10 ways Christian women can manage anxiety & depression - You don't have to deal with mental health concerns by yourself. Just because it says "Do not fear" in the Bible 365 times, it does not mean that you can't get help. Even Christians who believe in God can take these steps to manage and get help for mental illness.
Anxiety and depression are more common now, in the wake of COVID, than at any time I can remember. They are ubiquitous; people talk about them in social media and in polite conversation. They're no longer as stigmatized as they were when I was first diagnosed with them in early 2001. Back then, the only people I told where my doctor and my immediate family.
When I finally told Old Grandma about my depression diagnosis, she told me that I needed to get over it. That hurt especially coming from the person who had always been my safe space, my soft place to fall. She just didn't understand, and neither did most people.
I was eventually diagnosed as bipolar (in 2011), but most people are not. For the vast majority, depression and anxiety are as far as it goes.
Bipolar disorder is not well understood by the medical community or by the public at large. Not a lot of people have it, and there is a stigma about it (that I too fell into before my diagnosis) that bipolar people are crazy and unpredictable.
I felt crazy when I was hospitalized, but I have never, ever been unpredictable. My actions have always followed a clear pattern.
I'm writing about this for several reasons. First of all, if you suspect you may have depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder, please seek professional help. Second, if you or someone you know has one of these conditions, treat that person gently. Be kind and listen to her. Third and most important, look at people with mental health disorders as normal people because that's what they are. They are people, just like you. Their brains are just wired a little differently. That's all.
So what if you have been feeling anxious or depressed or even suspecting that you might have something more serious? What should you do? Please read on.
10 Things a Christian Woman Can Do to Manage Anxiety & Depression
- Get professional help. A lot of people in the Christian community balk at mental health treatment, and I think this is counter productive and unfair. They wouldn't expect a diabetic to ask God for healing and leave it at that, but they expect people with mental health issues to do just that. It makes no sense whatsoever.
Mental health concerns are medical issues, plain and simple. If you suspect that you or someone you know has one of these challenges, please seek professional help. If you don't know who else to go to, see your family doctor. He or she will be able to get you to the resources you need.
Some mental health issues will need only a prescription from your family doctor. Others may need a referral to a psychiatrist and/or psychologist or therapist. All of these are very valuable and healthy. Go see them if you have been feeling these feelings persistently for more than a week or two.
- Eat well. Now that I'm off my medical help soapbox, what else can you do? The first step is to eat a healthy diet. I know when you're feeling bad, you want all the sugary and salty foods you can stuff into your mouth, but all that stuff is horrible for you and will only make you feel worse: sluggish, tired, sad, and worn out. Healthy foods including lots of protein, fruits, and vegetables will give you more energy and make it easier to get things done. They will also prevent you from crashing in the mid morning and mid afternoon, allowing you to meet your day with gusto. Or, if not gusto, at least with confidence that you can manage to get through the day.
- Exercise daily. Study after study have shown exercise to be as effective as anti depressants in mild to moderately depressed patients, and also that it can play a significant role in the treatment of moderate to severe depression. Don't take my word for it, either. Here's an article from the famed Mayo Clinic that backs me up and gives tips on how to motivate yourself to get moving.
Now, if you are very out of shape and not used to exercising, please don't try to start with an hour a day of weight training. Take it slow and easy. Go for a walk around your block or, if you can't manage that, walk just for ten minutes. If you do that every day, eventually you'll be able to walk for 15 minutes and then 20 minutes and so on. I walk for an hour almost every day, and I listen to audiobooks and I really love my quiet time alone. I feel worlds better on days when I walk, and you will too. Get started today.
- Read more, especially the Bible but also other Christian resources. You may not feel like reading, but do it anyway. The Psalms are incredibly uplifting and the book is very long, so that's a great place to start. But don't discount Christian fiction as well. I just finished a book called The Summer House that you might like. It was about a woman whose husband left her in the very beginning, and she moved into a cottage in a retirement community and worked as a hair dresser to the senior citizens. It was a very feel good book with a great ending. Most Christian fiction is like that, and you can rest assured that it doesn't have bad language or smut. It's great for distracting yourself from your current situation and whatever is bothering you. Give it a try. Anything published by Thomas Nelson is a good bet, but there are other Christian publishers as well.
If fiction isn't your thing, there are lots and lots of good Christian non-fiction books that could help you. Bob Goff, Beth Moore, and Jen Hatmaker are phenomenal Christian authors. I also like Ann Voskamp, although she has a style that is very unique and very wordy and not everyone's cup of tea. I'm not personally a huge fan of Glennon Doyle, but a lot of Christian women love her, too.
