When It’s Not about Faith:
Facing Depression As a Believer
by Melinda Olsen
We live in a fast-paced, on-the-go kind of world. Busyness and rules can lock us into routines and behavior patterns in which we don’t have time for rest, quality time with friends and family, time outside in nature, or simply time away from the noise. The hustle and bustle of life and the transitioning of seasons can have tremendous effects on our mental well-being. Approximately one in four people in the world suffer from mental health problems each year. All of this, coupled with the changing of seasons, can create a perfect storm for depression. While we have come a long way in openly discussing mental health challenges, we still have so much to learn, especially in the church and faith community.
As believers, we can struggle with depression and seasonal affective disorder, even when our faith is deeply rooted in Christ. These issues are not necessarily due to a lack of faith, as some might assume. Too often, Christians are filled with shame and guilt when it comes to admitting a struggle with depression or anxiety. Those feelings are not from God; our enemy tries to use those thoughts to keep us trapped in darkness. God wants us to cry out to Him from the darkness.
“The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed” (Psalm 34:17–18).
It’s important to be self-aware and mindful of the difference between clinical depression that requires professional treatment and feeling blue during situational or seasonal changes. The main question is this: Can you make decisions or changes in your day-to-day life that can pull you out of sadness and hopelessness, or do you need more help? If your depression is seasonal, you can take some steps to manage it appropriately.
Consider the following ideas I have implemented in my own routine to stay grounded and thrive again following a season of sadness:
1. Stay in God’s Word.
Reading Scripture provides a sense of peace and support while showing us how much we are loved. Scripture also reminds us that we have a purpose and a reason for being.
2. Avoid isolation.
We are made for community. When you are struggling, let others into your world to help you, to pray for you, and to encourage you.
3. Keep a daily routine.
Structure helps us to keep moving and stay focused, preventing us from drowning in our own thoughts.
Exercise releases endorphins, which can be just as effective as many antidepressant medications.
5. Serve others.
Believe it or not, serving others makes us feel better and helps us feel gratitude for our blessings.
6. Laugh—even at yourself!
It’s important not to lose your sense of humor.
While these six suggestions are not a magic bullet, implementing these ideas, in addition to exercise and a healthy diet, helps ground me in my faith once again. Digging into my faith is what pulls me out of the pit of sadness. Remember, however, to seek professional help if you or someone you know is struggling with depression that doesn’t improve.
Please talk to someone. Do not be ashamed. Don’t let isolation drag you into a pit of darkness. Trust that with God’s help and by maintaining healthy rhythms, you can get back on your feet with the love and encouragement you need.
“He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name” (Psalm 23:3).
Melinda Olsen is a writer, coach, and mentor passionate about empowering women to live strong and bold lives for Christ. @melindaolsen
Scripture quotations are from the New Living Translation of the Bible.