Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Christian and Depressed: What Churches Can Do to Help Persons with Mood Disorders

cross 2.jpgToday I received this email from a Beyond Blue reader:


“I’m a Christian, and have been struggling with depression and my faith since my brother took his life 2-1/2 years ago. I joined your group for friends and tips on dealing with problems with Major Depression. I feel like I just make my church friends uncomfortable, and they can’t understand why I haven’t snapped out of it and declared amazing victory through my faith.”


I experienced that too, which was very disappointing. Because my faith is such a huge part of my recovery from depression and addiction. I didn’t understand why so few Christians, and even fewer pastors or religious leaders, knew what to say. One time in college I stood up in the middle of a homily and walked out. The priest going on and on about how the faithful should flock to the confessional instead of a psychologist’s office because the real battle is fought in the soul, and a bunch of diagnoses and medication prescriptions only legitimize the behaviors and thought patterns that we should regard as sins.

Rev. Mark Brown, who used to write “Brownblog,” and now writes “Journey Deeper Into God’s Word” asked me awhile back to write about what churches need to do to help the folks in their congregation that struggle with mood disorders, and I would bet a third of them do, based on the newest mental health statistics I covered the other day.


I think it’s important to go over them again, in the hope that some of these suggestions will reach ministers who can make a difference. Here, then, are just a few ways that churches might begin to help those who suffer from mental illness.

1. Get educated.

One of the members of Group Beyond Blue, recently started a discussion thread called “Church + Mental Illness” and posted the thoughts of John Clayton, a well-respected author and speaker who was interestingly enough a devout atheist until his early twenties. He wrote this:


The first thing the Church and its leadership must do is become educated about the mentally ill. Education will remove misconceptions, fear, and prejudice. There are many in the Church that can help us in this education, especially those in our Christian schools and in our larger congregations who are full-time psychologists and psychiatrists. The worst mistake we can make is to expect preachers and elders to be able to solve all the problems the mentally ill and their loved ones have. Doing this is analogous to expecting a preacher to do bypass surgery, and the damage done can be equivalent.

It can be as easy as browsing some mental health websites, like Psych Central,, Web MD, Revolution Health, and Everyday Health; checking out nonprofit groups such as NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) or DBSA (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance), and others; visiting a library to see what kinds of literature they have available on mental illness; attending a lecture by an expert in the field at a nearby college; tuning into one of the top 10 psychology videos found on; visiting an expert’s website or blog; and finally, making an appointment to speak to a psychiatrist or psychologist in the area.


2. Talk about it.

As I said in my introduction, I’m disappointed that I don’t hear more about the problem of depression and anxiety in sermons today. I mean, if the landmark survey of over 9,000 people in 2005 published in the Archives of General Psychiatry was accurate in reporting that one in four adults have symptoms of at least one mental disorder each year–typically anxiety and depression–and that nearly half of all Americans suffer from a mental disorder at some point during their lifetime, with only a third of those seeking help, half of which are incorrectly diagnosed, than there are a lot of people in our world that are suffering. Why not address it from the pulpit?


3. Host a support group.

A church is a natural place to host a support group for those gripped by anxiety or depression. Some churches do host such groups, but they don’t mention it in the Sunday bulletin or on the church website–because so many of these are started by an outsider to the church–so most members of the church don’t have a clue it’s going on. There are church groups for widows, singles, young adults, even young moms. Why not host one for folks and/or the family of people dealing with mental illness, and publicize it in the bulletin, on the website, and in flyers visible to the congregation as they enter for worship?

4. Provide literature.

NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) and other nonprofits are usually happy to provide free brochures to churches, doctors’ offices, wellness centers, or any location that would like them handy for folks to pick up on their way in and out of these places. Moreover, most churches have a library of donated books. Why not have available in the library a resource or two for people who want to learn more about depression, anxiety, or another mental illness. For a list of good staples, see my post on recommended books. Churches could even provide a book group for those who want to learn more about mood disorders and discuss related problems.


5. Hold a special service.

A few days ago, Beyond Blue reader Glenn Slaby and his family talked to a few priests at St. Pat’s Cathedral about holding a special service for the intention of those persons and their families suffering from mental illness. I thought it was a beautiful idea. In fact, it reminded me of Old St. Pat’s in Chicago that holds a Valentine’s Day service for all the couples who have met through the church.

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To visit my post on BrownBlog, click here.

  • Jeter Poslin

    I enjoyed reading this today.Churches need to address this issue as they have alcoholism ..and other problems their members are afflicted with.Its not a question of lack of will power or bad character.They are an illness,that Thank God are treatable.Churches need to comfort and support them if they are truely doing God’s will.

  • Elizabeth Hageness

    Colossians 3:2 remains a daily inspiration:
    “Let heaven fill your thoughts.
    Do not think only about things down here on earth.”
    New Living Translation.
    “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
    New International Version.
    Any discussion about the mind
    needs first & foremost to be based on Scripture.
    Colossians 3:2 is a simple, powerful place to start.
    Think about it!

  • Jarrod@ Optimistic Journey

    It is important for ministers and preachers in churches to become educated to depression. Saying that depression is a result of sin is adding fuel to the fire. Thanks for being an avenue for people to come to become aware and educated of this mental illness.

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  • Arthur Carroll

    I began to have mood swings in 1956. At first it happened 1 or 2 times a year. As time went by the mood swings became more frequent and stronger. In 1994 I was committted to a mental hospital and placed on various medicine . At first prozac and later lithuim and then others. After being under a doctors care we finally learned that my system was void of certain vitamins and I needed a mild sediment to relax me to help me to sleep. I am 73 now and my mood swings started in 1956. As long as I take my sediment each night I am great but without the meds I don’t sleep but 2 to 3 hours. And I am diligent to take my vitamins.

