Naturally Battling Depression

I have suffered from depression through various periods of my life, unfortunately as it seems to run in my family, but most recently during my extensive bought of 1 1/2 years with insomnia. I was extremely tired, weary, lazy, and unmotivated. You would often find me lingering in bed in the morning after a pitiful nights rest and desirous of doing nothing else but staying in my jammies all day and watching movies. I felt a darkness hovering over my spirit. A sick feeling in my gut that did not want to let go. Depression went hand in hand with fear and worry about the inability to sleep. Where can we find deliverance and freedom from these feelings?

Cling to the Savior

During periods of depression, there is little to no desire to read the Word or prayer. We are just trying to cope and find little strength there. But we must be persistent. We must wait on the Lord.  “But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” This what Isaiah 40:31 promises the faithful, the persistent. Don’t give up even though strength might seem miles away. Press on to know the Lord in your deepest periods of darkness.

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me (Psalms 23:4).” This is your true, enduring, and faithful life-line. You will see a light at the end of the tunnel. God does not give more than we can bear (1 Cor. 10:13).

And don’t forget to preach the gospel truth to your soul. Proclaim it from the housetops. Sing and worship with your voice. There is much refreshment and healing as we take our eyes of ourselves and focus on the beauty of our Lord. Read Romans 8:35-39 – no one can separate you from the love of Christ. I often clung to repeating out loud, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” (Psalms 43:5).

Cultivate Thankfulness

It is easy for our eyes to focus on the depressing thoughts and events that surround us and lose sight of the little blessings. Count your blessings. Record them. What gifts has the Lord bestowed on you today? Adopt the recording 1000 gifts challenge and see God transform your thoughts and understanding. It can be the hardest thing to start. But in cultivating gratefulness there is further grace. Colossians 3:15 states, “And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.”

“The greatest thing is to give thanks for everything. He who has learned this knows what it means to live..He has penetrated the whole mystery of life: giving thanks for everything.” - Albert Schweitzer

Do the Next Thing

The worst culprit I found for feeding depression was to linger in bed in the morning or sack out on the couch too frequently throughout my day. This is not to say you shouldn’t rest, but guard against extended periods. Keeping yourself busy is an effective preventative against allowing your mind to wander into depressing thoughts. In these moments when I am struggling with fear, or simply the motivation to keep going, I like to read this poem:

“Many a questioning, many a fear,
Many a doubt, hath its quieting here.

Moment my moment, let down from Heaven,
Time, opportunity, guidance, are given.
Fear not tomorrows, Child of the King,
Trust them with Jesus, ‘DO THE NEXT THING.’
Do it immediately; do it with prayer;
Do it reliantly, casting all care;
Do it with reverence, tracing His Hand
Who placed it before thee with earnest command.
Stayed on Omnipotence, safe ’neath His wing,
Leave all resultings, ‘DO THE NEXT THING.’”
–author unknown

The simple step: do the next thing. This may be just getting out of bed and taking a shower. Or refreshing your soul by reading the word for 5 minutes. Or simply getting off the couch and changing that diaper. God’s grace is sufficient if we are willing to get up, change our attitude, and do the next thing.

Be in Fellowship

The easiest thing for those who struggle with depression is to hide themselves and avoid the company of others. I discovered that there is such healing in being open and honest with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Don’t try to hide it. This will only feed it more. Seek prayer. Seek support. Let others love on you. Take time to laugh with others. I found on many occasions that by just opening up and sharing my personal struggles, that I experienced release and freedom from the weight of it. We need the body of Christ. We need the support and fellowship of the body. This is one extension of God’s grace to us.

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” Colossians 3:16

Surrender

Ultimately, the place of deliverance and freedom for me has come from the place of surrender. I remembered Paul who graciously adopted his “thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor. 12:7) as the Lord’s means of purifying and maturing him in godliness. The Lord revealed to me that I had been striving for healing and restoration all in my own strength. Yes, I certainly had been crying out for mercy, and depending upon him daily for strength, but ultimately I was looking to the next natural remedy to give me sleep, to release me from depression. I tried every concoction and recommendation possible, offered through meaningful family, friends, herbalists, naturopaths and sleep specialists, and more often then not, they would simply get me more discouraged and depressed because of their uselessness.

