Although I suffered from 4 years of deep depression, I tried to keep my pain from my family and friends. Only those closest to me knew of my extreme pain and despair. I even kept it from my children and it wasn’t until they were all grown up that I shared this dark time in my life.
I have also had friends that suffered from ongoing depression. But it wasn’t until I suffered from depression myself that I truly understood what they were going through.
First I would like to encourage you to read my article titled,Christians and Depression: Changing Your Negative Self Talk, to get a greater understanding of depression and what your friend and/or family member is dealing with.
Often times friends will try and talk their friends out of being depressed telling them things like, “It’s not that bad,”, “Everything will work out okay,” or “You shouldn’t be depressed.” Though they may sound supportive, statements like these don’t help your depressed friend or family member acknowledge and process their pain in a healthy way. It’s normal to have intense sadden for two or more years after the loss of a loved one. Therefore friends must give their depressed loved ones permission to grieve. I remember a well-meaning friend telling me, “You should be over it by now.” I replied by saying, “Well I’m not.”
It is not uncommon for friends and family members to pull away from someone who is depressed. Not knowing what to say, how to help, or fearing they’re going to make their friend feel worse are reasons many people stay away. It can be frustrating and later irritating being around someone who has been depressed for a long time and not knowing how to help.
According to John Preston, Psy.D. and author of You Can Beat Depression: A Guide to Recovery, below are steps you can take to help your depressed Christian friend or family member.
1.Learn as much as you can about depression. There are many good books for Christians that deal with depression.
2.Accept your depressed friend‘s feelings and don’t try and talk them out of it. Let them know you understand they are hurting and that you care. Know that you can provide support but you are not responsible for curing them.
3.Pray for your friend. Prayer can take many forms, from praying in silence to interceding on their behalf. There is power in prayer.
4.Don’t feel like it’s your job to try and cheer them up. Instead, acknowledge their pain and let them know you are there if they need you.
5.Share with them the article Christians Depression: Change Negative Self-Talk. There are tools that Christians can use to help relieve their depressed thoughts and mood.
6.Encourage them to make an appointment with a Christian counselor or mental health professional if their depression is not improving.
Many Christians have found relieve from depression through Christ-centered meditation and learning how to control their negative thinking. Encourage your Christian friend to learn more about Biblical meditation and how it can contribute to their healing or purchase a Christian Guided Meditation for them. The Christian Meditator provides many resources and information on how to deal with negative emotions like depression.