7 things you can do to support someone in church who is depressed

7 things you can do to support someone in church who is depressed

What is depression?

Most people when they think of the word depression think of someone feeling sad. In fact, depression is much more than this.

The clinical diagnosis of depression includes, low mood, reduced energy, and a decrease in activity.

The capacity for enjoyment and interest in the things you usually love is reduced.

Concentration and memory are affected.

Self-esteem and self-confidence are almost always reduced, and ideas of guilt or worthlessness are often present.

Sleep is usually disturbed, typically with waking in the morning several hours before the usual time, but there may be problems getting to sleep or sleeping too much in some cases.

Appetite is usually lower and weight loss can occur, although some people with depression may comfort eat and put on weight.

Loss of libido, slowing of movements and speech or feeling restless and agitated, are other symptoms that can occur.

So if you think someone is depressed or they tell you they have been diagnosed with it what can you do to help?

    1 - Give them hope. Fortunately as Christians this one comes easy as we all have a hope that one day all things will be made new and earthly pain will be gone. But we can also have hope that things will improve in this life. Depression can and will get better. We must always give hope that these feelings will pass however painful they might be right now. People who experience depression frequently have feelings of overwhelming guilt, reassure them that God loves them just as much on their worse day as He does on their best day and that He has forgiven ALL of their sins; past, present and future.

    2   -Give them timeDepression can last for months or even years, there is no quick fix. Be there for them consistently. Sometimes it may feel frustrating that they don’t seam to be getting any better or helping themselves. Sometimes they may get better then relapse for a while. Whatever the course of their illness, having supportive relationships is beneficial and will help them in their recovery.

    3-Encourage them to get professional help. Medication, therapy, and counselling are all good things that can boost recovery. Doctors won’t always prescribe medication and most recommend talking therapies as a first line treatment. If they would feel more comfortable with a Christian counsellor then have a look at the following websites for contact details.



    Antidepressant medication can be helpful particularly if the depression is severe and affecting the person’s day to day life. Despite what some people may think, antidepressants are not addictive and don’t make you falsely happy. They work gradually and may take several weeks to work. It may take even longer if the dose has to be increased or a different one needs to be prescribed due to side effect or lack of efficacy. It is important to encourage the person you are supporting to not give up but keep going back to the doctor if the treatment is not working.

    4-Support them practically. Generally speaking, when you are depressed, everything is a struggle. From getting up and getting dressed to shopping and cleaning and going to work, so any support you can give around these practical things will be a help.

    Making decisions when you are depressed is really hard though, so you could make a list of all the things that you could help with and ask which of these they would like you to do, rather than getting them to have to think about what they need. This way of doing things also helps as when you are depressed you may think that people don’t really want to help you and are just saying it to be nice. Give them the option to text you as conversation may be overwhelming and realise that it may take a few days for them to get back to you as brains often work slower when you have depression.

    5-Support them with church. It can be difficult for someone to cope with going to church when they are having a bad time with depression, they might struggle to concentrate on the sermon, be unable to socialise with people afterwards, and find the whole thing too noisy and too busy, they might feel overwhelmed with emotion and worry that they will let it all out if something sets them off. Just getting there on time maybe tricky.

    You could ask if there is anything you can do to help with all of this, again presenting a list of ideas rather than expecting them to be able to think of what they need might help. Some ideas could be,

    - A lift to church (understanding that it might make you late),

    - a quiet place to go to in church away from all of the people with just one or two close friends to chat to rather than being with everyone at coffee time,

    - someone to pray for them as finding words may be tricky,

    - having other one-to-one meetings rather than attending the big Sunday service,

    - recordings of the sermons to listen to, as concentration may be poor,

    - being invited to social events with the understanding they might not come or will have to leave early,

    - small responsibilities can help rather than feeling completely useless (again with the understanding they may have to drop out).

    6-Supporting their family. Being the main source of support for someone with depression can be exhausting and lonely, so supporting the family of those with depression will be vital. Again ask how you can help and give ideas of things you would be willing to do. They may appreciate being able to go out and socialise with people who they can have fun with

    7-Help by finding resources and support group  for people who are depressed or their main carers as knowing you are not alone in going through this is encouraging, and you can see that people get better.

      If you have any more ideas for supporting people with depression in church head over to our Facebook page and leave us a comment.