Helping someone with depression is not easy.
I am not an expert or a psychologist or psychiatrist. I am just a pastor of a small church in Silicon Valley. However, I have been successful in helping people overcome depression and in all honesty have overcome depression at one point in my life as well.
To help someone with depression you need to understand where depression originates and then gently guide that person in dealing with the root cause of the depression.
Our society has become inundated with medications that cover the symptoms of depression, but they do not deal with the root cause.
These medications are fine to help someone get over a period of crisis or rough spot that a person is going through but they do not cure depression. They only deal with the symptoms.
Let me make this crystal clear. This article is not anti-medicine. If you need it right now, use it. If you are at risk of harming yourself, use it. However, Jesus is a healer. Jesus is the one who promises that our joy can be full. So while you are doing what you must with medication, do not stop there. Find the way to break free from depression.
Hopefully, I will be able to explain to you the principle I have found that freed me from the grips of depression and that has freed others as well.
It is not God’s will for anyone to live a joyless and unhappy life. Jesus came to give life and life more abundantly.
Helping someone with depression is part of doing the works of Jesus.
He came to heal the brokenhearted.
The video below is another man’s experience with depression, and I highly encourage you to watch it as you learn how to help somebody who is dealing with depression.
3 Keys to Helping Someone With Depression.
I have found three keys that help someone with depression.
Those three keys are “understanding the cause of depression,” “discerning the specific personal issues,” and “the application of biblical principles to those issues.”
So I will do my best to explain to you how these three keys will lead a person from depression back into a life that is filled with joy and happiness with a much deeper understanding of the grace of God.
1. You can help someone with depression by understanding what causes depression.
Depression is anger turned inward.
It is not about positive thinking or just renewing your mind. It is about your heart being angry.
It is an emotional issue that has to be dealt with on the soulish level, not the intellect.
The soul is the seat of the mind, will, and emotions and in this case, it is not a rational issue but an emotional issue.
God created our hearts to operate in love.
When it starts to fill up with other things besides love, its capacity is reduced. When it gets to the point that it is filled with a lot of other stuff, unresolved issues that we have not dealt with, then it begins to produce something other than love. It starts to generate anger and self-hate.
It is this anger and self-hate that causes depression.
Somewhere in the deep recesses of our hearts, there is self-blame for everything that has happened.
Because those issues are unresolved, emotionally our heart begins to blame us for not dealing with the problems.
It blames us for having to carry all the excess baggage.
It blames us for the extra work it has to perform because this stuff is still unresolved.
It gets angry for having to carry all the burdens.
When you understand the root cause of depression, you can begin to help someone with depression.
You know that somewhere in their heart there are unresolved issues that need to be touched by the grace of God.
You know that the issues are not about their job, or their family, or about their living situation. It is not about outward circumstances, but it is about inner healing issues.
So you can help a person with depression by assisting them to understand where depression comes from and to gently lead them to the next step in the process of overcoming depression.
2. You can help someone with depression by assisting them to discern unresolved issues.
You cannot tell a person what the unresolved issues are. You are not God. It is not your job to tell them what they are. It is your job to help them discern for themselves what those issues are.
It could be a lot of things, many of them could be entirely private.
Many times survivors of childhood sexual abuse, for instance, have very tangled issues to deal with.
On the one hand, they are angry at the person who violated them, on another hand they may have issues with why God allowed it to happen, and at the same time, many have self-blame issues thinking that they brought it on themselves at times.
These issues are not always rational. They are emotional. And as such, they have to work through the problems including the self-blame ones even though that is the least reasonable of all.
The same goes for many other unresolved issues whether it is failed relationships, unhealthy parental role models, etc.
The point is this.
You cannot be the one that discerns what the issues are. You can only be the one that encourages the person to start down the path of introspection to discover for themselves what the unresolved issues are in their life.
They have to get very honest and very real with God and not hide anymore from these issues. They have to face them even if they are scary, and also if they think they will be rejected if people know about what they have hidden in the closet of their heart.
Your job is to reassure them that they are loved, accepted and forgiven and no matter the issue, you will be there for them and be a willing ear as they are dealing with the emotions that are tied to these issues.
3. You can help someone with depression by assisting them to apply biblical principles.
When you are helping a person deal with unresolved issues, you need to help them understand how to apply biblical principles to those issues.
I have found that two main principles seem to be almost universal in this issue. They are the principles of forgiveness and surrender.
Most unresolved issues center around these two principles.
Either a person has not come to the point where they have truly forgiven the parties involved in an incident, or they have not surrendered to the sovereignty of God and trusted His plan even if they don’t understand that plan.
In my own life when I was dealing with depression, these were the two biblical principles I had to apply before I got over my depression.
I had to forgive my ex-wife.
I had to forgive all the people who abandoned me.
I had to forgive God (Remember we are dealing with emotions that are not always rational) for not protecting me from the pain.
I had to forgive myself for all the ways I had failed.
I also had to come to the point that I surrendered to the sovereignty of God in my life and quit comparing what I thought my life should be like and accept that He is the one in control and it is His plan for my life, not mine.
I had to quit comparing what I thought life should be life over what His plan for my life has turned out to be.
I had to come to the point of surrender and acceptance.
If you are going to help someone with depression, then you need to encourage and help them deal with these two biblical principles and any others that might arise when they are learning what the root causes, the unresolved issues, are that is causing their depression.
When we apply biblical principles to these areas, including asking forgiveness for harboring unforgiveness, and for not surrendering to the will of God, then grace comes.
The grace to forgive, the grace to surrender, the grace to release the anger in our hearts.
When grace comes then healing happens. Our heart stops mourning, our heart stops being filled with things other than love, and joy returns.
For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.