“Let us pray that people who suffer from depression or burn-out will find support and a light that opens them up to life.” – Pope Francis
What is depression? First, let’s think about what it is not. Depression is not sadness, although it includes sadness. Sadness is normal and common. We all experience it from time to time when we lose a job, a pet or a loved one. Sadness comes and goes, lasts for a short time, and does not stop someone from enjoying a movie or a good meal. However, with depression, a trigger is not needed. Depression just exists. Depression permeates everything and exists even when someone has a great reason for joy such as a new job or the birth of a child. Depression engulfs the entire human existence including one’s body, mind and spirit, and many times includes a sense of negative self-worth and guilt. A mental health professional is needed to help determine if someone meets the criteria for depression. If the criteria are met, a licensed mental health professional can work to develop a treatment plan recognizing and including objectives related to one’s faith and prayer life. In addition, a licensed mental health professional may provide referrals to a doctor for medication support if needed.
The reality of suffering with depression is significant. More than 19 million persons in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in 2020. This represents 8% of the US adult population. The reality present today was also present in the times of the writing of the scriptures.
Where does depression show up in the scriptures? Job, David, Elijah, Jeramiah and Jonah all suffered with some of these men even asking God to take their lives. Jesus even anguished with deep despair over the reality of his situation. God offered support then and continues to offer support now through our own prayers and reflection on scripture verses. Many times, God’s encouragement appears in the Book of Psalms. Look to these when deep despair or depression is present:
- Psalm 40: 1-4: “The Lord…draws me up from the pit of destruction.”
- Psalm 34:18: “…the LORD hears and he rescues them from all their afflictions.”
- Psalm 9:10: ‘The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.”
For the month of November, Pope Francis’ prayer intentions recognize the burden of living with depression. He also speaks of the burden of mental health struggles and how to listen versus speaking when accompanying someone on their journey. I have included Pope Francis’s video message here:
So, let us join Pope Francis in his prayer intentions for November by incorporating into our own prayers, a prayer for those suffering with depression.
In closing, if you are experiencing a mental health crisis and are considering suicide, please immediately reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Hours: Available 24 hours. Languages: English, Spanish. 800-273-8255.
Remember our Mental Health Matters to God.
Author: Eileen Borski
National Certified Counselor
M.Ed. Clinical Mental Health Counseling