How to Handle Depression

I found this article to be helpful and wanted to pass it on for those suffering from depression.

Depression has been called the “common cold” of mental disorders, and Newsweek (in 1987) estimates that it disrupts the lives of 30 to 40 million Americans.

Depression is too complicated to solve with a single answer. Gary Collins, in Christian Counseling: A Comprehensive Guide (Dallas: Word, 1988), lists several major categories of causes for depression, and approaches to treating it:

  1. Biological factors
  2. Learned helplessness (sense of being trapped and unable to remedy an intolerable situation)
  3. Parental rejection
  4. Abuse
  5. Negative thinking
  6. Life stress
  7. Anger
  8. Guilt

People use the word “depression” to cover everything from disappointment over losing a baseball game to the terrifying gloom that drives people to suicide.

The Bible does not use the word “depression,” although it describes people whom we might call depressed. It certainly doesn’t mention antidepressant drugs. However, there are a few general principles I would recommend when trying to deal with depression:

Aim to work on the causes of your depression, not just the symptoms.

Scripture points to many issues of sin or conflict that can affect your emotions; most counselors would agree that depression can result from other underlying issues. Don’t just worry about the depression itself; check to see what other problems need attention.

Realize that you can’t base life on your emotions: Christians base life on truth, not feelings. Philippians 4:1 commands us to rejoice (whether we feel like it or not!). And James 1:2 asks us to “Consider it all joy when we fall into various trials.” Notice that James doesn’t tell us to feel joyful; he tells us to choose to think about your situation as a place where you can have joy.

Faith: Choosing to trust truth rather than your feelings may require a lot of faith. And if that is what we mean by asking if faith can solve depression, then faith may be enough in some cases. Trusting what God says rather than your feelings is certainly a more realistic approach to life!

Heed God’s Advice: Many people talk about “faith” and only mean a vague hope that God will somehow pull them through. That’s too nebulous a concept to be reliable. Many of the same people who claim to have faith keep plunging through life ignoring God’s principles for healthy living. If we reject the good advice that the Bible contains, we won’t escape the consequences, even if we have faith.

Is it right to use antidepressant drugs? Or is faith enough to solve the problem?

Chemical Imbalances: Some cases of depression may be caused by chemical imbalances. If that is the cause, then antidepressant drugs may be the answer. God has allowed mankind to learn about many medical tools, and He sometimes uses medicine to heal. There may also be some cases of depression so severe that medications are necessary to bring the sufferer to the place where they can tackle some of the other issues; such cases might require medication, at least temporarily. I know of no Scripture that forbids such use.

Unresolved Issues, Root Causes: Any medications should be used with caution. Virtually any medicine has some side effects. Drugs can mask the symptoms, allowing you to ignore root causes. Some people may use antidepressants to avoid approaches that require you to deal with other unresolved issues. It seems easier to pop a pill. A general rule of thumb is to try other strategies first, unless the depression is so severe that the person endangers themselves or finds themselves unable to participate in other therapies.

Depression is a complex area, and severe problems of depression deserve the attention of a pastor or other counselor. (Author: Dr. John Bechtle)

Helpful tips for depression:

  • Avoid being alone: force yourself to be with people.
  • Seek help from others: a trusted friend who has your back.
  • Sing: music can uplift your spirit as it did for King Saul (1 Samuel 16:14-23).
  • Praise and give thanks: “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of
  • God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
  • Lean heavily on the power of God’s Word.
  • Rest confidently in the presence of God’s Spirit: “Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance” (Psalm 42:5).

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God’s Covenant of Marriage

How does one go from a good marriage to a great marriage? A husband and wife must never lose their commitment to each other. This commitment to both your mate and your marriage goes deeper than romantic love. It empowers you to keep an unbreakable covenant with your marriage partner regardless of unexpected circumstances. Our covenant God says to us, “I will make you my wife forever,  showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion.” (Hosea 2:19).

My Covenant Commitment

C = Commit to working through problems and not walking away (1 Corinthians 7:27).

  1. Decide together that divorce is not an option.
  2. Agree to communicate feelings honestly and lovingly.

O = Offer love to your mate even when you don’t feel like it (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).

