In recent weeks, I have been confronted with depression and the reality of how it can really destroy lives. The high profile suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain help shine a light on the worst outcomes that result from depression especially when left untreated for several years. In early June, a well known physician in West Monroe, LA (where I reside) also took his own life after dealing with depression for an extended period of time. In my role as a Christian pastor, I offer counseling and it is not uncommon for me to meet with people from all walks of life who are trying their best to manage their depression. Let me be clear, I am not in any way claiming to be an expert in diagnosing or treating depression. However, my hope is simply to bring more awareness to this subject that seems to be taboo and not given enough attention, until in many cases it is too late.
The mystery of depression is not that it exists but that it has become so prevalent in our society. So many of life’s challenges can weigh us down to the point of deep despair and hopelessness. I often say that it is okay not to be okay. We must be diligent in checking in on one another. Finding purpose and being with loved ones can sometimes mitigate depression but even that may not be enough. I do not have all of the answers but I do want to leave a few suggestions that are hopefully meaningful to those that need to read this the most.
- Pray. Prayer always works! But do not just stop with prayer. Allow God to lead you to people and resources that will help improve your mental health.
- Have open dialogue with your loved ones about how you feel. Communication is key.
- It’s okay to seek professional help. It’s not an indictment on your personal faith to seek Christian counseling (inside or outside of the church).
- Get on medication if it’s needed. Be compliant. Medication can help regulate your mood and help in other areas like alertness, appetite, and sleep habits.
- Physical exercise, reducing alcohol intake and avoiding substance abuse may help.
- If you’re a caregiver/family member/friend to someone dealing with depression, take time to research how you can help them manage their depression. In this way, you let the individual know that they are not in this alone.God bless!