Nearly 300 million people worldwide are suffering with depression today. That’s almost as many people as the total population of the United States. MD magazine reported last month that since Covid-19 started the number of American adults showing symptoms of depression has jumped from 11% to 33%! Depression is real and it’s a powerful enemy for anyone who desires a quality way of life. Fortunately, God can help us. Today, in this blog, counselors from the Hyde Park Counseling Center offer suggestions to help those struggling with depression so they can find hope! In addition, I’ve included my message on “How God Ministers When We Feel Depressed”, preached at Hyde Park Baptist Church on Sunday February 7, 2021. 
Dealing with Depression
By Jenn Edwards, M.A.
Discussing depression and its presenting symptoms has become a widely considered topic in recent months. This is due in part to an increase in the likelihood that you or someone you know is currently struggling with depression in light of the current global atmosphere during the pandemic and political unrest. According to a screening assessment conducted by Mental Health America, rates of depression in 2020 increased by 62% in comparison to depression rates in 2019 [4]. While minorities and youth seem to be among the most affected, depression knows no boundaries in regard to age or demographics [4]. One of the most concerning aspects from a mental health perspective is the stigmatization of depression as a moral weakness and the presumed etiology as a lack of faith. Alternatively, research suggests “there are many possible causes of depression, including faulty mood regulation by the brain, genetic vulnerability, stressful life events, medications, and medical problems” [2]. Depression can be defined as a “mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest…it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems” [3]. When we consider the reasons one might experience depression, the notion of an underlying traumatic event as the source of an onset symptoms, often comes up as a probable cause. To conceptualize a traumatic event, it is important that we understand that trauma can be loosely thought of as any novel event or circumstance thateffects are outside of our current coping capabilities. It is fair to say that COVID-19 catapulted us into a season where we are collectively navigating trauma. For people who have a predisposition to experience depression for the reasons listed above, it is understandable that we would see an increase in symptoms. 
​As you can imagine the suffering that coincides with depression is difficult, but there is always hope because it is held by Christ and tethered to a good and faithful God. There is no shortage of biblical examples where God shows us that this suffering befalls even the most faithful among us. David cries out to God exclaiming, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?” And before David skips a beat he answers the question for himself with a directive and direction, “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 43:5). This would be a sufficient example of what we can view as asituational depressive episode. The good news is that depressive symptoms tend to be transient, with studies showing that around 50% of episodes are resolved on their own without treatment in approximately 6 weeks [6]. As with most mental health issues, the severity of symptoms will ebb and flow, and tend to occur in tandem to life’s more stressful seasons. One might ask, but what about the times when your persistent low mood is not manageable and does not improve when life’s circumstances seem to let up? These are good questions and from a clinical standpoint it would be important to assess whether the frequency, duration and severity of your symptoms are affecting your job, your family life, school and/or relationships. If the answer is yes, it’s time to seek professional therapy. Here are some symptomatic red flags to be watching for in the form of a helpful mnemonic device (M SIG E CAPS):

M​mood depressed
​S​sleep disturbance (insomnia or hypersomnia)
​I​interest loss (nothing brings pleasure)
​G​guilt (feelings of worthlessness)
​E​energy depleted (fatigue)
​C​concentration problems (indecisive)
​A​appetite disturbance (weight gain or loss)
​P​psychomotor change
​S​suicide preoccupation (thoughts of death) [1]
It is important to highlight the last symptom, which are suicidal thoughts. If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts this should always be taken seriously and help should be sought immediately. 
​As the church we have an opportunity to co-labor with Christ in our ability to help those who are suffering from mental health issues. This starts with the way we talk aboutit in our church meetings, bible studies and Sunday school classes. God can use us to create an atmosphere laden with empathy and genuine love and concern. The over-spiritualization of mental health issues is detrimental to the healing of those suffering. An example of this is telling someone with clinical anxiety that they just need to trust God more, or an individual who has depression being toldthat they are just discontent and have lost their joy. Another way we can, as the church, partner with those affected by mental illness is to “reinforce the grace of belonging (in Christ) to inspire change vs. spiritual fighting that creates more exhaustion” [5]. The enemy undoubtedly has a hand in the perpetuation of distorted thinking, however subtly relating depression to a lost fight with the enemy takes away from the victorious work that is done and finished on the cross. As we move through this year and the years ahead it is paramount that we extend grace and love like we never have before.  Please do not hesitate to contact Hyde Park Counseling Center if you or a loved one may be facing depression.  You are not alone and we are here to help you. 
[1] Gross, Carey, MD. Creator of M SIG E CAPS mneumonic device
[2] Harvard Medical School. (2019, June 24th). Harvard Health Publishing.
[3] Mayo Clinic (2018, February 3rd). Retrieved from:
[4] Mental Health America (2021). Retrieved from:
[5] Padilla, Joe. What the Bible Says about Depression & Anxiety. The Grace alliance. Retrieved from:
[6] Yarhouse, M., Butman, R., & McRay, B. (2005).Modern psychopathologies: A comprehensive Christian appraisal. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsityPress


Here you’ll find a video of my message NEVER ALONE and a guest blog from two mental health professionals from Hyde Park Counseling Center


By Lindy Peterson, LPC and Dr. Nicole Fitzpatrick, Licensed Psychologist, LSSP

Loneliness poses a significant threat to our mental health in the world today even more so since the pandemic began. It cuts across generations and is reaching around the world. Millions of people today are living with sparse human contact and research tells us that lonely people are more likely to become ill, experience cognitive decline, and are losing hope more than ever before.  According to recent research, two-thirds of adults today indicated they are experiencing social isolation, and 66% say their anxiety levels have increased during the pandemic.  Social distancing measures are intensifying existing feelings of loneliness, and appear to be more pronounced in older adults, particularly women.  Furthermore, more than half of adults, 50years or older, have reported marked feelings of social isolation during the pandemic.  Interestingly, only 11% of survey respondents turned to mental health professionals when feeling sad or down, and almost one third of people age 50 and over said they didn’t turn to anyone for support.  