  1. Evaluate how your love compares to that described in 1 Corinthians 13. Substitute your name in the place of the word “love” in verses 4-8.
  2. Pray daily for those who have hurt you—forgive and forgive again, refusing to keep a record of wrongs.

V = View your marriage as God’s setting for spiritual growth (Proverbs 15:13).

  1. Realize that God did not create any one person to meet all your needs.
  2. While God is your ultimate need-meeter, see your mate as God’s gift to meet some of those needs.

E = Eliminate any emphasis on your rights (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

  1. Identify what makes you angry.
  2. Sensitively express your honest desires—”It would mean a lot to me if you would take out the trash.”

N = Nurture your identity in Christ (Philippians 4:13).

  1. Evaluate if your sense of self-worth is based on how your mate treats you.
  2. Acknow1edge that your true identity is in Christ, not in your mate.

A = Ask God to change you (Psalm 51:10).

  1. Evaluate what areas in your life need changing.
  2. Ask your mate, “Would you name one area in my life where you feel I need the most change?”

N = Nourish your extended family relationships (Exodus 20:12).

  1. Evaluate the tangible and emotional needs of your in-laws.
  2. Consistently look for the positive in your mate’s family.

T = Turn your expectations over to God (Psalm 62:1).

  1. Evaluate the unrealistic expectations you’ve had of marriage and your mate.
  2. Realize God can bring complete fulfillment to you regardless of your marriage partner.

Your Scripture Prayer Project: Ephesians 5:21, 1 Corinthians 7:3-4, I Corinthians 13:4-5, 1 Corinthians 13:6-7, Philippians 2:2-4, 1 Peter 3:7, Ephesians 5:25, Mark 10:9

 This covenant acrostic come from June Hunt [print_link] [email_link]

Desires of Husbands & Wives

Although everyone has three God-given inner needs (for love, significance, and security), God designed the husband to have a greater need for significance, while the wife is uniquely created with a deeper need for security. A crucial element in the marriage relationship is becoming aware of your partner’s desires and learning to meet them creatively. Philippians 2:4 says, “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

How Wives Fulfill Their Husbands’ Desires:

  1. Admiration (Proverbs 31:23)
    1. Praise his positive character traits.
    2. Respect his burden of responsibility.
  2. Domestic Support (Proverbs 31:27)
    1. Provide a peaceful home atmosphere.
    2. Manage the home efficiently.
  3. Companionship (Mark 10:8)
    1. Develop mutual interests together.
    2. Learn to talk knowledgeably about your husband’s occupation.
  4. Attractiveness (Proverbs 31:25)
    1. Develop inner beauty that earns respect.
    2. Display inner strength regardless of outward circumstances.
  5. Sexual Fulfillment (1 Corinthians 7:4-5)
    1. Communicate your sexual desires.
    2. Give assurance that your husband is sexually adequate.

How Husbands Fulfill Their Wives’ Desires:

  1. Affection (Song of Solomon 1:2; 2:6)
    1. Give hugs, kisses, cards, flowers, and gifts.
    2. Tell her how much you care for her.
  2. Communication (Ephesians 4:29)
    1. Listen with concern and interest.
    2. Encourage and praise her positive character traits.
  3. Honesty (Proverbs 24:26)
    1. Commit to total truthfulness.
    2. Share your true thoughts, feelings, and desires.
  4. Financial Security (1 Timothy 5:8)
    1. Shoulder the financial responsibility.
    2. Prepare a budget together to plan for the future.
  5. Commitment (Hebrews 13:4)
    1. Schedule quality and quantity time alone with her.
    2. Make your wife and family your highest earthly priority.

This is information I discovered from June Hunt, the founder and CEO of Hope for the Heart.

