Parenting and Depression

Depression is not a topic often talked about. However, it needs attention. Depression not only affects the family member suffering from it but everyone in the family. Parents need to be able to function even when depression affects the family. I want to discuss a method I have found effective when dealing with depression.


Please Note: the method I discuss is by no means a substitute for diagnosis and treatment of depression. Depression is a clinical, real problem, one that should be treated with the help of professionals.

In our family, we have experience with clinical depression. Two of our family members are currently being treated by professionals.

A recent experience in our home reminded me of a time when I felt down about who I was and where my life was going. Nephi, a prophet in The Book of Mormon, was also feeling depressed. His father had just passed away and his older brothers were angry with him. In the second book of Nephi chapter 4, Nephi gives us a formula for battling the feelings of depression. This formula has four parts:

  1. Recognize the depression
  2. Count your blessings
  3. Look outside yourself
  4. Inspire


1. Recognize the Depression

In verses 17 and 18 Nephi states:

17 Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.

18 I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.

Nephi is depressed about his environment, his weaknesses, and the things that so easily work against him. In our lives, there are times when any or all of these can make us feel less than adequate. It is easy to feel like nothing is going right. Recognizing the depression is the first step to feeling better.

2. Count Your Blessings

In the next seven verses Nephi remembers in whom he has placed his trust:

19 And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.

20 My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep.

21 He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh.

22 He hath confounded mine enemies, unto the causing of them to quake before me.

23 Behold, he hath heard my cry by day, and he hath given me knowledge by visions in the night-time.

24 And by day have I waxed bold in mighty prayer before him; yea, my voice have I sent up on high; and angels came down and ministered unto me.

25 And upon the wings of his Spirit hath my body been carried away upon exceedingly high mountains. And mine eyes have beheld great things, yea, even too great for man; therefore I was bidden that I should not write them.

Nephi remembers his blessings. This allows him to progress from being depressed to feeling inspired. He recognizes the following:

  1. The Lord’s hand in his life
  2. The miracles the Lord has done for him
  3. The blessings God has given him

When I feel down, taking the time to remember God’s part in my life reminds me that with Him I can succeed. I realize that I am not worthless, but have great value in God’s eyes.

3. Look Outside Yourself

The next two verses ask important questions.

26 O then, if I have seen so great things, if the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men hath visited men in so much mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions?

27 And why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh? Yea, why should I give way to temptations, that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul? Why am I angry because of mine enemy?

When we feel depressed, we are looking inward. What we really need to do is look outside of ourselves. We can:

  • Look to God
  • Look to serve others
  • Connect with others

Doing these things will get our focus off of ourselves and onto others. And perhaps our problems will seem smaller because we have turned outward.

4. Inspire Yourself with Declarations

Nephi then makes declarations to lift his spirits.

28 Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.

29 Do not anger again because of mine enemies. Do not slacken my strength because of mine afflictions.

30 Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation.

I love the call to “Awake”. In reality, when we are feeling down, it is like we are sleeping. We have to be woken up so that we can be lifted out of our depressed state.

Overcoming Depression

The formula for battling depression is:

  1. Recognize the depression
  2. Count your blessings
  3. Look outside yourself
  4. Inspire yourself with declarations

This formula has helped me alleviate feelings of depression. I believe that we should use all methods that work to overcome depression. What methods have you used to overcome depression?

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