Depression falls into one of two categories:
- you either struggle with depression
- or you live with someone who is depressed and struggles with depression
We have that in our household.
According to the World Health Organisation, 350 million people, of all ages, suffer from depression. One in five women are diagnosed with depression and are more likely to suffer from depression than men, who are only diagnosed one in eight. Twenty percent of people will experience symptoms of depression at some point in their lives.
Depression is an illness; it is complicated and there is no “snap-out-of-it” answer. There are different types of depression and not all of them can be treated in a quick and easy manner.
So why the word “overcome” in the title? Although my husband and I live with depression, it has never beaten us. Each day we fight back and have a good day, and successfully move through a season of depression—we have overcome the effects of depression.
Here is what I have figured out about overcoming depression
1. You are not alone.
Loneliness, isolation, abandonment are some of the feelings a depressed person describes, but what we have realised is that the depressed person is not the only one suffering. All who live with them, or are in close association with them, are also suffering from the effects of depression. It is just as hard to live with a depressed person, as it is to be depressed. Our first strategy was a mindset that depression affects all of us in the family—we all “suffer” from depression.
2. Everyone is part of the solution.
Depressed people don’t tell others, or even their loved ones what they are feeling, but this is often the best strategy. Since the whole family battles with depression, the more open we are about the challenges of depression, the more the family develops coping strategies. A family develops ways of supporting each other, e.g. when they are trapped in repeated negative thought patterns, the family can jolt them out of this by offering alternative thoughts, or a different perspective; they can exercise together, or work on strategies which will assist them to overcome.
3. Get help.
Sometimes medication is needed, at times counseling, but as a family: seek help. As a spouse or parent, go with the depressed person to see medical people. A depressed person is often so involved in their head and their feelings that they cannot give anything but subjective feedback. The spouse or parent is often more objective in their feedback and can provide information to medical people, which helps with more effective treatment. Furthermore, depressed people often cannot remember most of the information provided by medical personnel during an appointment, nor provide details on medicines, or agreed upon strategies discussed with the doctor. So it is important to be involved together in this process.
4. Get information.
Scripture tells us that wisdom (understanding of what to do) comes from knowledge (information) and it applies not just to our spiritual lives, but to the practicality of life as well.
For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. – Proverbs 2:6
For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy. – Proverbs 2:10
Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do! And whatever else you do, develop good judgment. – Proverbs 4:7
Why struggle in the dark? Get as much information about the condition as possible. Often it is information that helps us understand:
- our symptoms.
- what the triggers are.
- what the side effects of medication are.
- what coping strategies we can develop in our lifestyle.
- and, most importantly, it connects us with others who have overcome depression.
Get good information and from this build strategies.
5. Never surrender.
No matter how dark it gets, time is a factor of depression. The longer you are depressed, the more it takes a hold of you. So too, in overcoming depression, it also has a factor of time, there are no overnight solutions, it is a gradual persistent walk out of depression. Therefore as a unit decide to never surrender to the effects of depression in your lives – you always work towards solutions as a team. We are only as strong as the people around us, and the ability of the depressed person to push through depression is directly linked to the determination of those living with them not to allow it to destroy them.
for those of us who are depressed, or living with the depressed, we would like nothing more than for depression to finally go away, completely. But reality is that depression is our current struggle and it requires us to dig deep, bolster our faith and take each step with trust in the Lord to overcome. Only then are we truly not victims of depression anymore, but over-comers, ultimately victorious over depression.
Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven with the saving strength of His right hand. – Psalm 20:6
It is my firm belief, that with Christ’s death on the cross, the Lord laid the foundation for us to overcome anything—even depression. It is His goal, through His power, to be victorious in all circumstances.