The King's Gardeners Ministries
Reverend S. L. Gardner
Spokane Valley, Washington US
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- Depression -
Unfortunately, in an earnest desire to heal, Christians have unwittingly done things, which torment rather than ease depressed people. The Body of Christ must learn what NOT to do in their efforts to truly help those suffering from depression, as well as what CAN be done.
Helping people in depression requires an understanding what they are and are not able to. Many Christians believe that depression is sinful in that it denies the hope and joy of the Lord in their lives. But depressed people are not at fault for their condition; they truly cannot help themselves. Because they haven't the strength to believe for themselves, we must have hope for them. We must help bring the depressed person back into life again.
Anyone ministering to people in depression must learn to respect and observe medical counsel, advice and prescriptions. Depression is both emotional and spiritual; because we wish to minister to spiritual aspects of the condition does not mean that medical treatment is unnecessary or undesirable. In our approach to the problem of depression, we are not in any invalidating any medical model for treatment. On the contrary, the two approaches work effectively to bring a depressed person back to life, ministering to the needs of the flesh and the spirit.
DEFINITION OF DEPRESSION: a condition in which the personal spirit has died to the capacity to function, in terms of its ability to supply energy for life. Like an extinguished pilot light we can turn the knobs, but nothing happens
DEPRESSION IS NOT: a sign of weakness, a lack of faith, something we are at fault for, or the result of negative thinking.
DESPONDENCY VERSES DEPRESSION: We all experience despondency, which is not the same as true depression. The despondent person knows there are things to do that will help i.e.: - music, exercise, friends. - Hopes for better times. - Still has confidence in self (can make statements like "I will be able to do this tomorrow) - Is affected only emotionally, psychologically. The depressed person, - knows that nothing will help - knows that tomorrow will be as black as today - has lost hope - knows he cannot fix it - is affected chemically, physically, as well as psychologically.
THERE IS ALWAYS A CHEMICAL IMBALANCE, thus prescribed medication can be a help if administered by a knowledgeable person whose intent is a temporary assist not a permanent drug dependency.
HOW TO RECOGNIZE DEPRESSION: - when someone tells you they are depressed, BELIEVE IT! Behavior = watch for withdrawal, general listlessness, inability to take teasing, pressure, challenges, criticism, workloads. Appearance = eyes have lost their sparkle, shoulders sag, hair and skin have no luster, may not make eye contact.
WHAT NOT TO DO: many of the things you could say or do to help a DESPONDENT person should NOT be done for the depressed.
- don't tell them "cheer up" it brings guilt
- don't invite them to parties or celebrations, they have no energy to participate and the result may be to increase their feelings of isolation
- don't preach or teach - don't give advise (self-help books, diets, exercises, time management tips)
- Don't do deliverance (I qualify this by saying if the Lord prompts and you are absolutely sure do deliverance prayers quietly without the person knowing. Normally the depressed don't have the strength to maintain a deliverance)
- Don't take them to prayer meetings, worship services unless they volunteer to go. Remember the depressed person has no energy/strength to maintain emotional activities. Leave the opportunity for them to come with you. Follow the Holy Spirit in this. Invite gently very very gently leave the doors open.
- Don't take them to comedies, they can't track with the upbeat nature of the function.
- Don't take them on strenuous endeavors: hiking, swimming, etc.
- Don't ask them to begin private devotions you could deepen their sense of failure if they can't live up to your expectations. Tell them that you will privately pray and then DO IT! This is where letting them know of your love and then doing the intercession in your prayer closet is vital.
- Don't work on spiritual healing they can't handle it. CAUTIONS - - Don't visit with them for long periods of time. Your presence (if you are a spouse) will be enough. They may not be able to take even that kind of "interaction" in the deepest points of depression. - Don't smile all the time. I know this sounds ridiculous but it only makes the person realize once more that they aren't "normal".
- Don't stand while the other sits. This may be taken as an overwhelming action. - Don't invade their personal space. Ask "is it ok if I…."
- Don't attempt to involve them in group ministry
- Be humble about your ability to help. If you can't help get someone who can.
- Don't explain or talk too long. Remember they don't have a lot of strength - Don't let them measure success or failure by signs or feelings.
