Helping Hurting People: Depression


“I just feel sad all the time now. I’ve gained weight. I have a hard time sleeping. I don’t even want to do things that I used to find enjoyable. I just don’t feel like myself anymore.”

Getting Perspective

Depression is feelings of dejection and hopelessness that lasts for two weeks or more. People with depression often experience changes in their eating and sleeping habits, agitation, irritability, and restlessness. They find little pleasure in activities they once enjoyed.

Clinical depression often lasts about eight months. Of those that have depression, seventy percent will have more than one episode before adulthood. Fifteen percent develop bipolar disorder.

Depression comes in a variety of contexts due to confounding factors:

  • Biological factors: There is evidence that some people can inherit a predisposition to depression.
  • Experiential factors: Life experiences do not cause depression, but they can increase the risk of depression.
  • Social factors: Some teens present with symptoms of depression because they feel that they receive more special attention.
  • Learned helplessness: A significant component of depression is a perceived lack of control. They feel that no matter how hard they try, nothing will change.
  • Negative thinking: Faulty thinking, particularly related to expectations, can convince a teen that they are worthless.
  • Spiritual factors: Some teens experience symptoms of depression due to unconfessed, hidden sin.

Less than thirty percent of people seek professional help. Untreated depression increases the risk of other problems:

  • Substance abuse
  • Relationship problems
  • Trouble with school and work
  • Risky sexual behaviors, sexually transmitted diseases
  • Physical illnesses
  • Suicide

Biblical Insights

“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.” (Psalm 43:5)

“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

Action Steps

  • Look for the signs. Get involved in the lives of those around you. Have regular dialogue to see how things are going. If you have concerns about depression, talk with trusted friends and supportive adults to confirm concerns.
  • If concerns persist, seek help from a professional counselor. Professional treatment for depression most often includes outpatient counseling and medication.

Andrew Graham
Andrew Graham
Dr. Andrew Graham is a licensed mental health counselor, nationally certified counselor, and board-certified professional Christian counselor providing professional counseling and consulting from a Christian perspective. He serves as Associate Professor of Counseling at Spring Arbor University and as an adjunct faculty member in God's Bible School and College's Graduate Program. Dr. Graham and his wife Lisa live in Hobe Sound, Florida with their eight children.