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When a Loved One Battles Depression

When a Loved One Battles Depression faithalongtheway

Depression.

It can be a silent struggle, one masked by fake smiles and happy Facebook posts.

It can be a dangerous, life-altering battle.

It is real and should not be ignored.

Right now, depression is an unwelcome guest in my family as my sister fights this demon every day.

Younger than me by 9 years, our bond as best friends is surprising, but she is the most real person I know. I love her heart, her witty sense of humor and sarcastic edge.  She keeps me in stiches while always bringing me back to God’s truth.

sister with hubby

But right now, she is broken and suffering with a depression larger than herself, and struggling at some points to make it through the day. As her family and faithful best friend, I’ve been on my knees for her while searching for ways to minister to her hurting heart.

Here’s what we as a family have been doing to to support her in this season of her life, and may these tips help you help a loved one in need.

Offer a safe place to talk without judgment.

As sisters and besties, we tell each other everything, even our darkest thoughts.  She was, though, very hesitant to share this battle with me.  To her, it was painful to admit that she didn’t have it all together and she thought that she failed herself and her family. Once she saw that we openly accept her as she is, depression and all, she started sharing more of her sorrow.  She is not afraid to call me on those ‘dark days’ and is even starting to ask for help. Our family respects that depression is a real illness and don’t take it lightly. We believe in creating a safe place where she can share her heart and know that she is loved.

On hard days, check in often.

Last week she had some dark days;  days that threatened to consume and where she listened to the evil one whisper lies of untruth.  She felt unworthy of her family.  She felt that she was a failure.  She felt she had no purpose.  She felt that she couldn’t do life anymore.  Those days filled me with fear and I touched base with her often.  Sometimes I would find her in tears, drowning in the mundane of the everyday, unable to go on as she usually does.  Sometimes, I would find her managing and juggling life just fine.  Either way, on those dark days, don’t be afraid to be a little intrusive and keep in touch as a life line of support.

sister with baby

Encourage your loved one to get help.

Asking for help is the first step towards healing.  I’m thankful that she was willing to go to counseling without much convincing. Even with a solid biblical counselor, she is realizing that she needs more extensive help. After the tough times last week, she is considering medicinal support or using Essential Oils.  My sweet friend, Stephanie, swears by Essential Oils and would love to answer your questions about Essential Oils. You can visit her Do Terra site here and pick her brain about which Essential Oils are right for you!

 Find ways to alleviate tasks that overwhelm and are triggers.

Being a servant for someone who struggles with depression is exactly what Jesus what do.  He would love them, encourage them and roll up his sleeves to get his hands dirty.  Depression can paralyze someone, like my sweet sister, and as the body of Christ, we need to take action.  Dive into servant hood by cleaning their house, babysitting their kids, running errands, cooking dinner, etc….  When a chore is checked off a to-do list, that’s one less item that threatens to overwhelm someone struggling with depression.

Encourage him/her to make a list of truths for when those difficult moments come.

I am a firm believer in making a “list of truths” so when I am unable to distinguish between God’s truth and the lies of the evil one, I have something tangible at my fingertips to remind me of God’s promises.  {You can see my list of truths here}.  I encouraged my sister to do the same and hers has statements such as these:

God is faithful to bring me peace and strength to face these hard moments.

Jesus died on the cross to free me from the chains of depression and fear.

God has a beautiful plan for my life.

God will be faithful to reveal his plan for me and show me the path to take.

God promised he will never leave me or forsake me.

Depression is only a season and does not define me.

Remind him/her that even in depression, there are still consequences and every person is still accountable for his/her actions.

Actions have consequences, despite being in a season of pain and suffering. In the fog of depression, sometimes thoughts are not rational or grounded in truth.  Beware of actions that have life-long detrimental consequences.

Encourage him/her to make a plan of healing, and take steps that will help him/her feel better.

My sisters healing plan includes: exercise, counseling, reading her Bible, prayer, talking with loved ones, doing one thing for herself everyday, and doing one thing to take care of her house everyday.  When she is having a dark day, she has options which help her cope a little more. This plan of healing may help alleviate stress or triggers of her anxiety and help her find balance a mist chaos.

sister with wagon

Pray, pray, pray

I am on my knees for my sister, sometimes literally.  I pray for her throughout the day, recognizing that God’s peace can break through any darkness she has and can use this season for his glory. I point her to the Word of God in moments of true sorrow and love to share 7 Bible Verses for the Hurting Heart with her.  Just as she needs to trust God, so I need to lay her brokenness before the Lord, remembering to trust in his perfect love for her.

Who do you know has or is currently battling depression?  What are ways that you have ministered to a loved one struggling with this season of life?  May these tips help you help a loved one who is hurting and in need of extra TLC.

About Sarah Ann

Sarah Ann is a perfectly imperfect wife and mother, and is thankful for the saving grace of the Lord. When she’s not busy folding yet another load of laundry or comforting a crying child, she enjoys studying God’s Word, writing, and spending time with authentic friends. She's passionate about equipping women to live with intentional faith, family, home, and habits at Proverbs31Mentor.com. Join her for biblical encouragement and practical lifestyle tips to help you live on mission for the glory of God.

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24 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing these encouraging tips. It’s always hard when a loved one suffers with depression. It can be especially hard when you don’t know how to help. Thankful we can turn to the One who knows all and join Him in prayer for our loved ones.

    Visiting from Juana’s ‘prayer girl’s’ link-up.
    Cathy recently posted…Nature’s SketchbookMy Profile

    1. Thanks for stopping by! It is so hard to help one in this stage of life and prayer is the perfect way to encourage them!

