognize and humble ourselves that we don’t have all the answers and don’t need to but also that God uses healthcare providers and others to help with depression.

      Have you seen a clinician to help you with your depression?

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