- Memorize scripture. Scripture memory is so good for your heart. Having verses in your brain that you can recall when you're feeling low is like gold. Those words are calming and peaceful when even the worst storm is raging in your mind and heart.
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. – 2 Timothy 3:16
Be still and know that I am God. – Psalm 46:10
There are so many scriptures that can help you in this hard place you're in. As I said above, the Psalms are really good, but there are hundreds (thousands!) of other verses elsewhere in the Bible that are encouraging and uplifting and helpful to know by heart. I don't know where all of my favorite verses are in the Bible (I often Google what I remember of the verse to find it in my actual book), but I know the words of the text, and those words bring me comfort. Check out 17 encouraging Bible verses to start your day and 50 Bible verses that every Christian should know for some pretty printables to help you to memorize scripture.
- Pray. Prayer changes things. It changes you. It changes how you see the world. It changes how you relate to your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Prayer is powerful, and it has powerful effects. If you don't know what to pray, start with the Bible verses above and just change them slightly, like this:
God, I want to be still before you. I want my heart to be calm and peaceful, knowing that You will take care of me. Help my heart to be still and to know that You alone are God and You alone have a plan for the world and for me.
That's all it takes to get started. You can say it out loud or just say it in your head. You can be kneeling on the floor or sitting in a chair or standing at the sink or laying in your bed. You can have your eyes open or closed. God doesn't care what's going on with your body as long as your heart and mind are focused on Him.
- Avoid the news. One of my kids has had severe anxiety since we were in a car crash when she was two years old. It has plagued us all these years. She's seen multiple therapists over the years and has a psychiatrist since she was six. The first change that doctor made when she started seeing us was to shut off our nightly news habit. "You are filling her brain with all the things that are wrong with the world," she told us in her heavy middle Eastern accent. "You can't have her soaking that in and expect her not to be afraid." So that was it. We had been watching the nightly news every night, faithfully for decades, but we turned it off and have never looked back.
And do you know what happened? My anxiety decreased too. There is nothing on the news that you really need to know, maybe save the weather report, and you can get that on an app on your phone. Just turn it off. If it's something really important, you'll hear about it from another source.
- Repeat positive affirmations. I'm a huge believer in positive affirmations. They are short, pithy statements that you can read to yourself several times a day, and they help you to believe certain things about yourself and your future. Positive affirmations have been studied and shown to help with both anxiety and depression. They are widely known in mental health circles, but the Christian community has been slow to embrace them. Check out 40 positive affirmations for Christian moms and 40 positive affirmations for Christians with anxiety for examples.
- Spend time with uplifting family & friends. If you're staying off social media, then friends and family are all the more important. God created us for connection, for relationships, both with Him and with other people, and you need those connections to be healthy and happy. So call or text them or, even better, spend time together in person. Work on building those relationships for them and for yourself.
- Ask your husband for support. When you're struggling, you need the most important person in your life to love and support you even more than normal. Your husband can pick up extra chores to give you some time to walk, or he can listen when you need to talk about what's bothering you. He can take the kids out for an errand so that you have uninterrupted time to talk on the phone with a girlfriend or play with them so that you have a moment to just sit and enjoy a cup of tea. Husbands can be super helpful, and most of the time, they want to be helpful, so tell him what you need and let him take some weight off your shoulders.
Often when I post a list like this, I close with which of the list is most important or which can be most easily accomplished. As I sit here and reflect on the list above, I don't think there is a single most important thing on the list, outside of professional medial help, and that is perhaps the most difficult of all. Prayer is super important, but so is exercise. Avoiding the news is crucial, but so is getting support from your husband. There is no easy answer for anxiety and depression in your life.
If you are suffering from anxiety and/or depression, please please please reach out to someone and share your heart. If it hasn't been plaguing you for more than a couple of weeks, maybe you can attack items two through ten on the list above, and that will be enough. If it has been lingering for longer, you need to make an appointment with your doctor and a good Christian therapist. Mental health is covered by all major medical insurance plans in the US.
I hope this post gives you hope that you can get out of whatever pit you're in. There is hope in Jesus, and there is hope in the world. You can get better.
Here are a few more posts you might be interested in:
- 23 Bible Verses on Loneliness
- 18 Bible Verses to Overcome Overthinking
- 10 Bible Verses for When Things are Hopeless
- 10 Bible Verses to Overcome Anxiety & Worry
- 30 Bible Verses About Strength