How Do I Respond to an Unfading Feeling of Deep Depression?

More Than an Emotion

At one time or another, everyone has experienced the weight of depression or likely knows someone who has. In times of grief, depression is a normal symptom. But for some, a state of depression grinds on with no sense of relief. The reasons behind persistent depression can be complex, especially for believers in Christ. Winston Smith, counselor and faculty member at the Christian Counseling & Education Foundation (CCEF), believes that Christians need a more holistic view of depression, one rooted in both truth and compassion in order to care for the whole of a person.

Winston has served as a counselor for more than fifteen years and holds a Master of Divinity degree from Westminster Theological Seminary. Winston is the author of Marriage Matters: Extraordinary Change Through Ordinary Moments as well as several mini-books: Divorce Recovery; Help for Stepfamilies; It's All About Me—The Problem with Masturbation; Who Does the Dishes?; and Help! My Spouse Committed Adultery.

Winston said that as Christians, we ought to appreciate how closely intertwined the mind is with the body. Because of this, depression is more than a one-way street of emotion. Rather, it is a kind of experiential dance that involves a person emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Thus, the ways in which we respond should seek to care for all of these in the process.

How have you thought about depression previously? Has this video caused you to think about it differently? If so, how?
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During times in which you may have experienced the effects of depression, what did you find helpful? In what ways can your past experiences inform your interactions with those you know who are walking through depression today?
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Winston said that our bodies "exert an influence that our faith and our thoughts can't always immediately address." In other words, though good and godly thoughts may be present, the physical aspect of depression can often outweigh them in the moment. How might this inform the way you support someone dealing with depression? What does it reveal about the importance of patience in our care?
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Winston pointed out that many today have an anemic view of emotion that equates Christianity with stoicism, meaning the belief that Jesus came so that we might not feel negatively anymore. But this is simply not what Scripture teaches. In fact, Jesus regularly displayed deep emotion Himself (see Isa. 53:3; Luke 19:41-44; John 11:35). As Christians, Jesus' coming may cause us to grieve more deeply as our brokenness takes on a whole new meaning, but we do so as those who possess hope.

In light of this material, is there anything that needs to change about the way you approach depression either in your life or with others? If so, what? Who could you involve in this process of growing? How will you reach out to them to begin that process in the days ahead?
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The gospel is not about removing our emotions, but realigning them to the promises of Christ. As Winston said, "It's about your passions developing and maturing along certain lines that promote and cultivate love." While depression can express itself in a variety of ways, as Christians our response must be one that cares for a person holistically. May your witness be one filled with grace, compassion, and truth as you point others to the hope of Christ.

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