Friday, June 29, 2012

Thoughts on Non-medical Ways to Handle Depression

"He brought them out of darkness and deepest gloom and broke away their chains" (Psalm 107:14).

This is not a typical devotional but I wanted to share this information.  Chronic health problems and life struggles in general can trigger depression, whether it's sporadic or ongoing.   I struggle with depression on a regular basis and am unable to take medication for it.  This has led me to continually seek God for other options in dealing with it.

Of course one of the biggest challenges with depression is that I don't feel like doing anything, so these suggestions do require that I make the effort even though I may not want to. But this is being obedient to God and He will reward the obedience. He never fails to bring comfort and help, although it may not always be immediate.

The plethora of books available on this subject can be overwhelming.  I believe the following suggestions are helping me in this battle, and I pray someone else may benefit from them as well.  Much of this information is taken from the book Depression:  Looking Up from the Stubborn Darkness, by Edward Welch.  Putting even one of these suggestions in to practice can bring some victory.

Possible Contributing Factors to Depression

1.     Circumstantial
2.     Chemical
3.     Emotional
4.     Physical
5.     Spiritual

How Depression Can Be for My Good

1.     Teaches me to take every thought captive.
2.     Increases my faith and teaches me that faith can exist without feelings –     feelings don’t define faith.
3.     Helps me focus on eternity.

Non-medical Suggestions for Depression

1.     Read certain Psalms (22, 130) out loud and claim them as my  own. Speaking Scripture is “doing” faith and it becomes evidence of Christ in me.

2.     Evaluate why I am depressed (causes at that time) and see what I am saying to myself and how Satan is attacking God through it.

3.     Remember I am in a battle.  Put on the armor every day and claim God’s love for me every day, whether I feel it or not (speak Ephesians 6 and Psalm 90). 

4.     Learn more about Jesus and imitate Him. I imitate Jesus by doing the next thing – whatever that is at the moment: serving others when I don’t feel like it, loving others when I don’t feel loved or feel hurt, angry, or rejected, not looking for self-oriented purposes but rather God-oriented ones.

5.     Humble myself before God – acknowledge He loves me, knows what’s best for me, and has good plans for my life.  Be on guard against self-pity and complaining.

6.     Acknowledge and confess my sin – a desire to be loved rather than love, selfishness, envy, discontent, lack of faith, etc. Pray for my heart to be free from theses sins.  Keep at my confession until I have inklings of joy and hope.

7.     Remember my purpose.  I am called, forgiven, adopted, given gifts, given a mission, given a future.

8.     When I think, “Why bother?” say “because of Jesus”.  Persevere in fighting depression because God persevered with me.

9.     Talk to my depression.  Fight it rather than listen to it.  Speak God’s truth to it.  I can’t always change the way I feel but I can change the way I think. If I am thinking lies, say, “STOP!”

10.  Realize how much I have already persevered, be encouraged by that, and articulate my purpose and hope.  Pray for the ability to see and believe there is contentment and even joy in long-term, small steps of faith and obedience.

11.  Identify any fears I may have at the moment.  Confess them as unbelief, examine Scripture, and be confident in the love and faithfulness of Jesus.

12.  Remember God created and called me to trust Him and let that trust express itself in loving others.  Ways I can love others even when depressed: thank them, greet them, pray for them, listen to them.

Prayer:  God, Your Word says I have divine power for anything I need for life and godliness (II Peter 1:3), and that includes battling depression and other problems.  Thank you that with You nothing is impossible.  Give me the strength to speak and act in Your power even when depressed.  Amen.

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