  • Anan E. Maus

    If God chooses to bring us low in spirit, then He chooses to do so. The great Catholic saint Brother Lawrence felt, for four full years, that he was condemned to hell!! Many of the disciples of St. Francis of Assisi went through enormous trials. Sufferings are part of the spiritual path.
    And if God chooses us to suffer, no pill, no therapy is going to change that decree.
    The suffering exists for His purpose and is not something that mere science can codify and understand.
    As Ben Franklin, one of the greatest scientists in history said, “God cures and physicians take the credit.” All the power is in God’s hands.
    So, if God has called us to suffering, we can call it by the modern name of “depression” or any other term, but its primary cause can be spiritual.
    That does not mean that God does not call upon us to work hard to conquer our problems. So, I certainly believe in using psychotherapy and modern methodology to aid our journey towards recovery. But if we do conquer our problems, it is because God has decided that they end, not because science has figured out the “disease.” And if we remain depressed, it may have nothing to do with our effort, but simply that God has chosen that we experience a spiritual suffering, to prove our faith and devotion to Him, not only in good times, but in bad times as well.
    Science will never understand the “Dark night of the soul” or what St. John of the Cross was writing about. Science will never understand the soul.

  • Erin

    I’ve experienced something similar to this in college. Both of my roommates were very religious and strong in their faith. However, when I was battling depression over a family illness and a relationship split, they proceeded to ignore me. When I asked them why, they said the best thing they could do was pray for me and stay out of the situation because they believed that I had strayed and God was punishing me. Not exactly the best thing you want to hear when you’re depressed..but nonetheless, I won’t be living with them next semester.

  • Anonymous

    i think this is an important place to start.. but only a starting point. i’ve been struggling with my illness since i showed up at the church i go to – but i’ve also been active in the church and made meals for others in times of need – at one point it got really really bad and my pastor knew that it was bad. i never once got a call from my deacon for offers for meals or helping around my house – even after i expressed to my pastor that i needed some help. recently one of our congregants got diagnosed with cancer. she is going through chemo and radiation. the church jumped to action to bring her meals, finish work on their home that they’ve been doing, etc.. while i’m glad that she got the support she needed from the church congregation, it would have been nice if my request for help – even a meal or two – had been followed up on. maybe i shouldn’t attribute this to the fact that my illness is a mental illness vs cancer, but i can’t help but make that connection based on the stigmas that mental illness faces in society.
    i know this comment sounds bitter, and it is. i am bitter about the differences in how people are treated. i’m lucky though – while i go to a presbyterian (pcusa) church, my dearest friends are all mormon (i live in utah). when i told them i needed help they showed up – it briefly made me think maybe i should convert. i won’t, but i appreciated the selflessness among my lds friends.
    sorry i posted this anonymously.

  • Todd

    Grieving is a process, examples in the bible vary from David to Abraham. I had a brother who’s life was taken through some tragic circumstances, and the process took six years for my family and myself. This type of loss has the the hurt , anger (why did you let this happen God?), guilt (what could I have done different?) are just a few. Prayer AS WELL as professional counseling is the best combination especially early on say the first two to three years.
    I was a tough athletic kid and young man with many scars and wounds from sports and hard physical labor.
    The scars are reminders of ther hurt, but the living tissue underneath is proof of the healing.
    It is selfish for us to believe that people are better off in our company than God himself, who is the author of life anyway.
    I am confident in the fact that my brothers salvation is the work of Christ and not himself.
    God’s gift of grace surpasses religiousity as well as karma, and that gift guarantees eternal peace.
    I can only praise God for my brother’s eternal peace and his life in eternity.

  • Mary

    From your post and some of the comments, there seems to be a common thread. There are some churches who just don’t accept reality and rely on old, dreary theology such as everything we feel is because we have sinned. Or, that God wants us to suffer and no medicine will help. Oh, please! Unless they open their minds (and in some cases, their bibles), they are just going to continue on this ridiculous path. Why do these people who know so little think they know so much? I’m glad you walked out on one such useless waste of time. I have belonged to the same church since I started having symptoms. There have been 5 different pastors in that time. The first two didn’t know much about depression so they came to my house to talk to me and learn about what I was going through. The third had a daughter who suffered from mental problems and was very educated about them. The other two already knew a lot about the subject. All of them have given sermons about educating yourself on the problems and treatments, counseled personally and gave references to professionals, asked for prayers for their suffering “flock”, and formed groups for anyone who had any kind of problem. This has covered almost 40 years. How nice to know that a minister would go out of his or her own way to continue to learn how to help people in need.

  • Premissa

    Maybe my comment is more therapeutic than anything.
    I have worked in the Human Services Fields, like mental health, foster care, substance abuse, corrections, etc for over 15 years, and I have seen my share of pain and confusion. The one thing that I have noticed is that if the person who is serving the people are hurt, breached, or uneducated themselves through “books” and experience, then the person being served suffers more and never gets the help they truly need. I have found that many people who “serve” people, whether it is in the Church or other areas, try to “serve” based on their own beliefs and sterotypes, and not based on what the person believes or really needs. Humility is the key.
    If a person needs help, then help them. It is not for you or me to determine what that help “looks” like. It is only for us to be a conduit of “right” and “realistic” knowledge and information that best fits that person’s life, belief system, and needs.
    I am a firm believer in more training and development of leaders in the religious sector in many areas, especially the areas of domestic violence, substance abuse, mental health issues, and most importantly, interactive characteristics, such as friendliness, communication, teamwork, and conflict resolution. It is needed, and our soon to be exited Church’s will demonstrate that.
    Christianity or Spirituality or Religion, what ever you called it, is meant to be “lived”.
    Grow in Grace

  • Emily J.

