I would like to talk about the symptoms of depression and suicidal thinking in the hope that if you or someone you love is suffering similar illness to know that we desire to reach out to you. Please do not go through the pain of depression alone. There are people standing by to come alongside you with the love of Jesus, compassion and professional training to assist you.
What is Depression?
Depression is an unhealthy state of conscious emotional suffering and guilt, accompanied by a marked decrease in the sense of personal value and a reduction of mental and physical activity. It is characterized by the following:
- Hopelessness, despair, sadness, apathy
- Loss of perspective
- Changes in physical activities and energy level
- Loss of self-esteem (feelings of worthlessness and little value)
- Withdrawal and desire to escape
- Oversensitivity and internalized anger
- Strong feelings of guilt (usually false guilt)
- Loss of interest in usual activities
- Poor concentration
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Depression can be caused by several factors including:
- Insufficient sleep
- Poor eating habits
- Biochemical heredity-constitutional factors
- Reactions to drugs
- Losses (e.g. death of a loved one; employment)
- Financial reversals
- A broken emotional relationship etc.
In most instances a person’s view of themselves is distorted. One feels unlovable, valueless, unforgiveable and unchangeable. They typically feel all alone in their struggle.
Helping a Depressed Person
In short there are four “R’s” that most professionals agree on to help a person suffering from depression:
- Rapport (develop and cultivate a friendship)
- Reassurance (give encouragement and hope)
- Revelation (help the person gain insight and understanding)
- Reorganization (modifying routine or circumstances)
The person suffering depression needs a supportive environment where they are accepted unconditionally. The depressed person in encouraged to “get moving”….do anything, (e.g. talk to someone, take a walk, clean a room in the house, do moderate exercise and select passages from Scripture for reading.) Here are a few examples:
- Book of Job (trials and testing)
- Psalms 18, 23, 34, 100, 103, 139 (David’s rejoicing)
- Romans 5:4-5 perseverance produces hope)
- Romans 12:1-3 (transformed by the renewing of the mind)
- Galatians 6:2 (bear one another’s burdens)
Remember, depression is one of the most common sources of human suffering. Depression can range from mild discouragement and downheartedness to feelings of utter hopelessness and despair. Among Christians there is the mistaken view that those who experience deep depression must be guilty of some sin. There are numerous examples in the scripture where leaders experienced depression including such notables as Job, Elijah and Jonah.
Am I Depressed?
If you find yourself with loss of appetite, lowered sex drive, insomnia and a life void of joy and this mood doesn’t lift by itself after just a few days you may be at risk of experiencing depression. Perhaps you have lost someone close to you, or lost a job, or prestige. The normal grief reaction will be from six months to two years during which time you may be experiencing guilt, worry, sadness, a negative self-image and sometimes even want to die.
Signs of Suicide Risk
Suicide is the 9th leading cause of death in the United States and firearms are the most common method and is the 3rd leading cause of death among young people. If you or someone you love appears to be at greater risk to commit suicide, please seek immediate professional help with a competent Christian counselor. The person may also need to see a psychiatrist or other medical person for medication to assist with the therapeutic process.
You may ask the person certain questions to try to assess the risk factors including:
- How long have you been feeling suicidal? (Longer presents more risk)
- What is the nature of the plan and means to take your life? (More specific is greater risk)
- What is motivating you to consider taking your life? (More specific plan is greater risk)
- Have you made final arrangements or written a note? (Greater risk)
- Have there been previous attempts? (If yes, greater risk)
- Have you experienced recent losses? (If yes, greater risk)
- Are you engaging in daily activities? (If no, greater risk)
- Are you depressed? (If yes, greater risk)
Please know that we at Emerge Counseling are available to you and your family as you may be experiencing depression or suicidal ideation. According to God’s Word, you are loveable, valuable, forgivable, changeable and never alone. It would be our joy to serve you in working through this difficult time in your life. For support, simply call 800-621-5207 or book an appointment.
Donald A. Lichi, PhD
Donald A. Lichi, PhD is a licensed psychologist and currently serves as the Vice President of Emerge Counseling Services.
Dr. Lichi is an adjunct professor with Trinity International University (IL), the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (AGTS), the Asia Theological Center (Singapore), and All Nations Theological Seminary (Malawi, Africa). He has been a speaker at numerous conferences and workshops on pastoral health, Christian education, parenting, marriage, and family issues. He has published several articles on Christian mental health, and is the co-author of the book, Broken Windows of the Soul (Moody Press). He serves on the pastoral teaching team of the Akron Chinese Christian Church and the board of Emmanuel Christian Academy, which ministers to “at risk” children in the inner city of Akron, OH.
Dr. Lichi was in private practice for over five years, taught school, and directed a school-based counseling program for six years. He also taught for six years in the graduate school at the University of Akron. While in the United States Air Force, he served for three years in Italy and three years in Alaska. Recent ministry has taken him to India, Brazil, Thailand, Ecuador, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Romania, China, Malaysia, Russia, Hungary, Nicaragua, and Singapore.
Best of all, he is married to Marcie and they have three adult children and seven grandchildren.