- Don't pray "IF it be thy will" HEALING IS GOD'S WILL
- Don't pray with them for long periods of time;
- don't hand them back to God in a closing prayer they will feel abandoned.
- Don't say, "you can" or "I can tell you how" it is defeating. They have no strength to do much if anything. -
Don't lay hands on their head. Take their hands if given permission. Lay their hand in yours. Support their hand. Be careful of asking anything in your relationship that would require them to support you. You'll know the right time to let them know how much you need them. (if you are supporting a spouse who is depressed)
- Don't ask them to make decisions about appointments etc. Gently say you have an appointment with so and so at whatever and I can go with you if you'd like. That will let them have a ride or whatever. If they don't want you to go that's ok too. That's a good sign. If they say no, smile and say ok, let it be ok with you.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
- Commiserate, weep with them, (Romans 12:15) Identify with them, reflect back to them simply. You're expressing back to them their own feelings. If they say everything's black say, I understand you feel like everything's black…. Can't stand people… I feel guilty…. Everyone says cheer up and I try… you know it's impossible…. You know tomorrow will be black like today. Don't try to get them to deny their feelings! You don't have to agree with them but you are acknowledging their feelings and pain.
- EXPRESS CONFIDENCE: tell them you know exactly what to do or will find out what to do THEN DO IT. Statements to build up like, "You will be healed." "You don't have to have faith" (Luke 5:17, 20) "I know you'll begin to feel better." These are statements of YOUR confidence and none of these imply they have to DO anything to please you.
- EXPRESS A DESIRE TO "CHOOSE" THEM
- Statements of love that express that that your love is a choice not something they have to earn is a good way to "choose" them. Saying you "choose" to sit with them in absolute silence if that's what they need and it's ok would be another statement of expressing "choosing" relationship
- PRAY SIMPLY, VIVIDLY
- rekindle the "pilot light" of their spirit. Use word pictures in prayer, simple, positive prayers that correctly identify their feelings.
- AGREE TO CARRY THEM THROUGH THE PROCESS
- enlist others to help you pray. Do not have "wailers" in their presence.
- Help with daily practical matters
- help them to re-discover hobbies, re-awaken interest in life. They may not even be able to remember to turn off the lights or stove. BE PATIENT! -
- NOTE CHANGES, AFFIRM, COMPLIMENT
- ENCOURAGE THEM to begin doing things they like
- MAINTAIN THE RELATIONSHIP
- DON'T JUDGE BY WHAT YOUR EARS HEAR NOTE: After a depressed person has begun to take hold of life again, then it is time to begin to get at the root causes which drove them into depression in the first place.
SOME CAUSES FOR DEPRESSION:
- Performance Orientation, failure to earn love, whether by performing "correctly" or NOT, leads to discouragement and ultimately to depression.
- Hidden guilt, fear
- Inability to forgive themselves or others
- Childhood wounds, IE. Deprivation of affection, early loss through divorce, separation, death, abandonment, molestation, adoption,
- Grief, loss of job, retirement, drastic changes
- Physical/psychic trauma like
- post-partum experience, loss of limb, hysterectomy
- Sustained travel
- Chemical imbalance In a nutshell I suggest you build your relationship slowly, be patient and as with everything else be sensitive to your beloveds spirit and the Holy Spirit.
A prayer model for depression
- Father, I ask you to come into the darkness that is ________'s life right now. All his/her energies, spiritual, emotional, and physical, are used up. Lord, _________ has called out to You and heard no answer. Nothing changed. So now, everything has come to a standstill; there is no more will to try. There is no hope, no point to life. I asked You, Lord, to come and rekindle the pilot light of _______'s spirit. Little by little, and at a pace he/she can bear, increase Your Light and energize his/her spirit. Jesus, come and let the warmth of Your presence flow from the center of his/her being outward. He/She may not feel any immediate difference - that's ok. I know Lord, in time, the good feelings will come. Father, I ask that You bless __________'s sleep so that rest reaches deep into the exhaustion of his/her bones. Begin the renewal process. Lord, I ask You in faith and confidence to do this for __________, in Jesus Name. Amen
It is my desire that you take the raw gems presented here and make them part of your life. Let the Holy Spirit cut, refine and polish them for our Lords glory and honor.
Rev. Dr. S.L. Gardner
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