    I found this very helpful to know that you can still be depressed and be a christian, but how do I console myself to the idea that God wants me to be this way and does not help me as much as I think he should. Why would he want his people so miserable that they would rather die than spend another day on earth.

  • Baylor Mom

    I used to attend a baptist church. I was very active in the youth group and in the young adults department for a number of years. I, also, took it upon myself to do what needed to be done for others, give money, time or food, etc. When I lost my mother in law (my best friend in the world), then my dad, I felt my world starting to crumble all around me. My boss was going through a divorce and left the load of his stress on my desk. I finally fell into a dark abyss that I couldn’t seem to come out of. Those closest to me knew what I was going through, even my church family and my own mother. No one knew what to do. No one called. No one came by. No one offered to bring me food so I didn’t have to cook for my family. No one! It took me months of therapy and trying different medications to finally come out of the darkness. For those of you who seem to think that I had sinned or lost my faith, think again. I begged God to show me what to do because I didn’t know how to help myself. I know He allowed me to go through this for a reason – to help others around me – in my church, in my work place and in my home. We all need to be lifted up at one time or another. We just need our ‘church body’ to recognize that this is an illness – a real form of suffering unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I’m glad I went through this because I can help others who suffered as I did.

  • Ruth

    In my early twenties, I had a major depressive, anxiety breakdown. As a born again christian, I couldn’t understand how that could happen to me. I promised God I would do better and gave up two things I dearly loved, dancing and movies. I worked at a Christian camp and led people to the lord, but I was sinking deeper and deeper into suicidal depression. I talked to some of my Christian leaders and was told that it was a faith matter and not psychological. Two missionaries were convinced I was demon possessed and did an “exorcism” which led me to deeper depression. I will give them credit in that they told me to talk to my doctor who then led me to a Christian psychologist who helped me break free from a rigid view of Christianity and other family issues. That was 50 years ago. I still have times of struggles and even thoughts of suicide, but thanks to a jewish psychologist, I am continuing on.

  • JoAnn

    I have suffered with clinical depression off and on (mostly on!) since at least high school (25+ years). My church is a spirit-filled, yet BIBLE-based church that mostly has a very balanced and powerful faith and message, but even though they’ve offered courses in relationships and general Christian counseling (“know yourself and know others better” kind of stuff), I’m feeling more and more on my own. They used to have a “care group” system that, unfortunately because of some leadership abuses in the past and the resulting wounds it left in much of the congregation, got dumped completely when the founding pastors retired. I used to have someone I could talk to who, though a lay person, was there for me and who would take concerns up as needed. In “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” I’ve been struggling pretty much non-stop the last 10 years with the darkness closing in. Medication can and does expand my little circle of protection from being completely overwhelmed by the darkness, although I can still feel it around me, but counseling without a REAL religious backbone (just telling me that he knows I get some comfort from my faith, and stuff like that doesn’t address the spiritual part of the problem!) has done me little good. I even went through Cleansing Streams (a deliverance ministry) and went to a retreat, but many problems (from the beginning of the retreat to during and just after) robbed me of what benefit I had received there, so it ended up being a waste of money. And then, there are the (very few) times when I really have a good day and am enjoying myself too much, and someone at the church makes a comment such as that I “have too much serotonin,” or just uses my good mood as an opportunity to “talk to” me about something, and those glimmers of giddy joy or contentment are snuffed out like a candle after a wedding. I have a huge ache in my soul, and cannot find a way to heal it, and the church just pays minimal lip service to my pleas for help. I feel so alone in all of this, but this article says that probably a good 100+ of the 500-600 MEMBERS (not just “attendees”) are probably also suffering, most of them probably with depression — so am *I* the only one who can’t tap into the help stream, whatever it is?!?! Or are there so many like me, putting a mask of “I’m okay” on for church services and then taking it off at home (because it’s too exhausting to wear for long)?

  • Viqueen

    After moving from the city to a small rural community for a good job, I was impressed with how nearly everyone attended church, and is involved in their community.
    But if I or anyone mentioned depression, personality disorders, mental health challenges of any sort, the conversaion shut down; except for 1 person whose brother suffers. My entire family has mental health challenges, in part due to – – – avoidance.
    What I experience is that public stigma is so dramatic, so condemning, very few dare expose their feelings helplessness. (God forbid that we ask for the help we need from humans.) I’d like to see mental health addressed from the pulpit, and often. Removing the shame of seeking help, even choosing help outside of the church needs to be encouraged. My well-meaning neighbor, a lay minister tries to understand others’ depression, but is unschooled in mental health principals. At least he believes in mental health therapy and counseling, but he doesn’t understand how many choices there really are.
    Until the church de-stigmatizes the shame, there won’t be a lot of progress. Just ask Rosalyn Carter, the first voice for mental health care. She recently declared on “The Daily Show” that she’s seen no significant progress since she started her campaign in 1971.
    I am sad for the whole when I think of the condemnation felt by depressed and anxious people. We are missing out on their very best qualities and the world is poorer because of it.
    Thank you Therese for all you do to promote mental health for all.

  • Shelley O.

