The Christian Broadcasting Network

  • Give To CBN
  • Partners
  • Jobs
  • Log In or Sign Up

Marriage 911

About this Blog

Dr. David Hawkins is the director of The Marriage Recovery Center and has been helping couples in crisis restore and revitalize their relationships for more than 30 years.

At The Marriage Recovery Center, Dr. Hawkins promotes '3 Days To a New Marriage, Guaranteed!' Contact TMRC for a free 20-minute consultation.

Related Links

Visit Dr. David Hawkins' Website

Follow Dr. Hawkins on Twitter!

Like the Relationship Doctor on Facebook's Family Section

Overcoming Depression

“Have you ever noticed how much work it takes to remain depressed?” I asked the young woman sitting across from me.

She looked at me quizzically, waiting for me to continue. Samantha had struggled with depression for years, and I doubt she had ever heard a psychologist say something so ludicrous.

“No, it’s true,” I continued. “My goodness. Think about it. If I want to be depressed—which I don’t—I have to take all of the following steps.” I paused to let my words sink in.

Samantha was still looking at me as if I had three eyes. She decided to jump in before I gave my list of steps necessary to create depression.

“I don’t seem to have to do much to be depressed,” she said sullenly. “It just happens. And it seems to happen naturally.”

“Oh, I have no doubt that you’ve perfected the steps necessary to become depressed,” I said. “But it didn’t come naturally early in your life. Little children aren’t naturally depressed. Go to the park and see if you notice any depressed four year olds. You’re not going to find any there, I can assure you of that. Nope, we have to learn all the steps to become depressed.”

“I still think it comes naturally to me,” she said, her face drawn, with furrowed brows and significantly overweight.

“So, I’ve thought about this and would like to run my ideas by you,” I said, hoping to pique her interest. She had been depressed for the past couple years and was struggling to let go of her deep, dark mood.

“What I’ve noticed is this,” I said. “People who are chronically depressed tend to dress in drab colors, live in drab surroundings, think pessimistically about the future, isolate themselves, work at uninteresting jobs, take boring vacations, limit their fun and let others control their lives. They believe their lives are controlled by external factors rather than believing they have a huge impact on the quality of their lives. They are passive rather than active. Am I right about these observations?”

Samantha thought for a moment and then responded.

“From the list you just gave, I’d have to say that I fit every one of them. I know I let others control my life. I believe I can’t change the things that are bothering me, hate my job, dress in drab colors and, well you can see that I’m 50 pounds overweight. Are you saying that if I change those things I can get over my depression?”

“With the exception of any biochemical aspect of your depression, how you think and live have a huge impact on your mood. So, yes, if you’re willing to look critically at those aspects of your life, you can impact your mood for the better.”

I had one more curve ball to throw at Samantha before we looked at the list.

“Before you decide to tackle these things, I want you to think about one more thing,” I said.

“Sure,” she said. “What is it?”

“I want you to ask yourself if there are any reasons why you wouldn’t want to change those things. Depressed people often say they want to be happy, but then won’t do the things necessary to be happy people. So, ask yourself if you’re really serious about being happy.”

With that we reviewed some of the steps necessary to move from depression to happiness.

1. Take responsibility.

Just as we would with any debilitating condition, we must take action against our depression. We cannot wait to feel better. Rather, we must critically examine our lives and determine what are the primary causes for the depression.

2. Admit the truth.

We cannot afford to live in denial. If our job is sapping our energy, we must change it. If we need to earn more money, we must get the education and experience necessary to get it. If our marriage or primary relationship is less than satisfying, we must seek help.

3. Examine patterns of thinking and behaving that reinforce our depression.

Depression is rarely something that happens to us, but rather is a combination of factors that leads to depression. We must understand those patterns and acknowledge that change will be frightening.

4. Change old patterns of behavior and thinking.

This will require reading good material on depression, noticing how happy people live differently than we do, memorize scripture and seek God’s wisdom. Ultimately, we must risk change.

5. Prepare for growth.

Scripture tells us that as we sow to the Spirit, we will reap to the Spirit. In other words, as we invest in spiritual growth we will grow. As we grow, joy and well-being are a byproduct. So, if you are ready to shed the skin of depression, and are ready for change, you are ready to think and act differently, leading to a happier life.  

