Depression is often referred to as the common cold of mental health problems. Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness, guilt, loss of interest and pleasure, fatigue, and lack of concentration may be a lifelong struggle or the result of a major life change such as loss of a job or the death of a loved one.
People of faith who experience depression may find their religious practices and community a source of strength – or another obstacle to overcome. And, people of faith whose loved ones suffer from clinical depression frequently find it difficult to know how to support them.
Therapy & Medication
Clinical depression tends not disappear by itself, and medication alone generally does not bring complete healing. Living with someone with clinical depression can also be extremely challenging. A psychotherapist can help you navigate the journey by helping you to understand your feelings, manage your emotions, and determine whether medication is appropriate. A psychotherapist can also provide support for the caregiver.
Some psychotherapists are specially trained to integrate faith into their clinical practice to help clients who may feel abandoned by God and/or their faith community and wonder why their normal spiritual practices do not alleviate their despair.
Depressed persons often isolate themselves. However, we are designed as social beings, so true wholeness will only be found in relationships and community. The first step is to find a psychotherapist who will help you to build a team of support which may include other health care providers.
If you’re a person of faith, it is important to find a psychotherapist who will honor your faith tradition and help you to use it as one tool among many to bring about healing. Bereavement groups and other types of group therapy can also be beneficial.
You’re Not Alone
Barbara Cawthorne Crafton, an Episcopal priest, shares her own pilgrimage through depression along with countless other individual stories in her book Jesus Wept: When Faith & Depression Meet (Jossey-Bass, 2009). Crafton respects the unique challenges of depression on each soul and explores how faith and faith communities may better serve people afflicted by depression. You may be encouraged by reading this book, calling me here at LifeCare, or finding a psychotherapist near you to help you find your way back to you.
~Lynn Gullickson Spencer, MA, LCPC