Two studies reported that millennials are also experiencing the highest levels of loneliness and suicidal thoughts throughout the pandemic. 80% of students surveyed for the Active Minds Survey reported experiencing loneliness and isolation; putting it among the top 3 most common problems they dealt with (alongside stress/anxiety and discouragement/sadness).  Loneliness was considered to be an epidemic for millennialsprior to the pandemic, but the isolation is only serving to exacerbate its effects.

As believers, we have the greatest tools to deal with loneliness, a life giving personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  In a recent article from Focus on the Family, loneliness was referred to as an opportunity, even referred to as a gift.  How can loneliness be considered a gift when often we want to avoid or run from it?  In Philippians 4:8, Paul says, “whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—dwell on these things.”  While it is challenging for sure, loneliness can be something we can learn to praise God through and in the midst of, if we find hope in the fact that we are not alone, God is with us and will sustain us and we fix our minds on Jesus to help us get through periods ofloneliness.

If we can ask God to help us see loneliness as an opportunity, loneliness can open our hearts to others and soften our hearts to love others more.  Countless times in the past months, we’ve heard quotes from others about how people now appreciate things that they were taking for granted. For example, the freedom to attend church and worship with fellow believershas become so much more precious in the hearts of many who had become complacent about attending every Sunday.Receiving a note in the mail or kind text from a friend means so much to let us know someone is thinking about us and cared enough to take the time to write their thoughts down.

Loneliness can open us to seeking God in a deeper way.   When we’re lonely, if we hold on to God and His Word, we don’t have to fall into despair.  We can find His comfort, love,and healing by hearing His voice.  We need time with God, and in ordinary times, we often fill our time and calendar up with “busyness,” trying to surround ourselves with people and activities thinking that will prevent loneliness and find ourselves leaving God out of the equation.  However, these are often just distractions; the truth is that most people feel lonely even when surrounded by others and activity filled schedules.  Why you may ask? While the activities allow us to be around other people, many reported not feeling connected to others due to the void of emotional sharing.  Thus, people stay distracted and busy often to avoid even sharing about their own feelings for fear of being rejected or not included.  Proverbs 18:24 says, “but there is a friend who stays closer than a brother.”  God is our constant and never leaves us.  There is no loneliness in Hispresence if we call on Him.   Once we recognize we are accepted by God, it can open the door for us to be vulnerable with others and share about our loneliness or whatever other feelings we may be having, from a faith place of acceptance that overshadows our fear of rejection.  Matthew 11:28; Isaiah 43:2; 1 Cor. 2:5-9

Loneliness can help strengthen our character in Christ.  We can be assured God cares for us.  He knows loneliness.  Jesus experienced the greatest loneliness when after all of his disciples deserted him, while receiving the wrath of God in our place on the cross, was even forsaken by His Father.  We become more aware of our weaknesses and deficiencies and need for Godwhen we are lonely, because we are not distracted. As Paul said in 2 Cor. 12, “For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

If you’re experiencing loneliness, know that you are not alone!  It is clear that at many times throughout this pandemic we have felt alone, but take heart God is there and there are people out there that care. Here are some practical suggestions to win the battle over loneliness:• Pray day-by-day and read God’s Word to enjoy fellowship with God.  • Call a close friend and schedule time to have a meaningful conversation either in person, phone or Face Time.  Ask for prayer if you are in need.  Knowing someone is praying for you can be such a blessing and comfort in times of loneliness.• Reengage with believers in your church family.  With the pandemic, we have to be more creative; meeting virtually, outside or coming back to church.  Research has shown that those who gathered during the pandemic were less implicated by mental health ails during this time.  • Find a hobby or activity that you can gather some acquaintances around and find a mutually convenient time to get together online.  Learning a new skill or reconnecting with an activity you previously enjoyed is a great way to deepen relationships and challenge your brain in a new waythat will build new neural pathways and help growrelationships as well. • God has provided methods for us to continue to sharpen each other. Reach out to a friend with an encouraging word, write a Scripture on your mirror or sticky note to remind yourself of who you are in Christ and let people know when you are having a difficult time and how they can pray and encourage you (Proverbs 27:17  “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”)• Most importantly, look at yourself from God’s point of view.  Study scriptures that affirm your identity in Christ. Galatians 2:20, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 2:6• Specific Scriptures addressing loneliness:  Psalms 145:18-19; Deuteronomy 31:6; Matthew 11:28-30; Isaiah 41:10; Isaiah 43:2; I Peter 5:7; Philippians 4:6-7

Loneliness is a challenge that is affecting everyone in some wayat this time. If you or a loved one has experienced loneliness and need to talk to someone, or if you have more questions about how loneliness is impacting you, please do not hesitate to contact us at the Hyde Park Counseling Center.

References                                                            “The Gift of Loneliness” healthy-amidst-covid-19-pandemic?            2020 International Mental Health Research Virtual Symposium; “How to Stay Mentally Healthy Amidst the Covid-19  Pandemic” “Adults Under 24: The Loneliest Age Group During Covid-19 Restrictions”

https:/         “Pandemic Has Created Loneliness Epidemic”

https:/                               “Loneliness During Coronavirus”                                                  “The Loneliness Pandemic”                                                                    “7 Bible Verses to Encourage You When You Feel Alone”                                                                               “Loneliness”

We’re praying for you!