5 Ways Helping Others Can Help You Overcome Depression

Dr. Ryan Noel Fraser Sept 12, 2019

5 Ways Helping Others Can Help You Overcome Depression

“Why have I been feeling so depressed lately? What’s wrong with me? Will I ever feel like my old self again?”

If you’ve recently been asking yourself these types of questions, please take heart! I want to encourage you by offering some practical suggestions and much-needed hope for your journey with depression, and to start, it’s important for you to know that you’re not alone.

The dark blue landscape in our nation looms ominously with 18 million adults (one in ten) impacted by depression in a given year. Women are twice as likely to suffer as men. Diagnoses of depression are growing fastest among millennials (ages 18-34), with stats having increased 47 percent since 2013. Among adolescents (ages 12-17), the depression rate has skyrocketed 63 percent over the past six years, with nearly one-in-five teens afflicted. Parents often feel at a loss and woefully ill-equipped to intervene and help their children recover.

Christians are not exempt or somehow immune to the disease or disorder of depression.

In fact, it’s an epidemic in the church as a whole. Just ask your minister or pastor and they’ll tell you what churches are up against when it comes to serious mental health challenges. The devil, as an insidious enemy and predatory roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8), is having a veritable field day with the hearts and minds—and basic sense of emotional wellbeing—of many believers.

When depression assaults believers, it can be extremely disorienting and demoralizing to their spiritual walk. The oppressive, internalized stigma they carry can feel almost unbearable at times, as they struggle with profound shame and irrational guilt for their “unacceptable” emotional state.

Many who suffer either with episodic or more chronic clinical depression mistakenly feel that their faith is flawed, which only compounds the issue and adds insult to injury. “If only I trusted fully in God’s power and was a more dedicated and faithful Christian, I surely wouldn’t be so depressed,” they tell themselves.

All the while, they continue to suffer with depression in silence and embarrassment.

They’re often their own worst critics and struggle with a vicious cycle of self-loathing and unrealistic self-imposed expectations, unwilling to extend any grace to themselves.

If you find yourself battling with depression, you don’t have to look very far in Scripture to discover stories of faithful men and women who, at times, struggled with their mental health. I’m reminded of biblical characters like Abraham, Sarah, Moses, David, Elijah, Hannah, and Paul.

While they had immense personal struggles, they ultimately found comfort, confidence, and courage in the Lord. In fact, in many ways it was in the midst of their many weaknesses that they discovered God’s divine strength and through their service that they found lasting meaning, hope, and healing. It supplied them with the impetus they needed to keep on moving forward in life, despite being confronted with seemingly insurmountable obstacles in their paths.

In confessing his thorn in the flesh, Paul said, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Cor. 12:8-9, NIV). In verse 10b, he exclaimed, “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Paul had finally come to terms with accepting his tough situation and had learned the challenging lesson of complete trust and total dependency on God.

Depression presents you with a unique opportunity to grow as a person if you’ll let it.

It can serve as sort of built-in radar that sensitizes you to the suffering of others and provides valuable insider knowledge to effectively reach out with empathy, Christ-like compassion, and kindness. Thus, your battle with the blues can serve to deepen your faith and strengthen your care. Not in spite of depression, but precisely because of it.

The apostle Paul says something rather revolutionary in 2 Corinthians 1:3-5Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.”(ESV)

From Paul’s perspective, being on the receiving end of divine comfort during times of personal duress may result in an increased propensity for gratitude, a heightened awareness of others’ pain, and a greater capacity for providing effective spiritual care and comfort to other sufferers.

We operate out of the deep godly wisdom and maturation gleaned from our own refining process that occurs when confronting difficulties such as depression. Depression can, therefore, serve as a doorway to greater spiritual depth and discovery.

Here are five ways that helping others can serve to empower you to be victorious in your battle with depression:

1. Helping others encourages you to refocus your emotional energy and redirect your negative thought patterns in a more positive direction.

In other words, you will shift your perspective from internal absorption to external mission through selfless service. Jesus said that he didn’t come “to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).

