Depression affects pastors too

Depression affects people in different ways and not everyone will experience the same symptoms.

Jina Kim, MPH, is wellness program coordinator, Adventist Risk Management, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States.

It is no secret that happiness is a choice. When you wake up in the morning, does your mind tell you, “I choose to be happy today”? To achieve happiness, negative emotions, such as fear, anxiety, sadness, and depression, need to be faced and turned around to a positive experience by coming to terms with them, learning from them, and moving on.

Count your blessings. Give thanks for what you have. Cultivate the attitude of gratitude. Learn to appreciate the people and things around you, from your family and friends to the smell of spring and nature, or simply that you are alive and, particularly, if you are well.

Take time for activities that enhance your mood. Get pampered; do something special for yourself; take care of your health by eating right and exercising. Mentoring young people and volunteering also creates feelings of well-being and adds meaning to life, as well as blessing others.

Laugh. “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Prov. 17:22, NIV). Laughter is good medicine. Spend time with positive people and laugh a lot. Laugh at your mistakes and get over them. Twenty seconds of heavy laughter equals three minutes of hard rowing and will burn up to 400 calories per hour.1

State of mind versus status. Failing is not catastrophic unless you allow it to be. Many successful people learn from their failures and succeed beyond their first attempts. Focus on the positive. Step out of your comfort zone and be an optimist!

Depression, a common mental disorder, affects 121 million people worldwide.2 Some of the signs and symptoms include the following:

• Irritable or anxious mood

• Poor appetite and weight loss or the opposite—increased appetite and weight gain

• Sleep disturbance: insomnia or sleeping too much in an irregular pattern (difficulty in waking or not wanting to get out of bed to face the day)

• Loss of energy: excessive fatigue or tiredness

• Change in activity level: extremes of either increased or decreased activity

• Loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities

• Decreased sexual drive

• Physical aches and pains with no significant organic cause

• Crying spells for no apparent reason

• Diminished ability to think or concentrate

• Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt that may reach grossly unreasonable or delusional proportions

• Other psychotic and delusional thinking

• Recurrent thoughts of death, dying, or self-harm3

Depression affects people in different ways and not everyone will experience the same symptoms.

Often people with depression may seem normal, so you might be oblivious to their pain as you pass by. Many people with depression may be reluctant to accept or even ask for the help they need. These symptoms may not go away on their own and could get worse if they are not treated.4

Matt Rogers discusses depressed people in the church setting in a blog and describes this by saying, “Depressed people in the church often feel isolated, as if no one in the world understands their pain. Quite often they also feel spiritually weak, or even sinful, for their lack of joy. And perhaps most tragically, few have any clue what great company they are in.”5

God gives renewed strength. Isaiah 40:29 states, “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak” (NIV). Some people in history and in the Bible have been affected by depressive conditions and disorders. We can be assured that God uses us even in our weaknesses.

When we are depressed, we can turn to and have hope in the Lord. “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:13, NKJV).

If you are reluctant to seek treatment, talk to a friend, faith leader, health professional, or someone that you trust.

The World Health Organization states that “[d]epression can be reliably diagnosed in primary care. Antidepressant medications and brief, structured forms of psychotherapy are effective for 60-80% of those affected and can be delivered in primary care. However, fewer than 25% of those affected (in some countries fewer than 10%) receive such treatments. Barriers to effective care include the lack of resources, lack of trained providers, and the social stigma associated with mental disorders including depression.”6

Depression may be reversed. However, when your depression starts to become chronic or recurrent, remember the importance of receiving the help you need. Major depression, a serious disorder, is something you cannot “snap out of” or get over on your own. Although no exact known cause for depression exists, certain factors, such as some life events (i.e., death of a loved one), hormonal changes, neurotransmitters, genetics (heredity), and childhood trauma, may contribute to the illness.7 Appropriate medication is often lifesaving and life changing, and should be taken when needed and on professional advice. Counseling and psychotherapy from Christian psychiatric and psychology health professionals can be very beneficial and can make a difference.

Take care of yourself and follow a healthy lifestyle. Eat a healthy and balanced diet, take a walk or participate in a favorite exercise, reduce and manage your stress, meditate upon God’s healing words, and get adequate sleep. Surround and connect yourself with friends and family so that you will not be isolated.


1 “Laugh Your Way to Wellness With Yoga Trend,” ScienceDaily, accessed September 8, 2010, http://www.

2 “World Health Organization: Depression,” World Health Organization, accessed August 25, 2010,

3 Demitri Papolos and Janice Papolos, Overcoming Depression: The Definitive Resource for Patients and Families Who Live With Depression and Manic-Depression, 3rd ed. (New York: HarperCollins, 1997), 8.

4 Mayo Clinic staff, “Depression (Major Depression),” accessed September 8, 2010,

5 Matt Rogers, “Coping With Depression in the Church With Matt Rogers–Part IV,” JR Woodward (blog), August 21, 2009,

6 “World Health Organization: Depression,” World Health Organization, accessed August 25, 2010.

7 Mayo Clinic staff, “Depression (Major Depression),” accessed September 8, 2010,


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Jina Kim, MPH, is wellness program coordinator, Adventist Risk Management, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States.

November 2010

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