    This has taken a long time to get to this way of thinking. This works for me but many will disagree with me on this subject. After 23 years I have resigned myself that I have an illness (depression) that is continuous. Meds and counseling have helped but are not the end all. I struggled with my faith and still do at times. God is there for everyone but me. God allowed this to happen to me. Why?
    I try to see this can be a gift to be able to help and serve others who battle with mental illness. I no longer hide it. This can be a way to remove some of the stigma of mental illness. When I am doing better, I am very vocal and try to make others understand it is an illness.
    As sad as it sounds and THIS IS NOT A REASON for suicide, those who do take their life have not turned away from God but have now found the peace they so desperately needed. In this way I can help console families with that event.
    I am Catholic also. I believe my suffering can be a service. I can help those in purgatory get in to heaven or reduce the suffering of others here on earth since I believe we are all connected through the Communion of Saints. Once I came to this conclusion, I can now get through the times of suicidal thoughts and ask for the help I need. Works for me.

  • Don L. Robbins

    AMEN to everyones comments above!!! I have suffered from severe anxiety and panic attacks for about eight years now. I have tried everything on my own to find a remedy. However, that has been much of the problem! I lacked enough faith to give it to Jesus!
    I contacted government and drug company studies for anxiety, panic attacks, depression and insomnia (most times they are all together), to only be told I was already on too many meds. I have been annointed with oil and prayed for many times, to only wonder why God had abandoned me. I even self-commited myself to the physiciatric ward twice, only to be told no one would prescribe the meds I needed on the outside at the level I needed. I discovered that beer helped but that cost me seven and a half months in jail. It is not the answer either because I have had two bleeding ulcers, acid reflux, Barrett’s syndrome and don’t want to make myself sicker or spend more time there! However sometimes, it was all I thought I had.
    Jesus has always put me where he needed me and has never left me! He saved me from suicide twice in jail and opened my eyes. THE LAST EIGHT YEARS HAVE BEEN HELL, BUT NOT AN ETERNITY! I never imagined I would go that far and never had looked at it that way before! I will not risk it again, because he might not save me a third time! While I was there I read the Bible four times and each time I prayed for guiduance he showed me exactly what I needed to read! I was on suicide watch for three months, which is no more than a single cell with a metal bunk, a plastic mattress and a padded smock. By the time I left I had begun calling it Suite A1-3! I was thankful for him getting my attention and showing me what I needed to know!
    People need to be educated about mental illness because it is ignorance that keeps us there! Not only our own, but others as well. Like everyone else who has a mental illness I am embarrassed and found it hard to step forward. However, through all this I now only have one quarter my previous anxiety level, was able to witness to many people in jail and am much stronger than I was before! I am now trying to educate the Courts, Probation and anyone else who will listen. I might end up back in jail but I don’t care because it will all be for Jesus!
    I hope and pray that my testimony then and now has helped others, who are seeking answers! I understand what Jesus went through, not only in life but on the cross. He told us to take up our cross and follow him. We all have crosses to bear and who is to say if ours is worse than someone elses. I now believe they are all the same! He was sent here to suffer with us and help. That is my goal now as well!

  • a friend

    everyone with emotional issues should pick up the book “Your Miracle Brain”. it gets into nutritional support for your brain with supplements. many people are shortchanged on nutrients by our western diet and find major relief just by simple additions to what they ingest. Another good book- “the crazymakers” – an expose of the fast food industry and how they poison our brains with toxic pseudofoods that make the brain feel messed up. there areplenty more books available at health food stores that reveal how poisoned our food supply is and makes us feel emotionally unwell. another fantastic resource online is by a cutting edge doctor who has great exposees on the food and drug industries and many solutions to mental and brain health isssues. loook these resources up and you just might be amazed you can feel good again!!

  • no name

    I have anxiety disorder and depression. I am married to a clergy. One of my therapist actually said you don’t seem too religious. I felt like and sometimes still feel like if I was more religious, I wouldn’t have these conditions. My own husband tells me not to mess around with those psychiatrist. I’ve had people tell me just give it to God. The Bible says do not be anxious for I am always with you. Do people think that I haven’t asked for God’s help. I have given my problems to God, the same one over and over and over again. I know God is with me and it does comfort me but it doesn’t take the anxiety and depression away.

  • Mary S

    I’ve been on anti-depressants since 1985 and have been in long-term counseling on two occasions. At the very end, the second counselor said, “I don’t get it, you’ve done all the work, but you’re not better.” That was 4 years after I started the whole process. Needless to say I was frustrated and resigned to the fact that I’ll never be better.
    I recently picked up the book THE POWER OF NOW by Eckhart Tolle and found what it had to say very freeing. The book is not an easy read – many times I have to read slowly and more than once, but the knowledge just rings true like something you’ve always known but somehow forgot. I now work on living in the Now [what that means exactly is explained in the book]. When I consciously do this, I feel free and for the first time I am encouraged that I can actually get out of the trench I’ve been dragging myself though for forever. I hope this helps even just one person. I understand how heavy the burden is.

  • Barbie

    I believe that my depression and anxiety came from many years of drowning my problems in a bottle. By the Grace of God, I hvve been sober for 4 years.I feel that once I decided to turn my life around that I still carried some of my old behaviors from my past. I have found that recieveing the word of God from my pastor each week reveals a new beginning in my struggle with past issues. I have come to realize that I am quite a extrordinary person with so much to offer to others who stuggle with similar objections.I do still have struggles from time to time, but, I handle them differently. It amazes me when I am feeling a certain way, I can go to Church and it is as if God had intended the service just for me. It brings such joyous tears and comfort knowing that he is listening to my every thought. I am so blessed. For myself, finding the right Church is very important. When My pastor translates the Bible in a way that I can understand, It makes an amazing difference!
    Redeemed and Grateful!

  • Richard

    That’s mental illness, how about good ol fashion loneliness.