Therefore, when we help others and thereby develop Christ’s servant heart within us, we can be assured that we are walking in the footsteps of the Savior. In Philippians 4:8, Paul encourages the believers to refocus their minds on “excellent or praiseworthy” things. Serving others fundamentally changes our perspective. It supplies sufficient mental space to count our blessings and meditate on uplifting thoughts that counter the distorted, unhealthy thought patterns endemic to depression.

2. Helping others will supply you with a renewed sense of being a worthy and valuable person.

Depression will cause you to get down on yourself and disparage your personal worthiness. You may arrive at the flawed conclusion that you’re nothing but a great big burden on your family and friends.

But by finding ways to serve and use your talents, resources, and opportunities in a meaningful way, you are able to counteract these unhealthy perspectives and clearly see the positive difference you are making in the lives of others.

This important recognition will strengthen your self-esteem, facilitate your personal validation, and gradually improve your self-image in Christ.

3. Helping others by means of hands-on work (or physical labor) will provide the built-in advantage of exercising your physical body.

Whether you areraking a widow’s leaves, mowing an injured person’s grass, mopping a shut-in’s floor, washing an elderly relative’s car, pushing a grocery cart as a you lend a hand to a frazzled young mother, or carrying boxes and furniture for people who are moving in or out of the neighborhood, these are all physically demanding activities that have the effect of bringing up your heart rate.

In this way, there is an inherent cardiovascular benefit that, in turn, works to counteract unpleasant emotions, as feel-good chemicals are stored up and released in your brain.

4. Helping others gives you a good reason to climb out of bed in the morning, take a shower/bath, get dressed and groomed, and actually leave your residence.

When we have a specific task to do for someone else, it can function as a powerful motivator to get us mobilized rather than wallowing in the mud of melancholia. The longer you remain in bed or lying on the couch, the worse off you will feel physically and the more defeated and helpless you will feel emotionally.

Many times, a significant percentage of the day’s battle is won when you force yourself to get up, get out, and get busy serving to the best of your ability.

5. Helping others can provide you with much-needed social interaction and uplifting Christian fellowship.

While you’re volunteering to serve, you will likely find the opportunity to talk, laugh, and positively engage with others in an enjoyable and meaningful way, rather than feeling lonely and isolated. This is particularly true when you work alongside other people, perhaps in a soup kitchen or outreach food pantry, construction or house painting project, community cleanup effort, clothing closet, children’s or seniors’ ministry event, care-package assembly line, or even a domestic or foreign mission trip with a team of believers.

Small talk will come easier and conversations feel more natural when you’re working together on a common project for a greater good with other volunteers.

The avenues of volunteerism and helping others can serve as a restorative strategy for overcoming various shades of the blues. God gives us the grace we need to live victoriously and abundantly with great joy and real spiritual purpose.

Serving is more than a short-lived distraction from your own suffering; it is a powerful and restorative antidote. It’s a transformative way of life that facilitates healing, health, and hope.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/HeroImages


cover of Overcoming the Blues book by Dr. Ryan Noel FraserDr. Ryan Noel Fraser grew up in Cape Town, South Africa. He holds a Master’s in Divinity and a PhD in Pastoral Theology and Pastoral Counseling from Brite Divinity School (Texas Christian University). A licensed clinical pastoral therapist, he directs the Masters in Pastoral Care and Counseling program at Freed-Hardeman University. He and his wife, Missy, have two adult children and a terrific son-in-law. They live in sunny Tennessee where they enjoy hiking and barbequing in the backyard. For more resources on depression and to learn more about Overcoming the Blues, go to ryannoelfraser.com.

[Information sources:
https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db303.htm
http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs369/en/
https://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/depression-teens
https://centerfordiscovery.com/blog/todays-teens-depressed-ever/
https://www.johnshopkinshealthreview.com/issues/fall-winter-2017/articles/the-rise-of-teen-depression
https://www.newportacademy.com/resources/mental-health/teen-depression-study/]

https://www.crosswalk.com/special-coverage/depression-suicide/ways-helping-others-can-help-you-overcome-depression.html

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VIDEO What Is Going On?

 

 

 

 

By Reverend Paul N. Papas II  September 7, 2019

 

I admit sometimes I forget, and sometimes I can’t remember, and I don’t remember which it is. I tell the kids don’t get old and that I don’t know how that can be done, just don’t get old. Yes, they just look at me.