I had to come to a place of surrender. If God wanted this to be my “thorn in the flesh” for the rest of my life, then I could choose to embrace that and walk in His joy and grace, or alternatively continue in this path of hopelessness. I knew that if I fully released my efforts, my striving for healing, and let go, there would be peace, whether I was restored or not. And I can testify to that amazing grace. God helped me experience freedom.

Natural Remedies

I have experienced various help from supplementing with these following remedies for helping keep my hormones and feelings in check. But ultimately, we cannot depend upon them for our hope. Our hope must be first and foremost in God alone.

Get Some Fresh Air

Try to get outside for some good exercise each day. Even if it’s just a quick 15 minute walk around the neighborhood while your little ones nap, you will find great refreshment for your soul. Get outside and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation.

Fish Oil

I have found supplementing my diet with cod liver oil or fish oil has been extremely helpful for balancing my hormones. I supplement with Nordic Naturals DHA oil and take two tablets daily. During pregnancy, I am taking Nordic Naturals Prenatal DHA because it has so many good benefits for healthy infant development in addition to mood and nerve support for mommy.

B Vitamins

B vitamins are essential for balancing your nervous system and stress levels. I take 1 tablet of Wild Harvest’s Stress Guard but any B multi-vitamin is very helpful for this. Dark green leafy vegetables are high in vitamin B as well. Green smoothies are an easy way of boosting these in your diet.

Flaxseeds

Flaxseeds are great hormone balancers with their high level of omega-3 fatty acids. Eat them raw, freshly ground in a coffee grinder, over oatmeal, yogurt, or various cereals, in smoothies, etc.

Develop a Peaceful Evening Routine

I have also found it helpful to establish a peaceful evening routine. I stopped getting on my computer or watching any possible intense movie (whether action packed or overly dramatic) that might get my mind going full speed or put my emotions in an upheaval. You just have to be guarded as to what you fill your mind with. Give yourself a good stretch of time to wind down from the day. Avoid staying up too late, as the best hours of sleep are between nine and midnight. Reading myself to sleep with a calm peaceful book, or simply the Psalms, has been most effective for cleaning out my mind and allowing it to rest from the days activities and get a better night’s rest.

Let me leave you with this quote:

“Therefore, depression, regardless of the causes, is a time to answer the deepest and most important of all questions: Whom will I trust? Whom will I worship?” - Ed Welch

Sometimes there will be no answer as to the reasons that you might be suffering from depression. Sometimes God doesn’t clearly define the why. Your struggles and solutions likely will be different from mine. But He does supply the grace to help us acknowledge where we can put our trust. And the only true and lasting foundation is the Lord Jesus. He is a solid rock upon which we can stand.

Additional Reading

For excellent spiritual encouragement on the topic of depression, I highly recommend Depression: A Spiritual Darkness by Ed Welch. For the life of me, I did not want to read this through my various bought of depression, but the Lord really convicted me again not to depend upon my own strength. I read it and found such encouragement!

Treating Depression Naturally by Keeper of the Home

Photo Credit

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of three, homemaker, and writer. She is the editor of Passionate Homemaking since its beginning five years ago. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

73 Responses to Naturally Battling Depression

  1. Termite inspection August 16, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

    Thanks for an informative blog. I’ve been searching for this type of information for quite a while now.

  2. Victoria January 18, 2012 at 10:08 pm #

    Yes, I’d have to agree that people who suffer from chronic depression need to get in to see a naturopath. There are many common conditions that cause chronic depression that are easily treatable–pyroluria, histadelia, vitamin deficiency, and hormone difficulties. Treatment is usually cheap and easy (compared to years of psychotherapy) and medication-free. Most treatments are safe for pregnancy and nursing too.