  • Veronica

    I agree, Richard with all due respect to the blog… how about good ol fashion loneliness ???

  • Bucky Moore

    My spirit is hurting with you, I had a 25-year-mile stone on May 19, 2010, with Gods grace and mercy, right on about group suipport, (mine is AA), most important is good qualify drs of psychology/psychristy, they are invaluable. I found out I too have a chemical embalance alaong with a spiritual malady. you are not that far off “the beam” seek out professional help for your chemical embalance, God will direct you to good care providers. Gods speed to a hurting spirit. I WILL CONTINUE TO LIFT YOU UP! Bucky Moore (620) 202-1439

  • http://Fear Dannie

    When I read this article, I felt a huge exhale come out of my body. I have never been able to accept or address the pain that lives inside of me. I have tried to mask it in many ways; alcohol, men, faith. I have been a victim of many things, broken home, mentally ill mother, a battered wife, a brother that committed suicide, abandoned by my father and now two of my children have been diagnosed with mental illnesses. My “ex” left me after 15 years of marriage for a 16 year old chineese girl that he found in Shanghai on a business trip. But even in that marriage, I could not feel relief from the pain that lived inside of me, and all though I have been successful in my career and from all appearances, no one would ever know that this still eats away at me. I am my own victim. A victim of surcumstance and a victim of choice. Now that I embark on the age of wisdom, soon to be 50 years old, I realize that it truly was the choices that I made in the people that I let into my life that brought these pains. All the praying that I did could bring me solace but it couldn’t take away the pain.
    There are so many things that I want to do with this new found knowledge….mostly I just want to say “Keep the Faith” because as my spiritual growth has become a stronger comittment and not just prayer, I have become more discerning about who get’s to be in my circle of love. Pastors, Priests and Ministers don’t address this because it is too “honest” and might push away those with deep pockets. They want us to live in fear of loss, but as I have given up fear, I have gained faith. I still feel the fear/pain come upon me from time to time, but it doesn’t control me anymore. Have “Faith not Fear” is something that I say to myself often.

  • Mary

    I agree with Richard and Veronica…pure old fashioned loneliness is a very difficult thing to live with. I lost my husband of 40 years, 4 years ago and I still cannot funciton with him! I attend church regulary…the pastor and others “try” to help, but most of them don’t know what to say to me… “why haven’t I gotten over this?” Some even think loneliness is a mental illness…I don’t know that I agree with that…sometimes it maybe feels like I might be mentally ill because I haven’t been able to move on, but, please help those of us who are just plain ‘lonely’!

  • RoseMarie Burke

    hi all I am new to this website. I read stories and go to it daily. FOR ANSWERS IN MY life. Thank you Bucky Moore and Dannie for todays message . I am currently a recovering addict going on 16 yeears of RECOVERY in June. Well, I am having this battle within and I have been widoswd for the past 2 1/2 yrs. I have moved to a new place 1 1/2 yrs ago. Starting over. I am very sad and hurting and nothing seems to be working. I stay close to God and my Faith, still I hurt like NEVER before. In therapy many years. I too have acted out with men and finally said ENOUGH. I was dying little by little inside. Pieces of my Soul and me were going away. I have made some life altering decisions. I have no one, I live alone. I do everything ALONE. It hurts alot. Can’t trust too many and EVERYONE BAILED on me.I am FACING some things and need more support. For now I just do nothing rether then something I will regret. I am a mom of 2 grown adult children and grandmother of 2 soon to be 3. I have chosen another path and that is one with God, I have re dedicated my life to him. I have been going through alot lately and no REAL support or friends. I am angry too. My daughter is in another state, not california with my 2 small grand daughters. Please give any suggestion that you think would encourage and help me. Thanks RoseMarie

  • MamaSama in Michigan

    This thread is making sense to me. I am friendly, kind and smart – but am having a hard time making new friends. AS a result, this loneliness is taking it’s toll on my mental health, self-worth etc.
    How do you make new friends in a city that isn’t always very warming to outsiders? When I was married, we HAD friends but now that I am not a part of a ‘couple’ it is difficult. Who has suggestions for this, other than the Singles Group at the church?

  • http://MamaSama Sherry

    I know exactly what you are going through. I moved “here” 20 years ago, I was married to a man who’s work took him “away” all week. I knew no one! I have no “family” here, and it was hard to say the least. Outsiders were not welcome back then, they were polite but not friendly. And since I didn’t have children there was not that thread that could tie you into social gatherings such as sports.
    My husband of 19 years came home one day and said he was leaving, took me by total surprise! That was 6 years ago. I have made some friends over the last 20 years, but not one of them is “close”, guess you could say they are more like “aquaintences” since I don’t get invited to their homes or out to lunch.
    My “best friend” passed away in 93 and I thought I would die. We had the strangest relationship, I compare it to “twins”, we would finish each others sentenances, knew when he phone wrang it was “her” on the other end. Since that time I have felt this “empty hole in my soul”. I know how lonely life can be. I still am not sure how to fill that void. I guess joining someting is the key, but I also know, being over 50 and living in an area where some people have never “left town” and are dead set in their ways makes it hard.
    I wish you the best. As for me, I’m in therapy and I hope somehow this will help me be a better person so that I can “attract” friendship from others.

  • JoAnne

    To MammaSama and Rosemarie… I will never forget when I felt hopelessly alone. My heart breaks for you…
    When I was there, I joined a very friendly church. It was a Bible based church where the congregation was taught to offer people unconditional love, acceptance and forgiveness… and where the church leadership practiced what it preached.
    For some time, I simply attended services, and God began a healing process. But real change came when I joined one of the adult Sunday School classes and volunteered to serve the church, I think as a greeter at first.
    It was then that the people I met became family and God’s hands extended.
    To make friends… be friendly. I know it’s really hard… but it’s really worth doing.
    God Bless you.

