Here are eight guidelines for helping depressed Christians. In the video I cover the following points:

  1. Be prepared for it
  2. Don’t assume it is caused by a specific personal sin
  3. Check depth, width, and length of symptoms.
  4. Don’t rush to medication and don’t rule out medication
  5. Take holistic approach both to cause and cure
  6. Give hope
  7. Involve family & friends
  8. Re-establish spiritual disciplines

The books I mentioned are Dealing with Depression and Grace for the Afflicted.

Click here to view the video on Vimeo, and if you sign up for Vimeo (it’s free) you can also access the video file for downloading.

Any other advice you would give?

  • dik

    Just to say that on Vimeo it says video not available for download.

  • Lustus

    Any other advice you would give?

    Thanks David, for addressing an important but often ignored issue within the Body of Christ. As one who has suffered with a great deal of depression and suffered through the greater battle over what role my faith in Christ plays in it, I have several points for you to consider.

    To paraphrase Job, mentally ill I was when God opened my eyes to the truth of the Gospel and mentally ill I’ll be when God lets them sleep; may the name of the LORD be praised. The Gospel stands because Christ wasn’t crazy!

    I have come to understand that I am not just a sick person, I’m a sick sinner. That means that no matter how sick I am, I still have a responsibility to seek sanctification in the way I cope. How I cope with my disorder impacts the Body of Christ and His reputation. Allow me to share a favorite quote:

    “Happiness is not the point of life, but rather serving God and others. Suffering gives me an opportunity to teach others in the community how to live well. I should try to face my death in a way that increases my influence on others, allows me to teach them by my example how to face life’s various hardships, and give them hope and courage. When I am trying to decide what to do in a painful situation, my consideration should not be simply to try to avoid pain. I should also try to consider the opportunity pain gives to grow, teach others, trust God, and model a concern for virtue to others. And I should also remember that the way I die will leave behind a good or bad model, and I will be rewarded in heaven for this final act of service.” — from Immortality : the other side of death by Gary R. Habermas and J.P. Moreland

    Finally, let me commend you for noting that we should use every means of Grace to bring peace into our turmoil. Chris Rosebrough of Pirate Christian Radio also makes some similarly wonderful points regarding how we can “look to our baptism” as a means of sovereign grace in his response to a listener e-mail near the beginning of this podcast, “William Young, Author of The Shack, Outright Denies the Penal Substitutionary Atonement“.

    Thanks again for this video.

    You will keep in perfect peace the mind [that is] dependent [on You], for it is trusting in You. ~ Isaiah 26:3 (HCSB)

  • Pingback: Puritan Pod: Depression

  • Rodney Gynther

    What language is he speaking?

  • Sarah

    Glad to see number 2 on this list. This point was driven home to me by the author of a book called a Delicate Fade. He experienced depression as a missionary kid but found little understanding growing up.

  • Donald

    Lustus, I think I understand the point you are making about teaching others through our pain. I do however suggest that, for many depressed people, the idea that they should be teachers in the midst of their pain is a weight and a pressure which many will not be able to bear. I certainly could not when I was profoundly depressed as a Christian. I could not even face other Christians let alone be thinking of myself as an example to them. I may have been, I may not have been, but I know that the thought that I should be teaching others may have been enough to prevent me even getting out of the door. Some care needs to be taken in generalising and applying such ideas and principles. Sure, universalise them if you must, but also universalise the fact that depressed people may not be able to cope with such an expectation, and that that, in a sense, is okay, because when you are depressed you are not thinking right about yourself or the world around you, or maybe even God Himself. I thank God that we have a High Priest who is able to sympathise with our weaknesses.

    David, Thanks for a very helpful podcast. Much of it resonates with me and I think that many of the points you raise would have helped both myself and those around me during my own darker times. I thank God that in my experience he has brought light out of the darkness. God’s providence may have me return to that darkness one day but I hope that I, like my Saviour, may still cry My God, My God. But no matter how forsaken I may feel He will ever remain the God of covenant faithfulness. May we, by His grace, be given to remember that in our own valley experiences.

    • Lustus

      Donald, please forgive the delay in responding. I did not mean to imply that a person suffering from depression should or could pull himself or herself up by the bootstraps and claim victory. What I am suggesting is first: by confessing guilt and repenting of any sinful coping mechanisms (such as suicidal ideation, drug abuse or acting out)and second: by faithfully relying upon Christ Jesus for the righteousness that comes through forgiveness; then one has done all one need do. In other words, in addition to recognizing that one has a physiological illness which needs treatment, one should recognize that one also has a spiritual illness which is cured only by repenting and believing the Gospel. We do not have to be well to receive the Gospel!