  2. Thank you so much for this post! I have a dear friend who battles depression and often feels very alienated and hurt by others because she tends to pull away. I just love on her and pray for her. I listen and offer encouragement as best I can. This post is helpful in how I see and help her. Thank you so much for talking about this important issue.
    Heather @ My Overflowing Cup recently posted…Weary From The RaceMy Profile

    1. Thanks so much and I glad this can help in some small way. I’m praying for her {and you!} as she is on this journey!

  3. How beautiful of a heart you have. Shepherding women in pain has always had a spot in my heart. My dear friend SUFFERS from depression as well. As a strong Christian and Pastor’s wife, Satan has his eyes on her. Your dear sister has that in common with her–she must be meant for great things in the Kingdom to be targeted so much.
    My biggest tip (that you didn’t cover), is to never give up. I see families that think “this is just getting old.” They don’t understand when the hurting individual can’t get better. Depression is a disease, and a continual attack. It can last a long long time–if you decide to be with someone during this time, vow to be in it for the long haul.
    Many blessings to you and your sister.
    Deborah
    Deborah recently posted…What is Samhain? (Halloween)My Profile

    1. You are so sweet for sharing! Your encouragement means so very much to me! Happy weekend!

    1. Thank you, Deb for your encouragement! I’m blessed to have you praying for her! God bless!

  4. It truly is too easy to hide these feelings and to feel shame. You are being a great sister and helping her fight.
    I love the part about how Jesus would roll up His sleeves and help. We need to be more like that and less afraid of how our obtrusiveness will be perceived!
    Sarah Donegan recently posted…Intentional Spending: A Family AffairMy Profile

    1. Absolutely! Maybe it’s because I’m her sister, but I don’t mind barging it a bit or overstepping my bounds! As long as she is safe, I’m fine with being a nuisance!

  5. I waged a battle with depression for much of my adult life. Even now I am not sure why it has left me, I just thank God that it has. One of my worst periods was when I was expecting my son. I was seeing a special ob/gyn in addition to my regular one, so sometimes I would be in the presence of two medical doctors in the same week and yet I could not open my mouth to ask for help. I never did take that step until sometime during his first year of life. In my case, medication was helpful to get through the worst time. Once I had my equilibrium back, I discontinued taking it. However I did have to try more than one to find something that worked well for me. Your sister is very blessed to have you praying for her. I hope the cloud lifts for her very soon.
    Kim recently posted…Book Price Slashed + My “Brilliant” Career as a WriterMy Profile

    1. Thank you for opening up about your struggle! It’s amazing how suddenly your depression left you. What a testimony to the healing power of the Lord. Thank you so much for praying for my sister. It means so much to us!

  6. Beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing! Your idea about listing truths reminds me of one of my favorite quotes: “Don’t forget in the darkness what you learned in the light.” (Joseph Bayly)
    These words were most powerful to me: “Once she saw that we openly accept her as she is, depression and all…” I’m a counselor and usually getting family past blame and denial is the hardest part of the healing process. You are blessing so many families with this post, Sarah. May God continue to bless your sister and your family as you walk into divine healing!

    Be blessed~*

    1. Thank you SO much for encouraging our hearts with your kind words! I love that from a counselor standpoint, we seem to be helping her heal and are not totally botching it! (Seriously, sometimes I wonder if I am failing in this department!) I truly appreciate your support and that fabulous quote you shared!

  7. Wonderful post! “masked by fake smiles and happy Facebook posts” this is so true! God bless you and your sister.
    Chantale recently posted…Feel Good FridayMy Profile

  8. This is so true. Being there for someone who is struggling with depression isn’t always easy. It can be exhausting. But, they need us. They need you. They are fighting a dark battle and need to know that someone is there that cares and hasn’t given up on them They need that light of hope in their lives. Sometimes, just being there is the most important thing you can do. Thank you for sharing your story here. I will pray for your sister.
    Elizabeth recently posted…We Talk of ChristMy Profile

    1. Elizabeth,

      I totally agree! Sometimes just being there is ALL you can do until the darkness lifts a little and they are thinking clearly. Thank you so much for your prayers!

  9. Sarah Ann – I love what you have written here. I am in the midst of writing a series on depression from the perspective of the one who has gone through deep depression – the things you mention here, to help your sister, are wonderful and life giving. She is blessed to have such a caring sister walking with her during this time. I pray continued healing for her and continued wisdom and strength for you as you support her in this season. Blessings ~Victoria

    1. Victoria,

      Thank you for sharing! I will have to read your series and share it with my sister, so be sure to stop by and let me know when it is complete!

  10. Wow, I just stumbled upon this post, and my heart hurts for your sister. Battling depression as a young mom would be so hard. My prayers that she sees her worth in Christ and hope for her future.
    Kati Butler recently posted…Friday Fall Finds!My Profile

    1. Thank you, sweet friend! I so appreciate your prayers for her. She is on the road to recovery. 🙂

  11. Ex post…I see so many young women that come into our health office struggling with this. I just want to take them home, love them and tell them there is HOPE to be found in Jesus. Often nothing we can say, do or try to relate to can reach them. But there is no pit so deep that HIS hand is not deeper still. I was there years ago when we lost our home and finances after working so hard in our 32 years of marriage. It took time, but we pulled ourselves closer, drew closer and spent more time with Christ. He slowly led us, gave us wisdom and provided for our physical, emotional and most of all spiritual needs. Today we are spiritually stronger, emotionally on solid ground and physically know HE can do all things.
    It is such a blessing for the depressed person to know that genuine christian believers are calling their name out in prayer daily. To know that “true” believers, who have a genuine relationship with God are lifting their name to Him. THAT is the most precious thing we can do for them. Be blessed, JO

    1. AMEN! We have to be supportive, not judgemental, and come alongside to love and encourage!

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