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Causes of a Broken Marriage

Many people enter marriage expecting “personal payoffs.” Eventually, these unrealistic expectations become lost hopes and dreams that grow a root of bitterness. Hebrews 12:15 states, “See to it that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”

Couples expect marriage will always provide:

  1. Love and acceptance
  2. Affection and sexual intimacy
  3. A loving family
  4. Rescue from present circumstances
  5. Financial security
  6. Social acceptance
  7. Protection from loneliness
  8. Time to change a mate’s behavior

When these unrealistic expectations are unfulfilled, many spouses say:

  1. “Life is too short to live like this. We’ll both be happier apart.”
  2. “This was not a marriage made in heaven. We should never have married.”
  3. “I’ve tried everything—our situation is hopeless.”
  4. “You’re wrong. You’ll never change!”
  5. “Everybody’s getting divorced—marriage doesn’t matter anymore.”
  6. “It’s better for the children if I leave, to protect them from the arguing.”
  7. “I’ll never be happy here, but I’ll try to stay until the children are grown.”

Instead of living with unrealistic expectations regarding what you don’t have, be grateful to God for what you do have. First Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

The Key to a Biblical Marriage?

Mutual submission is based on your love for the Lord and your desire to do His will. Because of your love for God, you both must learn to defer to the desires of each other. Ephesians 5:21 says, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

This is information I discovered from June Hunt, the founder and CEO of Hope for the Heart.

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Five Troubled Marriages

God uses marriage as a chisel to chip away your character flaws. Rick Warren once tweeted something like “marriage is the original on the job training.” The only guidebook is the Bible, and so many people don’t crack it open.  God intends both partners to move from selfish to sacrificial behavior, reflecting the sacrificial love of Christ. If selfishness creeps in, marriage is in trouble. I read this information by June Hunt, which gives the characteristics of five troubled marriages:

The Make-believe Marriage—lacking honest and intimate communication by:

  1. Not working through problems (stubbornness)
  2. Not accepting responsibility (defensiveness)
  3. Not acknowledging your mate’s feelings (rejection)
  4. Not concerned about your mate’s needs (self-centeredness)
  5. Not displaying affection (apathy)

Make-believe marriages are marriages in name only. To enjoy intimate communication is to be as concerned about your partner’s needs as about your own. Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”

The Maladjusted Marriage—experiencing sexual difficulties because of:

  1. Frigidity (fearfulness)—from false guilt, sexual abuse, psychological problems
  2. Impatience (insensitivity)—being demanding, coercive
  3. Infidelity (selfishness)—indulging in adultery, pornography
  4. Fatigue (exhaustion)—caused by excessive busyness or overcommitment
  5. Anger (bitterness)—unforgiveness, manipulation

Maladjusted marriages fail to experience the unique expression of physical oneness. As an act of love, God’s design is that both partners yield their bodies to one another. True sexual fulfillment comes through seeking to provide pleasure to the other. The Bible says, “The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife’ (1 Corinthians 7:3-4).

The Mixed-up Marriage—having conflicting values over:

  1. Opposing religious beliefs
  2. Opposing parental responsibilities
  3. Opposing marital commitments
  4. Opposing friendship choices
  5. Opposing moral principles

Mixed-up marriages produce power struggles, tension, and criticism. With basic values in conflict, the couple has great difficulty developing oneness of mind, heart, and will. However, Philippians 2:2 says, “Make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.”

The Money-troubled Marriage—experiencing financial disagreements over:

  1. How family income will be earned. . .and spent
  2. How credit cards will be used
  3. How credit card misuse will be handled
  4. How the budget will be followed
  5. How the lack of money for essentials will be handled

Conflicting answers to these questions and other financial difficulties can result in an unhealthy focus on money and material needs. However Hebrews 13:5 says, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have.”

The Misaligned Marriage—failing to recognize/respond to God-given roles

Failure of the husband:

  1. To be a spiritual leader
  2. To be financially responsible
  3. To make wise decisions
  4. To seek to solve problems
  5. To be attentive to his wife

Failure of the wife:

  1. By not having a gentle spirit
  2. By trying to control her husband
  3. By becoming involved in power struggles
  4. By withdrawing emotionally
  5. By being bitter and sarcastic

God’s design is for the husband to feel significant through providing for his family and receiving the respectful love of his wife. He fulfills her need to feel secure through his love, acceptance, and sensitivity to her desires. It may sound old fashioned, but these verses are right out of the Bible. Once we have a proper understanding of love and submission, it’s not such a bad deal. Ephesians 5 paints the picture:

“And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her ” (Ephesians 5:21-23,25).

This is information I discovered from June Hunt, the founder and CEO of Hope for the Heart.

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