"Come to me, allyou who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28)

Depression

thomas-hafeneth-244903According to the Black Dog Institute, depression is an epidemic of modern life. Consider these startling statistics:

  • 1 in 5 people will experience depression in their lifetime, and over 50% of them will not seek treatment.
  • This year alone 1 million people in Australia will experience a depressive illness.
  • Depression is the third largest individual heath problem in Australia after heart disease and stroke.
  • In the work place depression accounts for six million working days lost each year.

Depression can affect people of any age. There are many causes of depression. Some forms of depression are caused by chemical imbalances in our brains. Other forms of depression are associated with different stages of life. Some depression is an effect of illness or a result of stress in our lives. It is really important that we seek good medical assessment and treatment for depression.

One common form of depression is that of a reaction to a loss. We all face many losses in life. There are the obvious ones like the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job or the loss of a marriage. However, there are other sorts of losses associated with these losses that can result in depression.

It may be that when we lost a loved one or a marriage failed, we also lost that sense of how we fit into life. Our role, our expectations of what life would look like and our hopes for the future are suddenly dashed. We feel at a loss and don’t know who we are any more. Perhaps it is that the children have left home, or we have retired and don’t feel our role is valued any more. There is a grief that takes place that can be very debilitating for many people.

Jesus teaches us that he cares deeply for us even in the times when life looks the bleakest. He says “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). He doesn’t tell us to come back when we are feeling better. He wants to help us deal with those things that weigh us down now. His answer is not found in doing more activity but finding true rest in him.

Sometimes when we are concerned about people who are struggling with depression, we try to ‘fix’ them or help them ‘snap out of it’. We need to encourage them to get help for their depression, but we also need to reassure them of a God who loves them and will be with them through their difficult time. We also need to love and support them with God’s strength and to remember to turn to him for help as we care for our friend or family member. He wants to bear the carers’ burden as well.

Mary Andrews College offers units that help people learn about how to care for people in different difficult circumstances. For more information about benefitting from one of our pastoral care units please click here.