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How To Help A Depressed Friend

Chances are, you know someone who is struggling with depression. A college student asks for Bible advice to help his childhood friend deal with depression.


How To Help A Depressed Friend


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Brother Donald Pinnock: Today, I’m talking to PJ Bradley. A young musician here in Toronto. Growing up he’s been a source of support and strength for his best friend, who has been struggling with depression for many years.

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322 million people worldwide live with depression

Brother Donald: Did you know that 322 million people living on this planet is living with depression? Mental Health is a growing concern for people of all ages, living in all corners of the world.

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Major Depressive Disorder is the leading cause of disability in [the] U.S. for ages 15-44

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In any given year, 1 in 5 people in Canada will personally experience a Mental Health problem or illness.

Brother Donald: PJ is here to talk about that unique challenge. So join us in our conversation. And let’s look for the solution together.

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Brother Donald: So Bro. PJ, welcome to the program.

PJ Bradley: Thank you for having me, Bro. Donald.

Brother Donald: You’re most welcome. Why don’t you start off by telling us a little bit about yourself.

PJ: So I am a first year student at the University of Toronto. I currently study music; especially in music—Classical music, and the performance aspect of it.

Brother Donald: Sounds interesting. I’d like to hear you play sometime. Let me know the next time you have a concert.

PJ: I sure will. 

Brother Donald: It’s very evident that music is your passion. It’s your passion. So what brings you here to the program here today. You were mentioning something vaguely to me recently. So, what are you dealing with?

PJ: Well, today I’d really like to talk about; in particular, I know, sad to say it’s one of my friends and a couple of others that I know  as well—are going through a state of depression. Oftentimes I’m seeing this friend in particular, can be very sad, doesn’t want to get up during the day.

Brother Donald: Your friend being in a state of depression—has this also affected you?

PJ: It surely has—because sometimes I don’t feel as strong knowing what other people are going through. And it may be that somebody may not want to, even to live. When we think of sickness, generally, depression isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Seeing it and witnessing it from the outside, I can certainly attest that depression is real. And it affects so many people in our time now.

Brother Donald: That’s a very good point. Even the Bible teaches something about that. When it comes to those that, for all we know, they seem to be happy, they seem to be on with life. But deep within, they’re going through problems. Let’s read Proverbs 14, and the verse is 13:

Someone who is laughing may be sad inside [Even in laughter the heart may feel pain], and joy may end in sadness

[Proverbs 14:13 Expanded Bible]

Brother Donald: Brother PJ, have you noticed this about your friend, that there are times that he may try to act as though everything is okay; but you being so close to him, you know that he’s going through some inner turmoil?

PJ: Yes Brother, that is indeed the case. I think it’s amongst friends in particular that no one wants to bring anyone else down. Especially, I would think that, just because my friend, in particular, might be dealing with different episodes of depression. And unfortunately, harmful thoughts and other things along that line. They don’t want to, as well, bring others into that world. That’s why—sometimes, I feel that he tends to give me some space during these times.

Brother Donald: PJ, you mentioned earlier that there was a night when your friend really didn’t sound too, too well. And you were very, very worried at that time. But how did you feel?

PJ:  Even thinking about it right now, I can feel some pain on the inside just thinking about that night because that was awful, Brother. That was really, really so, so sad to be able to see and witness. I can’t tell you how much I cried that night.

Brother Donald: Did it really feel as if…

PJ: It felt as if—I was so worried that they weren’t going to be okay. And that they were tragically going to make the decision that so many people do,  which is to committ suicide, and end up taking their own lives.

Brother Donald: I think it’s very normal that a person, at those times of their life—emotionally, they kind of feel drained. They feel as though their situation is hopeless. I’ve been through that. So I know, in ways, how it feels like. Perhaps, not as severely as your friend has been experiencing depression—

PJ: If it’s more than he can handle, then I do really wonder—what is it that I can do to help?

Brother Donald: You know PJ, there is an answer. And there is a solution, in ways, when it comes to dealing with depression. We are not just talking about medications, doctors—when it comes to psychiatrists and psychoanalysts—but of course, they can help, including with the medication. But the Bible teaches the best way of dealing with those emotional upheavals in life. So, let’s read here in Lamentations, the chapter is 3, and the verses are 19 to 25.

The thought of my pain, my homelessness, is bitter poison. I think of it constantly, and my spirit is depressed. Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing: The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, Fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. The Lord is all I have, and so in him I put my hope. The Lord is good to everyone who trusts in him.

[Lamentations 3:19-25 Today’s English Version]

Brother Donald: So, you, Brother PJ, you’re indeed a very good friend. Because one measure of a good friend is that they’re there in a time of need. And I know your friend appreciates it. But the very best friend, and the one that can truly help, is, none other than, the Almighty God. Perhaps we can impress, when it comes to our friend, that they should do what many servants of God has done. Including this servant, who makes known that he has placed his hope in God. “The Lord is all I have. And so in him, I place my trust.”

And Brother PJ, there was something else that we should also try to motivate our friend to do. Psalms 42 and the verse is 11.

Why am I so sad? Why am I so upset? I should put my hope in God and keep praising him, my Saviour and my God.

[Psalm 42:11 Today’s English Version]

Brother Donald: Servants of the Almighty God or our Father in Heaven, in the past, they came to a point even when to ask themselves, “Why am I so sad? Why am I so depressed or disappointed?—that they would place their hope and trust in God and praise Him. And we know when it comes to praising God, it’s none other than the time of worship service. So we should invite our friend. We should invite our friend to attend the worship service, so that he could make known his prayers, his situation, and his needs unto the Lord our God during the worship service. Because this is the time where our Lord our God has promised. And all the more, your friend could come, learn, and understand God is truly the One who could help him overcome those difficult periods in life. And to enjoy the life that God has granted unto him. Again, this is the reason why we should have that devotional prayer and we should talk heart-to-heart with our friend; and with the help and mercy of the Lord, our God. Especially you being a good friend to a person in time of need. And he may understand that the one that could truly help him overcome those deep valleys of emotional stress, that he may be going through; is none-other-than our Lord our God.

PJ: I want to thank you, Brother Donald. Because that was, in truth, what I really needed to hear. And that is just what everyone needs to hear. For everyone to understand that there really are benefits towards worshipping God. That, I could attest, has truly changed my life, for sure, being a member of the Church Of Christ. And hopefully, to those I know who are experiencing depression, can be able to come and witness for themselves all that the Almighty God is prepared to do for us. 

Brother Donald: Brother PJ, I’d like to thank you for being on our program. Thank you for sharing with us, not just your feelings, but about your friend and also about yourself.

PJ: I’d like to thank you so much for having me. It was very enlightening. And for sure, the advice that you gave me would be of most help to me, my friends, and everyone that I come across with.

Brother Donald: Glory be to God. And also thank you for joining us in our conversation today on The Solution. I’m Brother Donald Pinnock, and we hope to see you again soon.

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How To Help A Depressed Friend