I just finished reading a book that my sister Julie let me borrow. It's entitled Healing for Damaged Emotions and was written by David A. Seamands. As someone who struggles with depression at various times, I found this book to be really helpful in helping me understand what depression is and where it comes from. I also found it to be particularly freeing for those of us who sometimes feel that it isn't "right" for a Christian to be depressed. I won't go into the whole book here, but I do recommend this book for those who deal with their own depression or with depression in those they love.
The following is an excerpt from the book, which comes from the chapter entitled "Dealing with Depression." I have found all of these (especially #'s 1 and 3!) to be true in my own life. These are not simplified solutions for depression, but they are practical and good suggestions to remember when you are in the midst of it.
Suggestions from both Martin Luther and David A. Seamands on dealing with depression:
1. Avoid being alone. When you are depressed you don't want to be around people. You want to withdraw. But withdrawing means isolation, and isolation during depression means alienation. Force yourself to be with people. This is one of the major areas where you have a definite choice in your depression.
2. Seek help from others. During depression your perceptions change. A little hill becomes a great mountain. But real friends can help you see its true height in perspective. You can no more pull yourself out of depression than you get yourself out of quicksand by pulling at your own hair. Seek out people and situations which generate joy. Here again your choice is definitive.
3. Sing! Make music. This was the only cure for King Saul's moods of depression. The harmony and beauty of David's music lifted King Saul's spirit of depression (I Sam. 16:14-23).
4. Praise and give thanks. All the saints of the centuries agree on this one . . . When [a man] couldn't feel God's presence or really pray, he would thank God for the leaf on the tree or the beautiful wing of a bird. For simple, everyday things. In essence, Paul told Timothy: "Remember, and be thankful" (2 Tim. 1). To the Thessalonians he didn't say, "Feel thankful for everything," but, "In everything give thanks" (I Thess. 5:18).
5. Lean heavily on the power of God's Word. God can use any portion of the scriptures to minister to you during times of depression, but throughout the centuries His people have found the Psalms to be the most beneficial. This is because the psalmist is the one most familiar with and open to the whole range of depressive emotions . . .
6. Rest confidently in the presence of God's Spirit. The psalmist repeatedly affirmed the secret of deliverance from depression. He encouraged himself, "Hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance" (Psalm 42:5). It is the assurance of God's "countenance"--His face-- that is the guarantee of His personal presence.