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How Does a Catholic Deal With Depression?

Updated on October 28, 2017
Ice cold princess profile image

After converting to the Catholic faith in 2016, I made it my mission to educate newcomers to my faith.

Help God To Help You!

The most vital thing to do is to take your medication as prescribed, even if you feel better now and don't think that you need it anymore.

Sometimes, medication works by suppressing the symptoms that you experience and if you come off them, then you might relapse into the issues that you had before. It's also worth noting that you should never wean off any medications without the support of a doctor.

Don't be afraid to go to hospital if you need to, either. Though it might be scary to be in hospital while you are sick, the Lord is with you - so you need not fear any evil.

If you need to eat with your medication, but are of the age where you are required to partake in fasting, speak to your pastor to see if you can come up with an alternative penance that you can do instead of denying yourself food - you will also find that you are exempt from the hour's fast before you can receive Holy Communion... though that's probably a moot point considering that your hour without food will be up by the time that it comes to receiving Holy Communion anyway.

6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

— 1 Peter 5:6-7
Depression can strike at any moment
Depression can strike at any moment | Source

Turn To God

We all need God... we need Him even more when we are sick!

Keeping your spiritual practices as close to normal as you can helps to combat depressive episodes by keeping your routine as close to normal as it would be. The benefits of that are twofold in that it prevents you from isolating yourself at a time when you feel least like going out and it makes you less likely to act on any self harm or suicide ideation that you may be experiencing as a result of your mental condition.

The routine of itself is also familiar to you and the familiarity can be the first crutches you have as you try to find your feet again.

If you find yourself unable to find the words to kneel or sit in focused prayer and still want to pray, that's okay, you could just say the Rosary or sit quietly with the Lord instead. Remember, He knows what is in your heart.

Depression And Confession

Before you go rushing into confession during a depressed episode, it's worth stopping to ask yourself "How depressed am I?". Don't be afraid to hold off on confession if you need to.

Why do I suggest that a Catholic hold off on confessing their sins? The reason all boils down to culpability. You see, we all sin... but when we are under the effects of mental illness, we might sin more than usual, yet we are less aware of our sins because our minds are in an altered state at the time. It's possible that you might have to wait for the episode to pass and a few days extra before you are able to recollect some memories of what happened while you were in an altered state of mind.

Speaking on a personal level, it can take me a couple of days after an episode to reach the point where I start to fully recover the memories of what I did during the episode and process them in my mind.

It's also possible that attending confession while you are already in a depressed episode could make you feel even worse about yourself than you already do.

If you find the idea of not attending confession difficult to bear, it is worth remembering that we are regularly absolved from our sins during Mass when we recite the Penitential Act and the priest says the absolution anyway.

12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

— 1 Peter 4:12-13

Enjoy God's creation

Try to get out into the world each day - even if you would much rather stay at home and in bed.

A walk can be beneficial because it gets you out of the house, stops you thinking about the depressive thoughts for a while and releases endorphins (feel-good hormones) into your bloodstream.

If you need some motivation to do even that, set yourself a challenge to take 5 pictures of something (flowers, trees, cars, etc.) on your phone and do it. You don't have to share the pictures that you took with others if you don't want to... but at least you got out of the house and took them.

Use a Holy Font

One thing that's always seemed to help me is to cross myself with Holy Water. I've never really understood why this is, but I tend to feel calmer after I have done this... so it's worth seeing if this reminder might help you, too.

If you find it to be beneficial to you, you can always obtain a home font (a font is an item that can receive a sacramental - so don't be afraid to get it blessed if you would like to) and a bottle of water to church to be blessed by your pastor. Once you have done this, you can use your font whenever you feel that you need a little reminder of the fact that you aren't alone.

How I Feel Closer To Mother Mary...

The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and He shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them

— Deuteronomy 33:27

Use your favorite hymns for support

Another thing that I have done is to collect a list of hymns on Youtube. A lot of these are hymns that I have sung in Mass at one time or another and they have resonated with me on a deep level. I will sit and listen to them each morning because I can't think of a better way to start my day.

You could also put your favorite hymns on your phone or iPod to take with you wherever you go and listen to them when you need a quick boost during the day.

Feel free to have a chuckle at this:-

Lean On Your Brothers And Sisters In God

One thing that I've noticed since I've joined the Church is that people notice more than you think. If you suddenly start to get an influx of people asking how you are, you can be sure that they've seen you struggling under the weight of your load and they want to help you, even if all they can do to help you is to lend an ear, a shoulder to cry on or add you to their prayers.

It can be great to know that there is someone out there who cares, even if it feels like you might be depressed forever right now. You never know, there might come a day when they need help and you get the chance to help them to carry their load in return.

Contact Your Priest If...

...Quiet time spent praying in church helps you.

While many churches are locked when no one is inside these days, your Priest may be able to grant you access for a while if it would really be of benefit to you.

You might choose to use this time to talk to the priest for guidance, or you can request to be left alone to pray by yourself if you find that to be more effective for you.

Please note:- Though you may be alone in the sanctuary, you won't be alone in the building for security reasons.


Go And Receive Holy Communion!

Receiving Holy Communion can be a difficult step when we truly don't feel worthy of God's love - but this is the time when we need it the most... so, even if you don't feel up to it, get up and join the procession to receive communion.

Speaking on a personal level, I've been to Mass weighed down with the weight of the world on my shoulders, and receiving Holy Communion calmed my mind and enabled me to see that God knows and He is in control of whatever struggles I was facing at the time.

No matter how depressed you might be feeling, you are still worthy of God and His love for you.

© 2017 Ice cold princess


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