Depression. It’s a word many are either afraid or ashamed to utter. According to the CDC, 50% of Americans will battle with mental illness at some point in their lifetime.
Research shows men are far less likely than women to seek help not only for all mental-health problems but depression in particular. Men are not likely to admit they have depression.
According to a 2014 Lifeway study, 66% of pastors mostly avoid the topic from the pulpit, choosing to preach about mental health either once, rarely, or never each year.
Unfortunately, most churches have not provided mental health support to their congregation.
Depression is difficult to overcome alone and come to terms with. As a Christian man, I continue to struggle with depression for about two decades. Admitting to myself I have depression was the first step towards healing. Here are some truths we should learn as a depressed Christian.
You are not alone
Being depressed sucks. It can feel as if you are in a bottomless pit with no way out. It is dark and lonely. The truth is you are not alone. What has helped me come to terms with my depression was learning Jesus experienced my pain and suffering while upon the cross. In the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah said this about Jesus.
“He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.” (53:3).
And guess what? Jesus knows how it felt to feel abandoned and forsaken (Matthew 27:46).
The hole you are in is temporary. The feeling of loneliness is nothing but a lie. God is and will always be there despite the feeling of loneliness.
Men are terrible at sharing
Let’s be honest, men. We are terrible at expressing our feelings. Culture has taught us that ‘real men’ bottle up their feelings and is emotionless vessels. The truth is we do have feelings. We are just terrible with sharing. Sharing our feelings shouldn’t make us feel less masculine. It’s the opposite.
From Job to David, some of the strongest men in the Bible expressed their emotions to God. They felt sorrow, abandonment, and even depression.
Even Jesus wept in public over the death of a friend (John 11:35).
We men should take a cue from these men. We need to unbottle our feelings and cast them upon the Lord. There are many times I’ve discussed my feelings with God. I may not have heard His voice, but I felt His presence in those moments. God has helped anchor me in many dark moments.
Depressed men need others
Another truth is depressed men need other men to bear the weight of their burdens. If we are honest with ourselves, we are not very good at taking the weight of other men’s feelings. We tend to be surface level when it comes to our friendships. We prefer talking about sports, politics, and other non-personal topics when we are around other men and shy from those icky feelings.
When another man is depressed, don’t try to fix them. Instead, get down into the hole they are in and listen. Don’t offer advice. Sit with them and listen—a man feeling depressed needs someone willing to listen. If you’re a depressed, find other men who will listen to you. If you’re a Christian man who knows of another man who is depressed, get down in their hole and help bear the weight they feel.
When I was going through a brief separation with my wife a few years back, my group of men at church helped me overcome the depression I found myself in. They were there for me when I needed them, and I’m eternally grateful for their friendship.
If you are feeling depressed, know that you are not alone. Lean into other Christian men who can bear the weight with you. Depression is not a sin. It is an actual mental health illness. Don’t bottle up your feelings. Seek help. And don’t feel ashamed to admit you are feeling depressed.
But know this. You have value. You are precious. God loves you so much he sacrificed His only Son for you (John 3:16). Yes, you. This is how much God loves you. God finds you precious in your brokenness.
If you’re depressed, tell someone. Talk to a doctor, family, friend, or counselor. Please do not go through this alone.
Christian, Husband, Political junkie, Braves fan, Marvel Nerd, craft beer aficionado, and a sinner saved by grace. He has a passion for helping Christian men grow in their faith. He is the founder and editor of Joshua’s Outpost.