Share your feedback or send a confidential note to me at and read more about The Marriage Recovery Center on my website and You’ll find videos and podcasts on saving a troubled marriage, codependency and affair-proofing your marriage.

Print      Email to a Friend    posted on Monday, January 28, 2013 3:39 PM

Comments on this post

# RE: Overcoming Depression

Left by L01J26 on Feb 01, 2013 10:01 AM

# RE: Overcoming Depression

This is an irresponsible article for someone to read who is clinically depressed. For someone with severe depression, they first step to take is to seek medical help, not to change their wardrobe.

If someone is clinically depressed they will not have the ability to follow your multi-step "program". That failure can potentially lead to their harming themselves and possibly committing suicide. That is entirely on you and I hope your god marks down every incident and holds them against you. It is criminal.

Thanks for nothing.
Left by Rocky on Jan 10, 2014 2:32 PM

# RE: Overcoming Depression

I can't say I disagree with this writing, however, to those of us who suffer again and again with major depressive episodes, it comes across slightly condescending as though we can think our way out of it and just get happy. Anyone whose has ever suffered from depression knows that that is impossible. That said, I do think these five things are definitely things to consider when one is NOT to the point of contemplating suicide. Perhaps examining our lives and thinking patterns and everything mentioned above is helpful. But certainly not without the love and support of someone who offers unconditional love, the gift of listening, and the wisdom to guide you toward that which is healing. I have found that the longer I deal with depression (30 years now) the closer together the episodes of major depression become. I've resigned myself to the fact that I will most likely die by suicide one day. I wonder what it's like to wake up and want to live and find joy in living. I just can't
Left by Nance on Jan 31, 2014 12:45 AM

# RE: Overcoming Depression

I sympathize, can relate to your dilemma. My eldest daughter suffered from anxiety, panic&depression, even contemplated suicide. That day, she was hired for a new job by a loving church member, a CEO whose wife had asked me or one of my3daughters to apply. I was over-qualified, my youngest under-qualified, my eldest got the job! Now tell me that wasn't an act of God Almighty who used others to help. However, we must comply! When my son-in-law told me that he was about to give up on my darling daughter,I said to him, "If you as her husband don't get her medical help, I as her mother will!" He acted on that, though he won't admit it today. My daughter needed clinical help; it was a chemical imbalance. For years she took Paxil; last yr weaned herself of it! She is again close to our Lord; still fragile-much stronger. I am now here with them, giving her most of my attention. Her only daughter now suffers-must also be genetic. We are now her support group. Don't let Satan win God's battle!
Left by Estelle D. Montoya on Jan 31, 2014 1:12 PM

# RE: Overcoming Depression

Dr. Hawkins, I must say if you wrote the above, you have been extremely irresponsible. I wonder if you really had any patients who have suffered real clinical depression, because if you have had them truly, I shudder to think how they must have felt speaking to you of their problems. I suffered clinical depression as a fairly young woman, when I knew nothing of it, was working full time and was always quite a happy go lucky type of person. I became exhausted and broke down completely and did not want to sleep/eat live or die. I felt nothing, except despair, others noticed before I did that something was very wrong. I laid on a couch in my mom's home for 1 year without going anywhere but to the bathroom, and that was a feat that needed help from my mom to accomplish. Be very careful Sir, to lump all depression and depressives in one because trust me you don't seem to know the extent of real clinical depression on a person as a whole, mentally, spiritually and physically.
Left by joy on Mar 01, 2014 5:50 PM

# RE: Overcoming Depression

When I finished Mr Hawkin's article ,I read the comments by the way .I had to say something ,though I'm not a man with badly depression,I think such a man need mostly is love, unconditional、tough love,not so said self-change ,it's impossible in this stage ,unless love comes to help 1
Left by peterxing on May 30, 2014 10:42 AM

# RE: Overcoming Depression

It seems that my good brother in Christ Dr.Hawkins has great advice for the general "worried well" population who suffer depression but not those who have suffered from the type of insidious clinical depression of Tartarus (the darkest and coldest place in hell). For those of us who have taken this underworld journey in depression the church needs so much more sophistication and understanding about this illness. Just ask Rick Warren. Here is one Pastor who really understands and "gets it" as a result of his son's depression and subsequent suicide.
Left by Rev. Terrence P. McGillicuddy on Sep 22, 2014 11:13 AM