Where does one call to find out the offense of day, moment is? Is there a central clearing house? It sure seems like you can turn TV stations to find the same words and the same outrage coming from different talking heads. I figure someone is passing out words to say. Would someone please give me the phone number of who has a list of the current offense words, hats or whatever? This growing list is giving me a headache.

When I grew up our news came from newspapers where opinions were found in the Editorial section. News contained facts not propaganda.

Newspapers were printed once, maybe twice a day, or weekly.

There were no computers, cell phones, texting, emails, twitter, facebook or other such things that instantly post pictures and information to people worldwide.  When someone needed or wanted to pass along information or pictures if they didn’t meet in person they put them in the mail.

TV news was on early in the morning, at noon, 6 and 11pm in black and white. There were no twenty four hour TV stations. AM radio was mostly music, FM broadcasts were rare.

No one was shot up into space yet. President Eisenhower had not yet warned us of the dangers of the military industrial complex.

In others words people looked each other in the eye and spoke to each other.

Yes, in some ways you could say life was slower compared to today. In some ways life was more relaxed than today.

There actually is a way to support my statement that life was more relaxed then.  The amount of people suffering from anxiety, which is the activation of the Fight or Flight System, rose in response to increase to the strains of everyday life from the 1950s on.

“The common psychological features of these problems include a mélange of symptoms involving nervousness, sadness, and malaise. The typical physical symptoms consist of headaches, fatigue, back pain, gastrointestinal complaints, and sleep and appetite difficulties, often accompanying struggles with interpersonal, financial, occupational, and health concerns. These complaints account for a large proportion of cases found in outpatient psychiatric and, especially, in general medical treatment.” (1).

Am I suggesting we go back in time, not quite? There are very many good uses of modern technology. The biggest downside I see to modern instant communications is the lack of interpersonal communications.

Interpersonal communication is the process by which we exchange information, feelings, and meanings through verbal and non-verbal messages through face-to-face communication. It is not always what is said, but how it is said and the expressions used.  The absence of interpersonal communications can lead to a misinterpretation of what was said which today could lead to quite a flurry of tweets.

My suggestions include: count to ten before sending an instant message, perhaps you’ll change what you want to say;  text less; meet as many people as you can in person to talk face to face; and take walks.  You just might find your quality of life will improve as will those around, doing your part to make the world a better place.

 

(1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2888013/


Original here

https://preacher01704.wordpress.com/2019/09/08/what-is-going-on/

Recycled Misfits

Reverend Paul N. Papas II

July 30, 2019

 

 

 

Let’s start by looking in the mirror….I’ll let you know when to turn away from the mirror.

In the Christmas story of Rudolph: Rudolph and his elf buddy Hermey don’t fit in with the others. Rudolph looks different than the others. Hermey is not interested in making toys. In an odd plot twist, Hermey wants to be a dentist. Not surprisingly, his elf supervisor is upset with the unproductive Hermey. So the two misfit outcasts set off to find their fame and fortune.

In the mirror you see the times on the playground or gathering where you did not fit in and felt like an outcast, a misfit.

Who among us doesn’t occasionally feel battered, bruised, broken? And sometimes it’s because of something we’ve done to ourselves.

Feeling battered, bruised, and broken can lead to fear of the future, fear of success, anxiety, depression and even suicide.

Thankfully God has perfect vision, unlimited resources and doesn’t give up so easily on battered and broken people. Psalm 85 describes people who were perfect candidates for restoration and God is able to restore. God is the God of restoration and forgiveness; those who humbly come to Him are never without hope.  He remarkably and wonderfully made us, He does not make junk.

Crime victims, First Responders, and Combat Veterans may have suffered different traumatic events leaving them feeling battered, bruised, and broken and suffering the same Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), feeling like a misfit.

Then there is Eponine who seems the most like a social outcast misfit. She belongs to a gang of wretched people, and she is very poor. She has been through so much in her short life, things she should not even have experienced. She has abusive parents who don’t give two hoots about her, and she feels as if no one loves her and she is alone in the world. In the song on my own she talks about how the man she loves is I love with someone else and how she wishes he would love her. She knows he will never love her like that and sadly comes to terms of being alone because the single man she loves does not love her back. She is like the social out casts of today, because she is in a very bad group of people and usually people that are just looking for directions now a days end up in bad situations like her. Many people feel alone just like she does and many people these days go through though times where the person they love does not love them back. She has no where to go and no one good in her life to help her. She is in a hopeless situation of having terrible parents loving a man that will never love her and she abused by her father. No doubt she has lived a terrible life, and her situation is worst than most social out cast of our world today.

