By Roxanne Smith

Depression is a terrible thing. When one struggles with depression they are caught in a world of hopelessness. The depression takes away all joy and one simply wants to hide.

I’m struck by the words from Psalm 13, “How long, Lord?….”  The Psalmist is feeling a sense of melancholy that can’t be shaken. This certainly speaks to the world of depression.

Psalm 13
How long, Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

Is someone in your life experiencing depression? Would you like to understand it better? Would you like to try to help?

Treatment for depression can be visualized as a three-legged stool. One leg is medication or medical treatments. The second leg is psychotherapy or counseling. And the third leg is spiritual.

Your friend/family member/coworker/neighbor may not need treatment in all three legs to recover. But the three-legged stool gives a frame of reference for treatments. Starting with the medical leg gives a chance for other contributing conditions to be addressed.

A general practitioner is a good place to start. Sometimes an underlying medical condition needs to be identified. The general practitioner may prescribe an antidepressant, or a licensed psychiatrist may be indicated since they have the best understanding of brain chemistry.

The counseling leg for treating depression would be provided by a licensed psychologist. If your friend is a Christian, it may be wise to encourage Christian counseling. That would allow the counselor to incorporate the third leg of treatment, the spiritual leg.

Other ways of accessing the spiritual leg of treatment include reading any of the Psalms of Lament. They express deep sorrow in prayer form to God, which may help your friend feel understood and less alone. They model wrestling with faith in God and with dark feelings, yet usually end with a statement of trust.

Psalm 13 (conclusion)
But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for He has been good to me.

Worshiping regularly, receiving communion, or asking for special prayer can be other spiritual sources of strength.

Your friend can also request a Stephen Minister. St. Luke has both men and women trained to provide active listening in a nonjudgmental and confidential manner. These sessions usually end with prayer. Sometimes having a Stephen Minister listen and care for an hour each week can be a great help.

Finally, you as a friend can make a difference. Find ways to encourage your friend. Let him or her know you will be there during the hard times. Tell your friend that one day things may look more hopeful again. Remind your friend that God loves him or her. Pray for your friend.

To read more about how to help a friend through depression read Identifying the Grey Lens of Depression.

The Psalms of Lament are Psalms 3-5, 7, 9-10, 13-1417, 22, 25-28, 31, 36, 39, 40:12-17, 41-43, 52-57, 59, 61, 64, 70-71, 77, 86, 89, 120, 139141-142.

If you would like to request a Stephen Minister or are interested in becoming one, call Becky Sukach at 734-417-5443 or Peg Long at 734-368-0558.