We had a highly informative pastoral care evening on depression at St Paul’s earlier this year. Baron Collocott spoke of his long and difficult journey through depression, and the remarkable breakthroughs and lessons he experienced along the way. Shirley Collocott, his wife, spoke of her experience of accompanying Baron throughout this time. And Dr. Patte Randal taught from her outstanding, research-proven and highly accessible re-covery model related to people experiencing psychosis and other extreme states. Sadly, not only is depression common to many of us, often we attempt to hide it and struggle on alone at the very time when we most need the support of others.

Statistics show that one in six Kiwis will experience major depression at some point in their lives and one in seven under-24-year-olds will experience a depressive episode. Could you be one of the vast numbers of individuals within our own congregation struggling with depression today? You are not alone.

symptoms of depression

While it is normal to feel sad or miserable at times, it is important to be aware of some of the common symptoms of depression. They include no longer enjoying things that used to give pleasure; feeling sad, blue and empty most of the time; feeling worthless; being prone to self-blame; sleeping a lot less/more than usual; experiencing unexpected changes in weight or appetite; lacking energy; having difficulty concentrating; or experiencing a sense of hopelessness. If you think you may be depressed or someone you know is struggling with depression, there is a lot of help available. Please consider the following options:

Email pastoralcare@stpauls.org.nz or prayer@stpauls.org.nz for help.
Seek out some Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) counselling, which can frequently be accessed via talking with a GP (and is often government funded).
Visit www.depression.org.nz or call the depression helpline 0800 111 757.
Consult professionals (e.g. Community Mental Health 0800 800 717).
Read Matthew Johnstone’s wonderful booklet, I Had a Black Dog.
Adopt a holistic approach to recovery including moving from vicious cycles that fuel depression (e.g. an unhelpful thought can create an unhelpful feeling that in turn provokes us to choose/act inappropriately) to victorious cycles that help liberate from depression (e.g. dwell on positive thoughts that create helpful feelings and good choices).
Connect into community.
Published in SPREAD magazine . issue three