Often victims of abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault become the abusers.  It does not have to be that way. Breaking the cycle of abuse can be accomplished saving medical bills and lives.

Throughout life you can be a misfit because you look or dress differently or because you don’t think or talk like others around you. Just because you may look or dress differently or because you don’t think or talk like others around you it does not make you wrong, just different. Being different just may even bring to light a better way.

How many times did you recognize yourself as a misfit in the mirror? Still looking in the mirror? How many times did you overcome those situations you were a misfit? What do you still need to overcome?

If you have had more than one boyfriend or girlfriend, more than one job or overcome a misfit situation – you have been recycled. Being recycled in this manner means you still had plenty of good days ahead.

Continue to recycle your misfit situations for healthy growth. Stay looking in the mirror as long as you need.

https://preacher01704.wordpress.com/2019/08/02/recycled-misfits/


Declaration of Dependence

by Greg Laurie on Jul 2, 2019

This July 4th let’s remember our founders also signed a Declaration of Dependence

Having had the opportunity to travel around the world, let me say I think America is the greatest country on earth.

We are far from perfect. We have our many flaws. But we have so much to be thankful for as a nation.

Imagine what kind of world we would live in today if there had been no America: No one to turn back the rise of the Nazis in World War II. No one to stand up against the tyranny of communism and socialism. No one to stand up for our ally Israel and other nations that need our help.

Why has America been able to do all those things? Because we have a foundation that has taught us what right and wrong are, that every individual life has inherent value and dignity and that there is a God who can and wants to bless us if we follow him.

We learn these things from the most influential book in our country’s history: the Bible.

Thomas Jefferson once said about the Bible, “I have always said, and always will say, that the studious perusal of the sacred volume will make better citizens.” Of Holy Scripture, Andrew Jackson said it is “the Rock on which our republic rests.” Abraham Lincoln stated, “All the good Savior gave to the World was communicated through this Book. But for this Book we could not know right from wrong. All the things most desirable for man’s welfare, here and hereafter, are to be found in it.”

The Fourth of July is this week. As you know, our Founding Fathers framed a document that we call the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

We often forget that in declaring independence from an earthly power, our forefathers made a direct declaration of dependence upon God Almighty. The closing words of this document declare, “With a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

But 243 years later, it seems we no longer rely on God the way our founders did.

We have thrown God out of the classroom. We have thrown him out of the courtroom, a judicial system built on biblical truth. And we have done our best to throw him out of modern culture.

And when people forget God, they forget the One who blesses them in times of abundance and guides them in times of hardship. Abraham Lincoln recognized this many years ago when our nation was embroiled in a bloody civil war:

We have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious Hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!

Today, though our Union is at peace, we face a situation not unlike the one Lincoln was facing then.

In spite of being the most prosperous and powerful nation on earth, we have “trouble in paradise.” Americans are more depressed and unhappy now than ever before. One in five Americans — over 60 million — will battle major depression in their lifetime.

Roughly every 11 minutes, someone in America commits suicide. According to statistics— and these are conservative estimates — 1.4 million people attempt suicide every year. In fact, there are more suicides than homicides.

I mention depression and suicide because they reflect the internal state of our nation, and they tell us the answer for America’s problems is not a political one. It is spiritual. We need to turn back to God.

This August, I will be hosting an evangelistic crusade in Southern California — for the 30thyear in a row. Our Harvest crusades in Southern California are the longest-running evangelistic outreach in U.S. history.

While some people may think of a crusade as a relic of a bygone era, let me tell you, tens of thousands of people still show up every year to our events. I believe they do because they are searching for hope and meaning in this chaotic world we live in, and the gospel offers answers to their deepest questions. The gospel has always been, and will always be, the greatest hope for humanity.

