4 WAYS TO DEAL WITH ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION IN 2020
“Well, if they only had more faith.”
That’s a pretty common response in the church when we are discussing those facing depression and anxiety. For some reason, those topics are just taboo in the church. After all, a Christian is supposed to be joyful and at peace right? They shouldn’t be experiencing depression or anxiety… they have Jesus.
But depression and anxiety are very real issues for many people. Yes, even those who are believers in Christ.
If 2020 has taught us anything it has taught us that stress and separation from people can lead us into some pretty dark places. In the midst of quarantines when we can’t gather in the ways that we are used to, when we can’t do the things that we love with people that we love, when we can’t even give a hug to someone when we do venture out, it causes a sense of loss in us that reveals loneliness in us and that can lead us into darkness that we may have never experienced before.
For me personally, I love my time alone. I love to just be in my man cave, pop on a ballgame, and just have time by myself. But we are created for relationships and even those who enjoy alone time like myself crave the presence of others as well.
I don’t have the statistics in front of me, but 2020 has seen a rise in depression and a rise in suicide attempts. This may be the single most overlooked part of the pandemic.
So why don’t we address it as a church? Why do we assume that Christians aren’t dealing with these issues? Depression and anxiety are very real issues for every segment of the population… even for Christians.
We see this evidenced in pastors who leave the ministry because of the anxiety and we even see it in the suicide rate of pastors which is shockingly high compared to other professions.
“But if they only had more faith.”
A lack of faith is usually not the issue for a Christian who falls into anxiety or depression. Many times it is caused by an actual chemical imbalance. It is a legitimate mental illness and mental illness should be treated in the church just as any other illness is. It should be acknowledged, we should show care and empathy, and we should encourage sufferers to seek medical attention.
But it shouldn’t stop there. Soul care is vital to helping people cope with anxiety and depression. Medication may absolutely necessary, but in the absence of the church caring for the souls of those struggling with anxiety and depression, they are often left without hope.
Maybe you have found yourself struggling with anxiety and depression. Maybe you aren’t there yet, but you can see and feel the signs of it. What should you do?
Here are 4 things that we should do to cope with anxiety and depression. I don't pretend to be an expert but hopefully some of this helps.
Recognize what triggers you.
When feelings of anxiety or depression begin to come, what are the things that seem to trigger that. Part of the challenge of anxiety and depression is that they often get worse if we don’t first acknowledge them when these feelings are small.
I am fortunate that depression or anxiety has not been a big issue for me, but nostalgia can sometimes bring me a sense of anxiety and depression. I know, maybe that seems like it should be the opposite and I am not sure why that can trigger me, but for some reason when I begin to get nostalgic I can sometimes feel a sense of loss and that can trigger those depressive feelings.
When we recognize the things that trigger those feelings then we are able to identify them before they become to hard to cope with. Don’t run from those things, but be prepared for them.
2. Seek Jesus.
This should be fundamental to our lives as Christians anyway, but we all know that we get busy and sometimes seeking Jesus gets put on the back burner. Practice the spiritual disciplines of time alone with God—not to get something from the Bible or to bring all our requests to God but to practice communing with him.
Matthew 11:28-30 tell us that He will give us rest when we find ourselves weary or burdened. This isn’t some feel-good verse… this is a promise. When we spend time alone with Jesus, just communing with Him and being honest with Him, He is ready and willing to take our burdens upon Himself. That doesn’t mean that they magically go away. But it does give us the ability to cope when we know the Lord is with us.
3. Find community and be thankful.
We are created to be in relationships. I don’t believe we can thrive when we try to do it alone. That definitely goes for dealing with depression and anxiety as well.
In Philippians 1, Paul acknowledges those he is in community with… and he shows gratitude for those relationships.
Philippians 1:3–4 Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy…
Lean on those God has surrounded you with and be thankful for the fact that they are in your life. It’s amazing how much the expression of gratitude and change so much of what is going on in our lives.
4. Don’t be afraid to seek help.
All of these things are beneficial, but sometimes the anxiety and depression just don’t abate. Seek help. Don’t be ashamed of needing to seek help…. Just do it.
There is a stigma with mental health that exists in our society and that has bled into the church. But don’t be ashamed. You’re health is too important. Mental health is just as real as physical health and we wouldn’t hesitate to seek medical attention if we had something physically wrong with us.
Seek help if you need it. Your future may depend on it.
If it’s just too much for you to handle right now, if you are having any sort of suicidal thoughts… seek help now.
Don’t wait… call 1-800-273-8255 and speak with a counselor today.