God’s plan is not for you to be depressed. He wants you experiencing His joy no matter the circumstances of your life. Yet approximately 20 million people suffer from clinical depression feeling hopeless, listless and stuck. The voice of depression says you cannot move out of the darkness blanketing your life. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is much you can do to lift yourself out of that stuck place.
Some types of depression are caused by genetic/biological factors such as lack of sleep, lack of exercise, PMS, hormone changes related to giving birth, menopause, medication side-effects, poor diet or disease. Other depressions are rooted in psychological, cognitive, and spiritual causes like troubled family experience, stress over postmodern living, social inequities like poverty and abuse, loss, negative thinking, sin, unresolved hurt and anger and poor coping responses.
Whatever the cause, try these helps from my book, Getting Unstuck, to improve your mood and start living again:
- See a therapist to help identify your causes of depression.
- Acknowledge negative feelings of anger, unforgiveness or hurt. Don’t keep that negativity swimming around inside your body.
- Release those negative feelings through talking, praying and working through relationship problems.
- Forgive those who have wronged you (Colossians 3:13).
- Clean up any sin in your life. Acting in ways counter to God’s Word contributes to depression.
- Develop realistic expectations. Difficulty is part of life but God promises His presence (Hebrews 13:5).
- Change your negative thinking. Rehearse the promises of God (Psalm 91; Romans 8:38).
- Be around positive people. If negative thinkers bring you down, find those who experience joy in living and spend time with them.
- Get a physical to rule out any biological cause that may be treatable.
- Take care of your body by eating well, getting enough sleep and engaging in regular exercise.
- If antidepressant medication is needed, don’t feel stigmatized using it. It may be a healing agent.
- Don’t blame others for your problems.
- Know what triggers depression and learn new ways to respond.
- Be assertive when necessary.
- Manage your negative emotions. Don’t let them manage you.
- Do something for someone else. Take the focus off of you.
- Get support.
- Correct your self-image through the Word of God (Ps. 139:14; Eph. 2:10).
- Accept God’s love for you. It is unconditional (John 3:16).
- Trust in God, not circumstances or people (Philippians 4:19).
- Pray for healing (2Timothy 1:7).
- Renew your mind (Phil 4:8; Romans 12:2)
- Even if you don’t feel like it, take action (e.g., get out of bed, go to church).
- Get to know your heavenly Father. He wants to give you good things and bless you (Psalm 84:11).