  3. Kara Lacelle January 18, 2012 at 3:12 pm #

    Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!!
    I have been batteling some serious “stomach related” health problems ever since the birth of my second son, and have spent the past 7 mo obsessing over it, and trying to find a cure. Lately I have felt like it has become an idol in my life and I didn’t really know what to do. But now I know…. it is time to SURRENDER Maybe I am not supposed to “find a cure”
    This was just what I needed to hear :)

  4. cns depressants October 16, 2011 at 9:49 am #

    Hello there, I discovered your blog via Google whilst looking for a similar subject, your web site got here up, it seems good. I have bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.

  5. Renee July 18, 2011 at 9:47 pm #

    Thanks for this wonderful post on depression. I am 52 years old and sure wish I’d learned all this at your age! I’ve had 4 depressions in my life – age 12, one after each baby, and one at 49 years old. Each one lasted about one year. I believe all had a huge hormonal component, but God had to teach me many things through it. I went 8 months during this last one only sleeping 90 minutes to 4 hours a night and I lost 30 pounds – unable to eat. No one knows the suffering that hasn’t been through it – it is nothing remotely like “feeling blue”. I learned exactly the same things you have – gratitude, doing the next thing, not analyzing the cause, but accepting it, finally “giving in” and letting God bring my joy back. The first three depressions the Lord brought me out of without drugs, but this last one, I had to go on an antidepressant – something I said I would NEVER do and fought for 8 months. My doctor said because of my drastic weight loss and not sleeping, I was in danger. The drug helped me eat and sleep – after I could eat and sleep, THEN I could get busy dealing with my wrong thinking. I will never judge those on medicine again – don’t get me wrong, I don’t recommend this but for the VERY FEW who are not eating and not sleeping – I do not think this is a good idea otherwise. Just going through a crisis, or a death is not enough to warrant medicine – sorrow is an unavoidable part of life. For example, when my mother died when I was only 40, I was in deep sorrow, but I didn’t go into depression and didn’t need medicine. I knew time would heal my grief. Anyway, thanks for the post and sharing what God taught you – another great book is “Spiritual Depression” by Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones – he teaches you to preach the gospel to yourself rather than to listen to yourself.

  6. Donna June 28, 2011 at 11:42 pm #

    Great post on this difficult subject. I have suffered off and on since my teens, and am now in my early thirties. I wholeheartedly agree that going outside is very helpful, as is mild exercise. It may seem like the hardest thing to do, but if you just force yourself and trust in God, it WILL help. Best of luck to all who are suffering; you are in my prayers.

  7. Lindsay Holm May 17, 2011 at 2:43 pm #

    I have been using TrueHope Empower Plus for my anxiety/depression. It has all the vitamins you need in it. It is an amazing product. It is a little pricey but it works! It is all natural, and I recommend it for sure!! http://www.truehope.com.

  8. Rebekah May 12, 2011 at 3:47 pm #

    Thank you for this EXCELLENT post on this topic. I was blessed by it through and through. I was wondering if you have an opinion on Flaxseeds vs. Flax Seed Oil. I have a hard time incorporating flax seeds into my diet, but am very faithful to take supplements if I know they will really help me. If you think Flax Seed Oil is a good alternative to the real deal, I’d love to hear which brand you’d recommend as well.

    • Lindsay May 13, 2011 at 12:16 pm #

      I use flax seeds simply because they are far cheaper and more readily available. With both you need to store in fridge or freezer because they go rancid very quickly. Ground flax seeds are easy to add to oatmeal, smoothies, baked goods, and the like. I found it easier to incorporate ground flax seeds into my diet over the liquid form as well…but price was the most significant factor.

  9. Emmah May 10, 2011 at 3:02 am #

    This is the most real web i have found so far. I am glad to know that i am normal, i have been struggling with insomnia and most of my friends don’t seem to understand….thank you for sharing, this is powerful! God Bless you big time….

    • Victoria May 12, 2011 at 4:19 pm #

      Insomnia is SUPER common–especially among moms!!

  10. Victoria May 5, 2011 at 1:34 am #

    I should also say that pyroluria may not affect people until they undergo a particularly stressful time in their life. I sometimes wonder if this is the true cause of postpartum depression, as it was in my case.

