7 Tips to Overcome Depression
Depression can be a monster, but these are some strategies to hopefully drive it away. Most may read this while they are going through depression, but these tips are also valuable when you are functioning normally, so you can combat depression before it sets in.
1. Every Thought Is Not Your Own
It's easy to assume that every thought that pops in your mind is your own. However, that couldn't be farther from the truth. This is best capture by the apostle Paul in his second letter to the Corinthian church:
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
This means that our thought life is actually a battlefield. Our thoughts can come in many forms. One way is that our thoughts can be projected to us by the kingdom of darkness. If you find yourself thinking things that are uncharacteristic of how you usually think, it could be a spiritual attack. The goal of the attack is to knock you off course and take advantage of you when you are in a vulnerable state.
Another place where thoughts can derive is from other people. Sometimes people will speak word curses over our lives. We may not always recognize these as curses, but these type of phrases are all word curses: "You won't every amount to anything" "You're just like your doggon daddy" "You can't do anything right!" or "You are stupid. Do you know that?"
Sometimes we can internalize these phrases and they can build strongholds in our minds. A stronghold is actually a military term and is a place that has been fortified to protect it against attack. Once these ideas have nested themselves in our minds, the stronghold can only be pulled down and broken down by the word of God.
Of course, every depressing thought does not come from elsewhere. Some thoughts are our own. However, it's very important to expose that other factors can play a role, because these thoughts can convince someone that they are going crazy.
2. Find the Lie
The scripture says that Satan is the father of lies. This means that lies are some of his preferred methods of attack. Almost any time we have thoughts of depression, it's because we have come into agreement with a lie. Usually, this lie will continue to have success in our minds until we identify it and defeat it. It's almost like a sports team that has found a weakness. They will continue to give Shaq the ball in the paint until the other team makes an adjustment.
Once we have identified the lie, we must defeat the lie. The word of God is our only tool to defeat the lie. We can shut down the narrative of depressing thoughts by asking ourselves, what does God have to say about it? If someone has told us that we will never amount to anything, we have to know that God has plans for us to prosper (Jeremiah 29:11). If we are feeling like we are worthless, we must know that we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). If we are feeling like we are unloved, then we need to know that God has shown His love to us by sending Christ to die for us even when we were sinners (Romans 5:8).
The kingdom of darkness only thrives in darkness. The moment that light exposes darkness, the darkness becomes defeated. The light of God's word needs to be present and active in our minds to defeat any form of depression that we face.
3. Praise Your Way Through
In 1 Samuel 16, King Saul was troubled with an evil spirit. He ended up sending for David, who was a shepherd boy at the time, to play his music. Once David started playing on his harp, the scripture says that the evil spirit departed from Saul. This may seem like a minor moment in scripture, but this is an amazing revelation about deliverance. It reveals that music and praise has the ability to set people free. God has anointed certain minstrels and ministers that can completely alter our moods and spirits.
If you are going through depression, turn on some praise and worship music! I know that it can be difficult to do it because depression makes you not want to do anything. Sometimes, depression makes you want to get even more miserable. However, we have to muster up the strength to simply cut the music on and let the ministers do their job. You don't have to sing along, you don't even have to enjoy it, but let it play.
In Isaiah 61:3, the Lord promises that he will give the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness (depression). This reveals that praise is a direct opponent to depression. When we begin to praise, we are making an exchange and asking God to take away our depression and clothe us with joy. Blast the music!
4. Look on the Bright Side
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
It's so easy to give more weight to the bad things that happen in our lives. However, too often we do not take time to celebrate small victories and appreciate the little things in life. Having an attitude of gratitude is a very powerful weapon to have in your arsenal. If you are alive today to read this blog, then that is something for which to be grateful. If you had food on your table or clothes on your back, that is something for which to be grateful. It definitely could have been another way.
The biggest trap is to get caught up in what we don't have, what we haven't done, or what didn't go our way. However, we can always consider what has went right and what we can anticipate. Much of the depression happens when we are too focused on self. If we place our focus on Christ and also our fellow man (as commanded), then we won't have as much time to meditate on what's right or wrong in our own lives. This is evident in scripture when it says that the Lord will keep someone in perfect peace when their mind is stayed on Him, because they trust him (Isaiah 26:3).
Don't focus on the darkness. Look on the bright side.
5. Don't Isolate
Depression does not have to be fought alone. It's not God's will for us to be isolated with bad thoughts. Counsel is something that God wants for each of us. In fact, one of the names for Jesus in scripture is "Counselor". We should have a strong enough prayer life to give our burdens to the Lord. The word tells us specifically to cast our cares on Him because He cares for us.
Even with the care of Jesus, God still wants us to seek counsel from others. Godly counsel, in the form of a pastor, accountability partner, prayer group, or Christian counselors is a strong tool that God has given us. Please don't suffer in silence and convince yourself that whatever you are battling is a burden to others. Please don't be so ashamed of what you are dealing with that you hold it in. Scripture is clear that in a multitude of counselors, there is safety.
We were not build to carry all of our burdens alone. We are commanded to bare one another's burdens and strengthen each other. You are not alone.
6. Self Care
Depression loves to attack when you are tired and weak. Even though much of the battle is mental and spiritual, there are physical things that we can do that can impact our mental health. The scripture says that bodily exercise profits little, but it doesn't say it doesn't benefit us at all! We should be regularly exercising, eating right, and getting a proper amount of rest. In addition to those standard ways of taking care of our temples, we should also find other ways of self care such as taking walks, getting massages, having a spa day, going site seeing, or Godly meditation.
Elijah was a prophet in the Bible who went through depression. He had an intense showdown with the prophets of Baal, only to get chased out of down by Jezebel. He was exhausted and at his wits end and totally convinced that he was the only real person left that was working for God. The fist thing that Elijah did after he ran was take a nap. Then the angel of the Lord woke up him, fed him, and told him to go back to sleep. After that, The Lord began to comfort him.
Maybe a nap and a snack can do more wonders than you think.
7. Be Present in the Moment
Depression is often accompanied with shame or anxiety. Shame typically has to do with something that has happened in the past. Anxiety typically has to do with something that could potentially happen in the future. We can't do anything to change what has happened in the past, and we don't have control over what happens tomorrow. The best thing can do is simply be present in the moment and concentrate our thoughts on that. This strategy is actually biblical.
Philippians 3:13-14 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Matthew 6:34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
Philippians 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Each of these scriptures are commands. The main focus is to keep you in the moment and not stress over what you cannot control.
Often times, these things are easier said than done. However, these strategies can prove to be very valuable in the battle against depression. Please consider implementing any of these that you find helpful or sharing with someone you know who is going through. God is with us and He will not leave nor forsake us.