(Posted September 20th 2017 @ 10:40 AM by: Melody Reever)

Why can’t people with depression just stop moping around and get up and help someone else? They would feel better if they weren’t so focused on themselves!

Depression is just like any other illness and may be caused by changes in a person’s brain chemistry. We wouldn’t tell a diabetic that he or she didn’t need insulin or a person with high blood pressure to just calm down. Depression often affects a person’s ability to “get up and go.” Often just picking up the phone to make an appointment with a doctor can seem overwhelming. It is more than just feeling sad. When people are depressed, it can affect their ability to function on a daily basis. That being said, people with depression can be good actors. Oftentimes, no one knows they are struggling.

What causes depression?

Research shows that many things can contribute. It can be brought on by difficult life circumstances, medical conditions, stress, or grief over the death of a loved one. Depression can run in families or it can be a side effect of some medications. In some cases, it can be caused by something as simple as a lack of vitamin D. Sunshine is one source of vitamin D. If a person is feeling more down in the winter months, it could be Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) when vitamin D levels are lower. A blood test can confirm this.

What can we do as a church?

Watch for people who are in difficult life circumstances and become their friend, just in case there are feelings of hopelessness that are unexpressed. People who have been recently diagnosed with a life-changing disability or condition can be susceptible to depression. Caregivers are often overlooked. Even if it seems that everything is fine, what a difference one person can make by offering hope and a listening ear! The greatest thing anyone ever said to me was, “I know your son needs prayer, but what can I do for you?” Just the fact that she saw me as a separate person and cared enough to ask meant the world to me. Even though she never did anything other than acknowledge me, it made such a difference in a difficult time.

How do you know you are depressed?

Although it can include suicidal thoughts, depression doesn’t always look the way we would expect. Sometimes it can just be a feeling that life is overwhelming. Depression can affect a person’s ability to function on a daily basis.

Symptoms can also include having problems concentrating and making decisions, being overly anxious and worried, feeling tired all the time, not being able to sleep or wanting to sleep all the time, being irritable or angry, changes in appetite, feeling of hopelessness, or having uncontrollable negative thoughts.

What should you do if you think you are depressed?

Make an appointment with your family doctor. He or she can perform a test to verify the diagnosis or refer you to someone for testing. Once diagnosed, there are numerous things that may be suggested: therapy, medication, exercise, light therapy, or even natural vitamins or supplements. At times, talking to a trained counselor or therapist may not be enough and medication or supplements may be needed as well. In all cases, it is a personal decision around which option you choose.

Where can I find a therapist? Do I need a therapist familiar with the disability that affects our family?

Often health insurance covers therapy if the therapist is within their network of providers. Therapists are trained on a wide range of issues. It is not necessary for them to be familiar with a specific diagnosis or disability to treat someone. As with any healthcare provider, seek out recommendations and trust your instincts. If it doesn’t seem like a good fit, don’t stay with that provider. However, don’t let indecision stop you from making a decision. Start moving in the right direction.

How do I find a Christian counselor?  Are there Apostolic therapists?

I reached out to Jennifer McCurrach, a licensed professional counselor supervisor in the state of Texas who works at Urshan College as Program Director for Human Services including concentrations in counseling, social work, pastoral care, and psychology, to answer this question.

“If you look at websites like Psychology Today or the Association of Christian Counselors, they have areas dedicated to searching for Christian counselors by zip code. You can also Google ‘Christian counselors in my area.’ However, not everyone who says they are a Christian counselor actually use Christian principles in counseling. Call them and ask some simple questions like, ‘Are you licensed by the state?’ (This is not necessary but there is a higher level of education and oversight that goes with licensure. You want to be sure that you understand who you are talking to.) ‘How do you include Christian faith in your practice? What denomination do you identify with? Do you use the Bible in your counseling?’ If you don't like the answers, call someone else. There are Apostolic counselors available across the country and some work through Skype or other technology means. We are working on an Apostolic Counseling Network which will help people to identify counselor in their area.” 

Sign UpFor Our Newsletter