A Christian counselor’s look at 4 practical, biblical things Christian moms can do to control depression and sadness.
How can a Christian mom control depression?
Emotions are hard.
Sadness and depression are a reality for SO MANY Christian moms. And these hard emotions can make it really difficult to enjoy family life.
So join me today to deep dive into these emotions.
Ever wonder how to get past a season of sadness in your life? Find yourself questioning if God is really there for you as you try to figure out how to control depression?
Today’s conversation is for you.
We’ll find out what sadness and depression really look like, why these emotions still happen even for Christian moms, and most importantly: 4 practical, biblical things you can do to help.
And if you want to dive into God’s Word on your own, grab my free Bible study printable to walk through 5 Bible passages for depression.
Ready? Let’s dive in.
[This post may contain affiliate links. If a purchase is made, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.]
Your emotions matter
Here at Love Your People Well, we are all about ENJOYING Christian family life. And learning how to manage your emotions is a key part of that!
Your relationships will only be as deep and meaningful as your emotional control allows. Hard emotions are a normal part of life, but we all have to learn how to manage them!
And one of the hardest to manage is depression.
Of course, “depression” can mean a lot of things to different people. So we’ll take a look at what sadness or depression might look like for you, why it’s happening, and then – most importantly – what to do about it. So you can get back to loving your people and enjoying life!
What sadness and depression look like
Let me get the out of the way at the beginning: I am a licensed counselor. It is a regular thing for me to sit down with a Christian mom who is feeling sad, overwhelmed, or depressed. (But, of course, this blogpost is not therapy or professional advice – as always, see my disclaimer statement!)
So I know that plenty of Christian moms are struggling with depression.
That might be you, or it might not! Sadness can feel really overwhelming, even if it doesn’t hit that higher level of severity that might take you to a professional counselor.
If you are struggling with severe depression, seek help. Find a counselor. If you’re in the USA, call 9-8-8 for mental health support. Don’t try to deal with it alone.
And for all of us, some of these symptoms should be a “red flag” that tell us we need to pay attention to our emotions and do something about them:
- Feeling sad more often than not
- Losing interest in things you used to care about
- Physical exhaustion or lack of energy that feels bigger than usual
- Negative thoughts, perhaps even including thoughts like “everyone would be better off if I wasn’t even here.”
- Feeling worthless or hopeless
- Anger outbursts toward yourself or others
- Anxiety, especially if it doesn’t make sense in the current situation
- Trouble sleeping, either falling asleep, staying asleep, or even sleeping too much
- Having trouble concentrating and focusing
Why do Christian moms struggle with sadness?
Last week, we took at look at 10 reasons why we struggle with hard emotions. There are some very normal reasons for struggling with emotional control!
But these 4 reasons have a particular influence on feeling sad or struggling with how to control depression.
- Brokenness in our bodies – sometimes, we have a chemical imbalance or hormone problems that impact how we feel
- Listening to lies from the Enemy and the world – thoughts like “you aren’t enough” or “you should be happier”
- Relationship struggles or life struggles will always impact our hearts
- Weak spiritual habits or getting disconnected with your faith community
If you’re struggling in any of these areas, you are not alone!
That’s why we need some practical steps to figure out how to control depression. And thankfully, the Bible gives us very clear action steps – which modern research also shows are effective!
Grab your free Bible study printable to walk through 5 encouraging Bible verses for depression, and keep reading for 4 practical steps the Bible gives us for what to DO about this tough emotion!
How your sadness is impacting your Christian family relationships
Before we look at the 4 action steps that will help you control depression and sadness, it might help to give a little motivation.
Because let’s be honest – sometimes it feels good to wallow in our emotions.
Especially if you are fighting a stronger level of depression, it can be really tough to motivate ourselves to do something about it. Even getting out of bed can be a challenge.
So, take a moment and reflect on how your sadness is impacting your Christian family. These 3 realities are important to remember!
- When you’re sad and overwhelmed, you will struggle with everyday tasks. You’re a lot more likely to overreact to things, get distracted or frustrated easily, and overall feel discouraged… which your people will feel too.
- Your marriage will struggle. When you’re feeling sad or depression, communication and intimacy in a Christian marriage are really tough. It is likely that your husband will feel neglected, confused, or blamed.
- Also, your children will struggle. Even if you don’t talk to them about your emotional troubles, they will feel it in the atmosphere of the home. Many kids feel overwhelmed, confused, guilty, or angry when their mom is struggling with depression.
4 action steps for how to control depression
Even though emotions can be overwhelming and difficult, God has a good plan for us in how to manage them.
