Family Ministry

advice, thoughts, and discussion

Feeling Down?

on October 1, 2012

I have a confession to make. I have some struggles, just like everyone else. One major struggle that I deal with is anxiety and depression. It’s not uncommon for me to still be in bed on a Saturday (or another morning that I don’t need to get up for work) and wish that I could just stay in bed all day. Now, I’m not talking about the occasional, “Oh, my bed feels so warm. I wish I could just snuggle up and read or watch movies all day.” I’m talking about, “I don’t think I can face this day. I have no energy. I feel hopeless.” And then, I feel guilty! For being so blessed in my life, for having it “so good” compared to so many others….and do you know what that leads to? You got it. More depression.

I’ve gone to counseling to try to “solve” my anxiety and depression. But I never have anything to talk about. I’ve tried to take medications as well. They just seem to make me gain weight! (Now, try to tell me that you wouldn’t get MORE depressed if you anti-depression medication was making you blow up like a balloon at a carnival.) Now, I’m not saying that these methods don’t work for people. I’m not even saying that they wouldn’t help me if I found a counselor that I connected to or was put on a different medication. What I’d like to talk about is how my depression and anxiety affects my marriage.

My husband is amazing. He listens to me cry for no reason, he’ll hug me when I get “that look” on my face, and he makes me get up and go on with my life…even when I feel like I can’t sometimes. But even the most compassionate and loving husband would get confused and frustrated when his wife is unhappy and lethargic for no reason. I decided to do some investigation about how I, and some of you out there can either help ourselves or help our spouses to cope with this illness. And how our marriage can thrive in the midst of it.

“Depression is a disease that can make marriage miserable. When one spouse is depressed, it affects both partners. It can rob emotional, spiritual and physical intimacy and drives both parties into isolation.

If your spouse is depressed, you might feel ignored, unimportant and frustrated. Maybe you wonder why your mate can’t just turn off the negativity and get on with life. If you’re the one who is depressed, perhaps you wish that your spouse would get off your back and you’re feeling trapped with little hope for recovery.”

We’ll look at a few points; depressed people feeling guilty, being married to a depressed spouse, and the weapon that depresses depression.

1- Let’s deal with one of the thoughts that I’ve dealt with. Is depression a sin? Can a person be freed from depression?

After research, this is the number one question asked by Christians who deal with depression. (Oh good, I’m not alone!)

Here’s some insight that I’d like to share from Dr. Bruce Hennnigan. “Depression can, in many instances, have a physical cause. So can alcoholism and several other things spoken against in the Bible. Follow me closely here: The tendency toward depression or alcoholism is not a sin; giving in to them, however, is a sin.The alcoholic will probably get drunk when he drinks, so the Christian who is an alcoholic and wants to stay in God’s will must make sure he never takes another drink. Likewise, the person who has a tendency toward depression isn’t at fault if his or her emotions begin a downward spiral. However, how he/she responds to that downward spiral will determine if there is sin.

Action Steps to take:

When you feel depression beginning to take hold of your life, try to do the following:

  1. Make sure you’re still reading the Bible and praying. You have the power, in Christ, to do what God wills.
  2. Thank God for loving you and bringing you through the bout of depression. God’s Word, not your present emotional outlook, is your authority.
  3. Try not to make a major decision while in a depressed frame of mind.
  4. Thank God for taking care of you and loving you even when you can’t feel it or see it. This exercises your faith and strengthens you.”

2- I think my spouse is depressed. What now?

Misconceptions often prevent those with depressive illnesses (including anxiety and panic) from getting treatment. For some, words like mental illness and therapy still make people feel weak or damaged in some way, the whole world able to see what you’re dealing with. In reality, depression can be much less obvious. Even so, it still debilitates and destroys its victims if left untreated.

A few key signs of depression are:

  • Daily sadness
  • Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
  • Restless, anxious or irritable behavior
  • Trouble concentrating, focusing or remembering
  • Excessive weariness and lethargy
  • Sleeping or eating too much or too little
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Thoughts of suicide or death

If you recognize any of these symptoms persisting in a spouse for more than a few weeks, check with your family doctor.

Tips from Carolyn MacInnes on helping your spouse:

“When a care-giver understands that clinical depression is a genuine medical condition, he or she may actually feel empowered. It’s encouraging to realize there are a number of tangible ways to help a spouse who is depressed:

Do

  • Pray fervently with and for them.
  • Share meaningful Scripture verses.
  • Help them see that the family needs them to get well.
  • Listen; give credibility to their feelings.
  • Seek help for yourself and offer to see a therapist with them.
  • Encourage them to consider medication; research shows that 80% of those suffering from depressive disorders can be treated successfully with modern medications.
  • Show affection; encourage them to get out and do things with you.

Don’t

  • Tell your loved one to just pray about it or make them feel like healing would come if they’d simply trust God more.
  • Make them feel guilty for the impact of their illness on the family.
  • Blame or criticize them.
  • Imply that they need help because they’re weak. Also, don’t immediately exclude other family members from counseling. Sometimes, complex relational issues involving several family members can spark depression.
  • Expect medication to solve everything. Also, don’t discount the need for prayer — and possibly therapy.
  • Let them continue in a pattern of sleep and isolation.

3- Let’s beat this thing!!!

Doctors Mark A. Sutton, Bruce Hennigan, M.D. suggest that the best way to beat depression is perseverance. “After realizing you are experiencing a depressive episode, how do you react? If you are like many I’ve counseled, you give up. You throw up your hands and say, “Depression is here again. There’s nothing I can do about it.” And then you let the disease dictate how you will react emotionally. Black moods and periods of doubt control you until the depression leaves and the cycle, for the moment, is complete. Then you wait, without realizing it, for the next cycle to begin.”

But what if we changed the cycle? Believe it or not, it is within our power to do so.We may not be able to stop depression, but we can choose how to respond to it. Here’s where the weapon of perseverance delivers a mortal blow to the enemy. Tell depression: “I’m never giving up or giving in to you. You may continue to plague me, but I’ll fight you with everything I’ve got. My emotions don’t belong to you, and I refuse to let them be held hostage without a fight. You may knock me down, but I’ve decided to keep on getting up. And I’ll fight you every time.

What does this type of attitude accomplish?

  • It breaks your usual cycle. You no longer simply give up when depression hits you.
  • The process of deciding to fight depression, even when you don’t feel like doing so, begins to give you more control over your emotions and helps you no longer feel like a victim.
  • As you decide to fight depression every time it appears, you build confidence in yourself. In many cases this shortens the amount of time depression stays with you.
  • Using the weapon of perseverance on a regular basis builds powerful habits in your behavior. Use it long enough and eventually you begin fighting depression when it appears without even realizing it!

Deuteronomy 31:8 –” The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

And here’s what I want to leave you with. Depression happens. It’s horrible. But, we will overcome…and, just think of how much greater Heaven will be for those of us who struggle here on earth?

Also, read the Psalms. They will encourage you in times of trouble and remind you that God will never leave you. He’s always there. Even in the bad times.

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One response to “Feeling Down?

  1. Leon Maiolo says:

    Thank you for your wonderful and heartfelt blog. I suffered from depression also. I once cried bitterly every day for six months. I wanted to commit suicide, just to relieve the pain. I have found using the authority of the believer, the answer to this. Please try commanding depression to leave Now in the name of Jesus Christ! If it comes back command it to leave again. Command the spirit of depression to leave also, and to stop tormenting you. Say it out loud with authority. Jesus has paid the price for your deliverance from this curse. God bless you.

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