  • Louise

    Boy Howie…do I know What you Ladies are talking about….
    Loneliness and hopelessness.
    I moved to Maine from California, I get asked why did you do that,
    Futunately I have Family here in Maine. Fisrt off I needed to move for the fact that I’m a recovering drug addict and I need to save my own life.I was a resident of Ca. for 38+ years and the last 15 of those years I spent High. I have grown Kids and four grandchildren.
    Since moving here I have regained a relationship with my kids and
    and G-Children.
    I have visited Ca.several times and it is hard to stay away from my
    dear but still using friends.I miss them dearly and there is not a day goes by that I wish that they were here with me,so that they can have a better life being clean.
    Now that I’m here I have monies to go and visit and do things that I
    was always to broke to do.
    It’s taken this whole six years to be accepted into my community.
    But,I truly believe it came when I decided to truly live here,instead of holding my breath for the summer time when I went to visit my kids.
    I got involved in volunteer work and going to the YMCA to excercise.
    Joined a depression support group,now I facilitate a group myself.
    While i’ve been busy being of service to others.
    I have found myself in the middle of clutch of Quaity Friends.
    That I can hardly wait to see and spend my time with.
    This the first Summer that I will be staying here in Maine and not miss much as I would have any other year,don’t get me wrong I’ll miss my
    Grand-children,but there is next year.I am a much Happier Person today.
    Reaching out is how I solved my being alone,as I gave I recieved.

  • Sherl in Florida

    Hello to all those that have responded to the message today. I was just seating at my desk reading these responses and become so overwhelmed knowing that there are people out there that feel like me. I am a very spiritual person and have ready struggled finding friends. The last 6 years have been the most loneliest of times for me. I moved to Florida 10 years ago but up until 6 years ago my life was so busy that I hardly noticed that I was not making friends. I am a single parent that worked hard going to school to earn my BA degree to provide a better life for my son. But when I graduated 5 years ago I realized that I lacked a close connection to people(Friends). I too had aquaintences but no really close friends. I felt like such an outsider in my neighborhood, at work, and in church. I got so depressed over the last 6 months that I decided to pursue therapy. I am learning how to allow God to give me internal peace and allow him to heal me from my past hurts and fears. I am learning to yield myself to the well of God and allow him to place good people in my life. Combining therapy and my faith is allowing me the growth that I need to have peace and learn about myself. I still have some lonely days and some feelings of emptibness but I beleive that God is walking with me and preparing me for something great. So hang in there and know that you are not alone.
    May you feel God’s love in those times of loneliness

  • clare

    Thanks for addressing this. One of the reasons I stopped going to church was because I did feel very “judged” with an eating disorder and mental issues surrounding that. I was actually teased by a Pastor in front of others. There seemed to be this underlying tone that I just wasn’t “trying” hard enough to “get over it” and that it was all just a huge “sin.” Since I left regular church, I thankfully took the time to “be still and know” and have grown immensly closer with God, but I yearned for a supportive flock. I have found it through groups of Christian friends and prayer chains and women’s Bible study groups, but not regular “church.” That’s the short version of my story and I am hopeful that churches will really move to recognize mental and mood issues and support the faithful who deal with them!

  • Louise

    I agree wholeheartedly with Therese when she says that expecting pastors to heal mental health issues is analogous to expeciting them to do bypass surgery! Mental illness, like physical illness takes a lot more that just prayer and faith to deal with. If you or your child was a diabetic, I’ll wager you wouldn’t stop the medicine and just pray. So why would you expect to do this with mental illness.
    Also mental illness, like physical illnes, needs more training and education to deal with than just prayer and faith. That’s where the church needs to start: to accept that God doesn’t work just through the church to heal mental illness any more than He does with physical illness. It takes trained and educated individuals to do both jobs. If I seem to be repeating myself it’s because I’ve had enough of pastors saying that going to any other source than the church “leads to hell”. I’ve had much more help and made much more progress going to “secular” counsellors than I’ve had with all the pastors I’ve known combined! Oh, a couple of the “secular” counsellors and a psychiatrist I’ve seen weren’t very good. BUT, the psychiatrist and counsellor I now see are both Christians, as are the ladies at my local mental health office who conduct the very helpful and enlightening classes! They do recognize that you can turn to a “Higher Power”, but they leave that to the client’s personal choice.
    If only the church would respect their congregant’s personal choice in mental health care just as they would resepct the person’s choice in physical health care practioners! To do otherwise could be just as dangerous as expecting someone to rely on prayer rather than insulin. After all, who is any pastor – or anyone for that matter – to tell God whom He can and can’t work through. We know He works through doctors for our physical health needs, so why wouldn’t he work through others for the mental health needs!

  • Louise

    A Postscript to my previous comment:
    Pastors and preists also need to accept that not all mental health issues stem from choices and sin. There is proof – and you can find it on the web – that mental health issues are organic in nature. IE: Mental illness can stem from things such as chemical imbalances in the body, misfiring brain waves, side effects from medications or nutrient difficiencies to name a few. It’s no different than the way physical ailments can be psychosomatic.
    I once had suicidal tendencies that were caused by a medication I was taking. They stopped as soon as I went off the medication on my doctor’s advice.
    The key is what Therese said: GET EDUCATED!!