      As for “teaching”, please see Your display of God’s righteousness.

      Thanks for the feedback.

      He said to them, “Why do you think this in your hearts? Which is easier to say to the sick man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your bed, and start to walk?’ I am doing this so you may know the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins.” He said to the sick man who could not move his body, “I say to you, ‘Get up. Take your bed and go to your home.’” ~ Mark 2:8b-11(NLV)

  • Donald


    When I first experienced depression as a Christian verses that were blessed to me were Romans 8:28,29 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
    To the depressed Christian I would say you are experiencing your trial because God loves you and knows what is ultimately best for you and what will in the end make you more like your Saviour. Those thoughts were comfort to me in the darkness. We must try and trust in God’s loving wisdom and the mercy in his perfect plan for our lives.

    • David Murray

      Thanks for these helpful comments, Donald.

  • Chrystie

    I really appreciated this video and your holistic approach toward causes and treatment. Very helpful video!

    • David Murray

      Thanks Chrystie. Glad you found it helpful.

  • Margo

    Thank you so much David for addressing this issue. I have been fighting depression for months now and have been ashamed feeling like it was because I was not in the Word enough or not a strong enough believer. When I would mention that I thought I was struggling with depression It would be pushed aside and I would be told to just keep putting Gods truth in my head and it would get better. I would be in the Word, filling my head with truth but the intense emotions(sadness, rage), the want to sleep constantly, the withdraw from people felt out of my control. I would pray and ask God to take this away. I would give it over to him but would still struggle and felt helpless. I am a very active person….I work full time, have 4 children, a husband, very involved in my church, bible studies and community outreach…….but I am fighting depression!!! I want my life to glorify God even while in this fight!

    • David Murray

      MArgo, I think you might benefit from my book “Christians get depressed too.” God has used that little book to help many Christians in your position. I pray you will be blessed by it.

  • Gemma

    Thank you for such an encouraging video. I agree with the points that you’ve raised and methods to help a person with depression. I’m presently helping to encourage a friend who is struggling with depression and to be available to pray with her and point her towards the character of God.

    However, I am also struggling with depression that has lasted for over 2 years now. I feel like such a different person to who I used to be. I suffered emotional abuse from my father and sexual assault from a man in the church when I was young and these memories have made it difficult to trust God’s goodness in my heart. This has suddenly come over me. It began when I developed a crush on a man in church and I thought he liked me too, and then he decided he didn’t anymore. Such a simple disappointment that many people experience became difficult to deal with and I began to struggle with feelings of rejection. I know God loves me and is good, but my feelings don’t line up and I feel trapped in darkness. I have tried talking to friends in the church about this struggle in my childhood (not in detail, but to let them know I need support). I have found a number of friends in the church have cooled relationship with me and many that I haven’t told are no longer friendly towards me as I am no longer the happy-go-lucky person I used to be. I’m struggling to stay in the church. I love God and honestly, my relationship is close to Him in this darkness, but I do feel abandoned by others in Christ. I’m unsure what to do.

    • David Murray

      Gemma: I’m very, very sorry to hear of your suffering on so many levels. Do you have a pastor you could trust with your story? I’d like to help you myself, but you really need someone on the ground present with you to walk with you through this. If you could tell me the area you live in I might be able to point you to a counselor.

  • Gemma

    Thank you very much for your support and this blog.

    We have a very wise and Christ-following minister that I am able to speak to. I’m trying to work up the courage to do so. I have spoken to an older lady in our church who offered prayer and support, which has been good. The biggest factor that has helped me is to keep crying out to God and seeking refuge in His promises. No person can heal me, only God can be that refuge (though he may use people to provide comfort). For anyone else experiencing this, I have found that disciplined prayer and bible reading (holding on to Gods promises) is essential. Even if your prayer is just ‘please be with me God’ which mine often is.

    I think there is work to be done in the church in terms of understanding depression. Particularly ongoing depression, where the darkness remains despite prayer. I know I have felt like a spiritual failure for not overcoming this. I also know what God has taught me in this darkness and how valuable it is. I have experienced hopefulness in the last couple of weeks and I’m holding on to it tightly. I know in my head that God will bring me through at some point.

    • David Murray

      May God give you the needed courage, Gemma. I love everything you write here and share your hopes and prayers for the church to grow in understanding of this complicated suffering.

  • Pingback: Recommended Links « Gospel Life Baptist Church