*First I’d like to preface this by saying that if you suffer from serious depression and/or have been suffering for a long time, or have ever considered ending your life, please talk to someone right away: a spouse, family member, pastor, good friend, doctor or counselor.
I, like millions of people, have dealt with periods of depression. For me, being an introvert doesn’t help, and neither do the long Michigan winters. I won’t go into all the reasons people suffer from depression, but there are many triggers. I am not a professional; I just know what has worked for me, and think it may work for others. I’ve learned to detect it early-I can feel it coming-and have some very practical things I do that pull me out before I fall too deeply. Sometimes these are the last things people feel like doing when they are depressed. It takes a little will-power and motivation, but if you make yourself do these things, you may begin to notice a difference.
1)Take a break from social media: If one of your triggers is feeling like you don’t measure up, social media provides the food for the beast. People often post about their family’s achievements, recent acquisitions, and fabulous vacations, etc. It’s easy to see what others have and feel that what you have pales in comparison.
2)Take some Vitamin D: This is especially helpful if you suffer from seasonal depression, when you can’t get outside every day to enjoy the natural Vitamin D. “Vitamin D acts on the areas of your brain that are linked to depression.” 1
3)Exercise: Exercise releases feel good hormones. Depression can make you feel tired and weak, but if you can just talk yourself into giving exercise a try, the energy will come!2
4)Leave the house!: This is key. Often the last thing people want to do is leave the house. They don’t want to face people. They want to hide. Isolation will just make depression worse. Again, talk yourself into it; force yourself to leave. Interact with people. It helps you remember that you aren’t alone.
5)Think of others: Often depression causes people to retreat into a bubble. They have trouble seeing outside of themselves. This self-induced isolation makes them forget that other people have problems too, and often those problems are worse than what they are dealing with. Do something nice for someone. Reach out to someone or volunteer with a ministry.
6)Okay, I saved the most important for last-spend time with God:
- Spend time in the Word. At first, you may feel numb and it may seem like you may as well be reading a dictionary or phonebook. Keep reading. The Word of God is penetrating your spirit even if you mind is elsewhere.
- Worship God. It doesn’t matter if you feel like worshipping or not. God still deserves praise and worship, and it will be uplifting to your spirit as well.
- Ultimately, God cares for you more than anyone else. When you feel completely alone, you never are. He brings healing to mind, body and spirit. Just be real. Ask God to help you. This is a verse God gave me once when I was battling depression: “Call out to me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” Psalm 50:15
- Take every thought captive that is contrary to God’s Word-take on the mind of Christ: “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. . .(2Corinthians 10:4-5) Depression is a stronghold, and strongholds often begin in the mind. If the thoughts you have are contrary to God’s Word-I don’t matter, I’m not important, etc.-they are not of God, and they need to be taken captive.
Lastly, don’t be embarrassed. I have heard too many stories of people taking their lives because they have suffered in silence, too embarrassed to reach out for help. (Even lately I have heard startling statistics of depression and suicide rates among pastors because they feel they aren’t supposed to be depressed, so they can’t possibly tell anyone.) By sharing your story, you just may help someone who otherwise wouldn’t reach out for help. You may help someone get their life back, or even save it.