  11. Melissa April 13, 2011 at 7:22 pm #

    Thank you!
    I also read an amazing book called How to Win Over Depression by Tim LaHaye.
    very good!

  12. cynthia March 31, 2011 at 1:58 pm #

    I woke up last week feeling blue…i prayed a short prayer…gathering the kids togethor around my bed (they had already begun bickering). I prayed for them, that God would be with us and help us be more loving to one another. I prayed that God would use me for his purposes that day. I prayed and repeated the first scripture i memorized…psalms 143:8 let the morning bring me word of Your UNFailing Love for i have put my trust in YOU. Show me the way i should go for to you i lift up my soul !

    The babies dispersed…i set my focus on washing dishes (least favorite duty). After a few series of soaking and washing, someone knocked on the door. A few people passing by needed help. I told them my hubby was on his way home and to have a seat under the porch. I made lemonade and served them outside. I asked if they would like some eggs and chorizo…their faces said it all. I felt so good…being useful. Just thought i would share.

    • jkf April 1, 2011 at 6:54 am #

      that’s really inspiring! thank you for sharing! i’m curious…what do you mean by a few ppl passing by needed help? do you run some sort of clinic or other outreach? whatever it was… very beautiful “what so ever you do to the least of my people, that you do undo to Me.” :)

  13. Abigail March 28, 2011 at 11:17 am #

    Thank you for this post. I needed to read it today. I have been fighting a great battle since I’ve had my son, often giving in to lack of motivation to read scriptures and an aversion to fellowship (because it makes me face my own sin). I tend to not “do the next thing,” but I desparately need to… A lingering darkness occasionally rears its ugly head in the back of my mind, even though I know I should be joyful…
    Your scripture inclusions in this post have warmed my heart and reminded me of truth- my grounding for my soul in the gospel of Christ. He is my solid rock, my strong tower, my life, my sanctifier, and my peace. Thank you for stirring my soul to remember these truths today.
    That being said, I need to go do that next thing… a load of laundry, in my case. Off I go! :)

  14. L March 25, 2011 at 1:15 am #

    Hi Lindsay, I know many others have contributed advice and thoughts, but I live in Portland too and can relate, so I wanted to share a couple of things that have helped me.

    I am originally from the south east, but in the six(ish) years my husband and I have lived here, I have had a struggle with depression that got progressively worse each year. At first it was mainly in winter, but later it was year round, though typically worse in February or March. I had no idea it was actual depression until I went to Hawaii in February one year and felt like a different person in the sunshine. =) There is so much I could say (and I would love to get together and chat sometime if you’re interested) but mainly I want to say this – if you haven’t had your vitamin D and iron levels checked, do it asap!!

    Up until about a year and a half ago, I thought I was having spiritual struggles that needed to be dealt with between me and God (and yes – there were definitely spiritual issues involved – and I absolutely agree with your points about CLINGING to God, recognizing your helplessness to change apart from Christ, and how absolutely crucial authentic, grace-drenched relationships are). I knew I needed help, but I had no idea how much of my trouble was physical.

    Then, in God’s providence, I was referred to a naturopathic doctor (for unrelated reasons) who discovered my vitamin D was very low. Turns out low D is one of the leading causes of seasonal depression. Long story short, I recognized that this wasn’t just “in my head” and that I was struggling with actual depression. I began supplementing vitamin D in large doses (among other things) and I expect I will always need to be proactive about my health in this area in order to love and serve my family and be a good steward of the life God has given me. But now that I am feeling better, I realize how bad it had actually gotten. I am so thankful God showed me that I needed help physically, and that he provided it without a clinical diagnosis or drugs, though I no longer believe that they might not be helpful or even necessary in some cases.

    Other things that helped – working out! This makes a daily difference – if I work out in the morning, I am better THAT day (this motivates me to exercise like nothing else!) Also, my sweet husband (who sees and can attest to the improvements more than anyone) bought me a full-spectrum “happy lamp” that helps too. I turn it on for 15-30 minutes in the morning and it feels so good – like walking into summer. =)