As America celebrates July 4th, I pray we remember our need for God. We need to turn back to the True and only God — the same God our founding fathers invoked when they established this nation.


Originally published by The Daily Caller as LAURIE: This Independence Day, Let’s Remember The God Who Inspired America’s Founding.

Declaration of Dependence

Hills and Valleys

Psalm 22:1- My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?

It seems to me that our Christian culture has made it a sin to despair, to question God, to be just downright sad. However, the Bible is filled with mighty men of God who struggled with God, who questioned God, sought their own way, or just had down days. I don’t feel like Christianity should promote despair, but I also don’t think that it should try to make it seem like everything is awesome, every day of the week. This is an unrealistic goal which can cause us to be frustrated when we cannot achieve it, or to ignore these thoughts and push them away without dealing with them directly.

Now before we continue, I am not talking in this post about clinical depression that needs treatment from a licensed clinical psychiatrist, which I am not. Depression is a real struggle for many and I will not claim to have all the answers to it.

Let’s look in the Bible where men of God questioned God and their circumstances:

• John the Baptist was in prison and questioned if Jesus was the Messiah even after proclaiming it at Jesus’ baptism (Matthew 11:2-3)

• Habakkuk 1:2- O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save?

• Moses was frustrated with God and the Israelites many times. In Numbers 11:11 he said to the Lord, “Why are you treating me, your servant, so harshly? Have mercy on me! What did I do to deserve the burden of all these people?

• Many of David’s psalms were filled with sadness and discouragement including Psalm 22

• In Psalms 73, Asaph questioned God about the prosperity of the wicked

• After the defeat of the prophets of Baal, Elijah suffered from despair, even wishing to die. In 1 Kings 19:4 he said “I have had enough Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.”

• Jonah rebelled against God, but after the successful saving of Nineveh, Jonah became bitter telling God “Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” Jonah 4:3

Now it’s easy as Christians to quote the Bible where it says “the joy of the Lord is our strength” and “rejoice in the Lord always”. I’m not saying that these are not good goals, but as fallible humans we need to understand that we will have good and bad days, we will have strong faith mixed with weak faith, we will question God and we will be without any doubt. There are high and low points in our “climb up the mountain” as Christians. Just read Pilgrim’s Progress…

Martin Luther, the great reformer, struggled with doubt. It’s one of the key drivers of him questioning the church at the time to lead the reformation. At one point his doubt led to such great a depression that he wrote, “For more than a week I was close to the gates of death and hell. I trembled in all my members. Christ was wholly lost. I was shaken by desperation and blasphemy of God.”

What is our end goal when we despair? If we question God or have sadness what do we do? We do not live in that state, we use it to propel us forward and out of it. We seek help, read the Bible, pray to God, and ultimately stand firm in our faith in who God is. It is important to not go through this alone, we need to find fellow believers we can be accountable with and who we can call up when we are struggling.

Feel free to read my previous post on “Wrestling with God.” God is a big God and He can handle our doubts, worries, anxieties, fears, and sadness. If we give them over to God, He can handle them where we, in our own strength, cannot. Once we rest in God’s sovereignty, we can realize that we do not have all the answers, and that is ok.

Back to Psalm 73, it is my favorite Psalm. The first half is the authors frustration’s with the wicked, but by the end it brings him to a place of confidence in God and His ultimate plan. How he may not understand everything fully, but his ultimate trust is in God.

23  Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
24  You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
25  Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26  My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
27  Those who are far from you will perish;
you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
28  But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.

May the same be said of us, that we can use our dark times to help illuminate God and His power, that we can rest in the fact that He has everything under control. Our doubts and fears are not sinful in and of themselves, we should not feel unworthy for having them. But after we push through, get everything out in the open, and fall back on God’s sovereignty, we can get back to pursuing God. We can then truly claim that “The Joy of the Lord is my Strength” (Nehemiah 8:10)

Discerning Reflection: What do I do when I am sad, when I question God? Do I pray and turn to Him or do I turn away from Him? Do I feel shame for having those thoughts? How can I quickly turn around from these thoughts and who do I need to be accountable with to help me?

Prayer: Lord help me seek after you in the good and the bad times, help me understand that I will have high and low points and to not despair but to trust that you have everything under control.

Hills and Valleys