I was at the point of taking my own life. I have suffered nights of insomnia, crying without anyone seeing. [I am a young man.] It’s been almost two years that I’ve been depressed. My self‑esteem is as low as it can get. I have a hard time even smiling. I have lost my job and my studies.

My body hurts. Every day it feels like something bad is going to happen. No one can do anything for me now, and I don’t know where I can get the strength to get through this. I feel very weak.

How can I get better, when every little setback makes me feel badly again and it all starts over? I need to be happy, to smile like I used to, to give meaning to my life. Please help me!

Dear friend,

We are so sorry to hear of your debilitating condition! No one can understand what you are going through, but there are hundreds of thousands of people who have been through very similar illnesses and have lived to smile again. We know that you can too.

Depression is a confusing thing. Almost every adult has been through “low times” of sadness, apathy, fatigue, and hopelessness. But this kind of depression depends on circumstances, so when the circumstances change (or the person adapts to the circumstances), the depression goes away.

However, this is not the kind of depression that you have. Your depression does not depend on your circumstances. Your depression may have been initiated by an unfavorable situation, but then the neurotransmitters in your brain (brain chemicals) took over and are now the direct cause of your continuing illness. The symptoms that you are experiencing are caused by these brain chemicals and not by your thinking process nor some serious disease in your body. This is why you cannot just “snap out of it” or think your way back to health.

You do not tell us if you have seen a doctor, or if you have tried to get medications to regulate the chemicals in your brain. People in your situation often fail to seek help from a doctor because they misunderstand the nature of clinical or long‑term depression. They believe that just changing their attitude or thinking can cure the illness. Or they think that they will become dependent on prescription drugs.

Frequently, when depressed people do try medications, they don’t understand that the chemicals in the prescription drugs must have time to build up in the body before they can work. This usually takes a month or longer, and they think they shouldn’t have to wait that long. Also, it often happens that the first prescription that a person tries is not the best, but the doctor doesn’t know that is the case until after the month has passed. Depressed people frequently don’t have the patience to start taking another medication and wait another month to see if it will relieve the condition.

Clinically depressed people often withdraw from their friends and family. They frequently don’t even feel that they can pray anymore. They feel abandoned by God, as well as by others. But God still loves you very much. The Bible says that He wants to be a comfort and a shelter for you during the process of recovery, to give you strength and be an ever‑present help in time of need.(1) This can assure you that He is right there beside you during those long nights when you cannot sleep or stop crying.

Please see a doctor as soon as possible, and stick with the prescription medication. And during the process of waiting for it to take effect, make God your constant companion and source of strength. He will not let you down.

Write back and tell us when you are better. We care for you too.

Linda and Charles
1 Psa 46:1