Sara was not excited for the holidays due to an increase feeling of depression. She needed extra help to overcome this current depressive episode. Her antidepressant wasn’t working well enough to get her back on track. Therefore, Sara decided to try psychotherapy to better address her negative thoughts.

Depression is often prompted by negative beliefs and thoughts. It works like this. You believe that things will not get better, e.g., “It’s hopeless! Nothing will change. This pandemic will never allow normal life again. Consequently, your thoughts support these negative beliefs, e.g., So I might as well not try or even get out of bed.  No one cares if I show up or not. Then, these depressive thoughts lead to sad or depressed emotions, e.g., I feel so discouraged. I don’t want to go on.” Finally, those sad or depressed emotions lead to behavior that supports the depression, e.g., I am not getting out of bed. I won’t exercise or call a friend. And as a result, your perception of life is negative, which feeds into negative beliefs again.

This cycle goes round and round–negative beliefs lead to negative thoughts, which lead to negative feelings and then negative behavior, which reinforces a negative perception of the world. Somewhere in that cycle, you need intervention. Some people take antidepressants to help the negative feelings. Others work on their thought life and take medication. Still others, work on the negative cycle and make changes.

When you listen to the voice of depression in your head, you give the enemy a stronghold, an area of your life in which to defeat you. So we fight those negative thoughts, behave positively and renew our mind through the promises of God. Here is how to do this. It involves 7 steps:

  • Acknowledge the depression (Proverbs 12:25).
  • Trust in God to help you (Ps. 46:1).
  • Praise Him despite the circumstances (Ps 34:1).
  • Speak hope to into the situation (Ps. 39:7).
  • Renew your negative thoughts through the positive Word of God   (Phil. 4:8).
  • Take steps to correct your behavior. Take care of your body and get active. Make yourself do. Don’t wait to feel better. Act your way into feeling better.
  • Address the causes of the depression that deal with your thinking and relationships, e.g., deal with anger, settle family conflicts, resolve inappropriate guilt, forgive those who hurt you, etc.

Nothing is hopeless or impossible with God. Be encouraged. God’s Word gives us several examples of people struggling in the depths of despair -Moses, Job, Peter, the Israelites, Naomi, the prophet Jeremiah, David and even Elijah when he fled to the hills to escape Jezebel.

However, the most powerful example is Jesus: The night He grieved in the garden over His impending death, “…He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed” (Matt. 26:37). Jesus, confronted with despair and being all alone, responded by praying even more earnestly. He submitted to the will of the Father. As He was nailed to the cross, He thought of others. Facing death He was concerned that we be forgiven, that His mother was cared for and that the thief next to Him entered glory. What a model for us: Confront our darkest times, submit to the will of the Father, turn our attention to the needs of others, and praise God for the victory of the cross.

All of these steps are important in overcoming depression. Attacking negative beliefs, thoughts, emotions and behaviors will change your perception and help you function again. If you need medication to help with those feelings, take it. But work on the rest of this cycle–attacking hopeless beliefs, negative thoughts, and behavior. A full out approach to depression will make a difference.

If you need help, find a therapist who will coach you through these changes. The approach described is called Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). So look for someone trained in CBT who knows how to apply this model to depression. Above all, stay hopeful. We have many treatments to help with depression. CBT is only one of them that makes a difference.

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