  • Sammijo

    I am very much both of the above. It sounds like there are a lot of us out there, just wish I could reach out and hug (and be hugged) by each and every one of you. My situation is similar to CA to Maine! however, I didn’t move to family, I moved away from family. The economy has hurt my life so much. I relocated to a different state, leaving everything and everyone behind to make life better for my daughter and I! i moved to a great job, but finding myself pineing away over everything I left, my parents, my fiance my friends. I find myself a sort of prisoner in my own home which scares me to death because I had these feelings when I was married to my ex-thing. I think part of that is why I am suffering so much, it is emotional terror that I just can’t get past. My new church family doesn’t replace my family but they are trying to help and i love them for that! I just wish the baggage would go away! and i could stop hurting and suffering so much.

  • T Jackson

    This is an interesting website. Your comments have been helpful. I think people (whomever defined mental illness universally) need to revisit the definition. Because of the negative impact it has on individual classified as mentally ill and those who deal with those classified as mentally ill. I am dealing with some issues of the mind which includes attempted suicide. I probably would have succeeded if my daughter had not come home when she did. It resulted in me being hospitalized in a mental health facility that did not help. I did not receive a pschycialogical evaluation after being their for 7 days. I do not have medical insurance. I really need help so that I can get better. Can someone give me some direction on how I can get help. I am so embarrased and it has affected my relationship with my daughter and newphews who I love dearly. I us to be the strong one – always assisting others. I would like to find a medical and psych doctor that would be willing to use my case as a research study to be able to help others. It seems that the current mental health services is used for others to make money and the patient just gets doped up and more depressed. Any positive suggestions are welcome. May God bless us all.

  • Sara

    Hello….I have read with much interest the article as well as your comments. I have so appreciated your comments and, as a pastor, will take them to heart and implement a lot of them. I myself live with bipolar disorder. I went to seminary as a “second career” person so I do know what it is like to be in the pew and live with mental illness and now be on the other side….well, there is a whole new view. Somehow being a pastor is often times equated with being next to God or at least God like so anything that is perceived as a deficit is not looked upon very kindly. I have worked at educating staff and council persons and even bishops that I work with. It is a long, difficult road. I have been disappointed and disillusioned by many person whom I thought would at least try to understand bipolar disorder as a mental illness, yes, but also as a physical illness. Somehow the majority of “colleagues” I have worked with would prefer to believe that mental illness only sits out in the pew and is not found behind the pulpit. I am saddened by the lack of empathy and effort to understand that no matter where you sit, mental illness can and is present.
    Thank you to you all……your thoughts have been an encouragement to my day…….Blessings to you all, Sara

  • melaine keath

    I know how you guys feel.I congratulate you guys for going to school and getting a great job to provide for your family. my husband left me over 10 years ago after he filed bankrupcy. I am still putting the pieces back together. he is already remarried and helping raise her two children. qI dont feel that they treat my children right. what can you do But since I have gotten closer to God my life is a lot easier and everything just falls into place.I know that Gods watching over me and my children.

  • kathy in florida


  • Miller

    These “christians” are in the dark ages…what they espouse as a cure is really a form of “magic.” By their insensitive nature, they have actually repelled me.

  • Susie

    My heart goes out to each and everyone of you. I know how churches can be, I don’t like to admit this but my church is filled with there own little clicks. It doesn’t bother me because I go there to worship and pray to God. I also do my best to help out wherever needed.
    You have to try and not take it personal, its all in education and so many people are not educated in that field. We just have to believe and have hope.

  • Di

    I don’t think it is for the church to make efforts to be specific for those of us who are depressed and/or bipolar. I am diagnosed bipolar, though I strongly believe that God has called me to be “emotionally intense” and it’s just that many many others cannot interpret me in a manner that “fits” or is comfortable. I only believe and know in my heart, deeply in my heart that church people must not judge anyone amongst them, whether a person is colorful or black and white. Each one of us is made from a mold with the DNA of the Almighty Jesus Christ within us. We are all begot by someone who is begot by someone…follow the tree…
    Ultimately, I am a prisoner of my medication, and until big pharma gets it “right” I patiently await my release. I know that without chemical assistance I would not be alive, to save my own soul. It has nothing to do with God when a person is so low that he/she loses sight of life. Would that make confusion a sin?

  • Latricia

    I absolutely understand where you are coming from. Its very frustrating to question your soul because someone wants to blame it away as sin. If anything, it only makes what your going through worse. What makes it twice as hard is when that pastor or devotional writer happens to be a parent who can’t open themselves up to any other possibility. IF you can’t discuss this sensitive subject from the pulpit, or feel uncomfortable bringing it to your pastor or priest, how are you supposed to be comfortable in a professional setting? God himself is the only one who knows how many people are fighting this battle alone. Its time we let our “church” family know and understand how important this subject is and I thank you for being so bold as to share it with others. Latricia

  • andrea

    Many people don’t understand how depression. Don’t don’t understand how deep it can really be. You can’t blame others’ because they can’t relate to your illness. Can you relate to everybody else’s? People are using their prejudice against the church to blame the church for things that aren’t their fault.

  • Sharon

    If someone has a problem and doesn’t feel they can turn to their church then where can they turn? I believe and I have hope but sometimes that’s just not enough – yes I suffer from depression! Thank God I have my church in particular my pastor – there are times when I can’t pray or feel my prayers aren’t heard so I contact my pastor and they pray for me. If you don’t feel comfortable in talking to your pastor then find one you can. God Bless!!!