Of course, different emotional struggles call for different action steps. (Although pretty much every action step will help every emotion… some just target specific emotions more powerfully.)
When you’re dealing with depression and sadness, one great place to start is in the psalms. Psalms 42 and 43 give a very helpful and practical guide to dealing with these hard emotions.
But my favorite big action steps come from 1 Kings 19.
That’s right, let’s turn to the Old Testament!
First, let’s get some background on this chapter of the Bible.
In this chapter, the prophet Elijah has just finished a big show-down with the false prophets who were hurting the Israelite people. God showed his power in a big way, bringing fire down from heaven to show everyone that He is the only true God. The people were amazed.
And then, the people started threatening Elijah.
So, he ran away… and started a conversation with God about his feelings of overwhelm, sadness, and depression. In fact, he tells God: “I have had enough, LORD… take my life.”
And that’s where we see God respond with 4 clear action steps for what to do about it.
1. Be intentional with your physical health.
As soon as Elijah expresses his depression to God, there is a response. And that first, immediate response comes in the form of caring for Elijah’s physical health.
Elijah sleeps, eats, sleeps again, and eats again (verses 5-8).
There can be no question that Elijah is struggling with a moment of depression. He had an exciting experience of God’s power and presence (chapter 18) followed by running for his life and telling God that it would be better for God to let him die.
God does not yell at Elijah for these thoughts and feelings. He does not laugh at him, tell him to try harder, or expect him to get it all together on his own.
Instead, God cares for Elijah’s physical needs.
He allows him to sleep. He sends an angel to provide food and nourishment.
And you must do the same. When you are feeling sad, depressed, or overwhelmed, make sure to be intentional with your physical health. Eat healthy meals, get enough sleep, drink water, and try to take care of yourself.
2. Seek God.
After God provides for Elijah’s physical needs, Elijah takes a journey to Horeb, the mountain of God. He pours out his complaint to God (verse 10).
Once again, God does not respond to Elijah’s complaints with a lecture or with criticism. Instead, God tells him to come closer. He tells Elijah to go to a specific place so that God’s presence can pass before him.
That is the exact opposite of what we might think God is going to do! When Elijah is depressed and complaining, God seeks to come closer to him.
And when God does pass before him, He does it gentle. With loving kindness. There is a powerful wind, an earthquake, and a fire. But then comes a “gentle whisper” – and God is there in the gentle whisper.
When you are wondering how to control depression, are you seeking God? His presence is the cure for all of our struggles. His loving kindness is always waiting for us.
You can start to manage these emotions by seeking God. Try my free Holy Habits 45-Day Bible and Prayer Challenge if you need help getting started with a daily routine of reading the Bible and praying. And then if you want to go deeper, try the Finding Your Identity in Christ devotional workbook.
3. Challenge your negative thinking.
In addition to caring for your physical health and seeking God, another action step that will help you control depression is to start challenging your negative thinking.
When Elijah complains to God, he is expressing the negative thoughts inside his own head. And the thing is – they aren’t true!
In verses 10 and 14, Elijah complains to God that he is the only one still following God. He outlines how all of Israel has rejected God and focuses on his own faithful commitment to God.
God does not respond by congratulating Elijah on his faithfulness. He does not offer agreement or validation of what Elijah thinks is true. But, neither does God criticize him for being wrong.
Instead, God corrects him gently. He tells Elijah to go find Elisha to help him in his ministry, and points out that there are 7,000 others in Israel who have also remained faithful to God.
When you are feeling sad or depressed, it will help to change your thought patterns. There are negative, unhelpful, sometimes untrue thoughts that drag down our hearts. So question those thoughts! Hit the pause button, evaluate what you’re thinking about, and challenge any negative or unhelpful thoughts.
4. Seek fellowship, companionship, and relationship with other people.
After God has cared for and comforted Elijah himself, He tells Elijah to get friends to help him. In fact, God is very specific. He tells Elijah who to go to, where he’ll find him, and how to go about bringing this person in to help with his ministry.
God does not want you to go through life alone.
It might be your husband or friends who can come alongside you to help during a season of sadness. Sometimes, it might be a pastor or even a professional counselor.
But whomever it is that God puts in front of you, reach out! Seek relationship with other people. This is really helpful for getting outside of your own box of despair and building hope and encouragement into your daily life.
Listen to Episode #131
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Disclaimers: I am a licensed therapist but my podcast, blog, and resources are not professional or personal advice. I am an affiliate for many of the resources that I link to, and may earn a small commission if you purchase through my link. Read my full disclaimer here.