  • timothy

    my brother took his own life about 2 1/2 yrs ago also and i am just at a misunderstanding with this whole world. i lost my D.L. and i am so trapped i just sit around self medicating. my friends who used to employ me don’t even bother to call or anything. i am about to become homeless. i am a priest and God speaks to me though i don’t follow instruction very well. i am not a very humble man yet. i have no desire to even hurt my self so i am at a stand off with everything this world has to offer. God keeps telling me to preach but i don’t know of anyplace that would want or need a recovering drug abuser and alcoholic. i bied my time until i find the ones who need me the most. i know from way too much past experience with drugs and alcohol how to really help people who are so desperate they just want to end their own life. many of my friends have my mother passed away in 2002 from alcohol and all i could is pray to God to take her sober!!! she was on life support for 11 days and when the dr.s took her off life support she went to God. yes all of my prayers have been answered though i don’t care to much for my self i love helping others. its who i am and what i was created for.
    Love Timothy K.

  • windyblue

    My comment is going to come from personal experience. Never, Never, tell anyone about your problems in church, not even in the Sunday morning service. I have done this and OH, have I regreted it. It was horrible. In churches there are people whom are higher up on the WE CARE LIST than others. I am not even on the ladder. Ilearned the hard way, Even when I need finanical help, the Pastor Oh, he got totally angry and told me that “The church could not help me”. Oh, I went to the finanical chairperson, and that was worse, ya I got the money, but I paided dearly for itin more ways than one. I will never ask again. I was well on my way to being hated.
    Oh, many others have asked for help money wise, but they where on the “I care List”. One of the big somebodies in the church those people are in every church. And many other things they needed OH the church was right there for them, Me forget it. I learned the hard way. Now mental problems ya, I have them but Never would I ever tell anyone in church. I keep that to my self as my prayer requests now to.
    I do not ever ask. I just keep it between me and the Lord.
    Also Never tell your friends about mental problems please, you will regret that too. Get help from a professional, and tell them.
    And tell the LORD, he cares the most.
    Do not go to support groups in the church, forget it they are not professional who know what to do, they are just regular people who have no education on such subjects.
    Me I have learned to keep to myself. People cannot read my mind. but I learned the hard way. Never again will I ever express anything. to the church members. They could careless anyway and I learned that to.

  • Ana

    This is such a good article, I have struggle with guilt about taking medications for anxiety attacks/panic attacks, was in a hospital mental floor for seven days, the psychictric said I was bipolar, and when I came out, I was told by some of my brothers and sisters in the faith things like, “if I had faith I didnt need medications” (but check out their medicine cabinets) or that it was a bad spirit that I “open door to by my actions” someone even said take them and dont tell anyone, and even that the word medications means witchcraft. I would stop it and feel terrible and go back to them and felt better, been in church for the last ten years, I feel like I can not be a good testimony for Jesus because I struggle with this issue. Im not bitter towards God, but Im towards the people that act as there is nothing wrong with them.

  • Penny

    Reading some of these post saddens me. Of all places to not feel compfortable should not be ur church. This is a place one should feel most at peace! There are plenty of churches out there. I would find one that did understand and I could talk about anything and everything! Windy Blue, I’m so sorry u have noone in ur life. While the the lord is good, u need friends to lean on in times of struggles. U too need to find another church that treats u as a person! For the preacher, I to am a recovering alcholic and addict, I hated myself, but learned to love myself again by getting honest and attending both church and AA! I dont think it’s possible to be able to give something away that u don’t have urself! I wish everyone less darkness and more light in ur lives! Have a blesses day!

  • Dean

    Your article is a good guideline for churches, and it is ashame that the church does not do a better job ministering to mental illness.

  • Sieed

    This is a good article and the ? is how does a Christian address this issue especially if they are going through depression. Because as Ana said we are taught differently on how we deal with struggles.I can be truthful I am almost bitter towards G-d for some of the things I have faced in my life.But being that I have trusted him.And know he wants the best for us!

  • Carla

    My faith was a healing part of my recovery as well, but I also came to see how the church I grew up in (where it was preached every week that we were somehow “bad” and had to repent and do all these things to prove that we had been converted) totally fueled my depression by causing me to doubt my heart and doubt everything about myself. My messed up belief system about who I was was fostered in the church I went to, and I’ve heard it preached in many other churches as well. I think one of the most important things churches can do is take a look at what they are teaching their congregations about who they are, about what it means to be human and what it truly means to love and be unconditionally loved by God.

  • Your Name MIKe

    Why are people wondering why churches cannot minister to mentally ill
    people? It is because they are ONLY people. They do not have any special power of faith even if they think that they do. They are a joke and mental illness is not a joke. They throw Bible verses around which do
    not help and that they, themselves, do not even understand. It is a sad
    thing but doctors are the best suited. It is an illness and God does not
    cure everything even if you think he does. Get real and face reality..Faith is not the answer, if it was we would not need hospitals or medicine.

  • Sieed

    Totaly not true to what Mike stated if you know anything about the Christian faith we know that church is just a building and the real church are the people the people that believe G-d and know that his word is true.We dont look to a person for healing.And hospitals are and a natural way of people seeking healing.But they don’t do the what is called heal G-d can only heal.



  • marion

    IF God is awake 24 hourw a day, 7 days a week, 365 day a year and He has me in the palm of His Hand; how can I be lonely or depressed. Whenever, I see only one set of footprints in the sand, I know beyond a shadow of doubt that God is carrying me through the trials and tribulations in my life. And, when God closes doors He opens windows. I just pray that there is a door by that window so I don’t fall out of a 2-story window. My late husband had many EKG’s done. It is a machine that checks on things that the heart is doing. Without the highs and the lows in life, how would we draw closer to the Lord and that we needed God in our life. If it was a straight line then we would all be in trouble because we are about to meet our creator. This is my faith and my philsophy in life

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