#145: How To Overcome Depression [Podcast]

Have you ever suffered from depression or anxiety? Depression is a major problem in the world today. By the year 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that depression will be the number two cause of “lost years of healthy life” worldwide.

This time of year feelings of depression are common. Most people suffer in silence. And in this episode I will share my own battle with depression, and give you my recipe for defeating this debilitating and deadly disease.

Tip of the Week:

screen320x480Moodtracker. Enter daily a choice of three moods and have the option to input notes as well.

You can see a twoweek calendar view from the main page, or a full month view calendar from the Calendar view.

Also, export your notes to email so you can bring in your notes to your next doctor's visit or keep for your reference.

Spiritual Foundations: Depression Is Always a Spiritual Battle

Depression is always a spiritual matter at the root – but don't let condemnation creep in.

Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.
Proverbs 25:28

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
Proverbs 13:12

  1. Decide to use the opportunity to glorify God.
  2. The deeper your depression, the more expressive your worship should be.
  3. Read the Psalms until you hear your voice – then camp there for a while.

Feature Presentation: How To Overcome Depression

Depression is a major problem in the world today.

  • By the year 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that depression will be the number two cause of “lost years of healthy life” worldwide.
  • Of the estimated 17.5 million Americans who are affected by some form of depression, 9.2 million have major or clinical depression.
  • Two-thirds of people suffering from depression do not seek necessary treatment.
  • 80% of all people with clinical depression who have received treatment significantly improve their lives.
  • The economic cost of depression is estimated at $30.4 billion a year but the cost in human suffering cannot be estimated.
  • Women experience depression about twice as often as men.

People who are not depressed don't commit suicide.

I've battled depression myself, and I know it is not an easy thing to deal with. I have tried just about every solution available to fight depression. I feel it is important to resist this force, which is more than a mere “feeling” – it is an enemy that will devour your life and the lives of those around you.

But there is hope. And I'm going to share my own battle plan and recipe for overcoming depression.

First Things First: Does God Want Me To Be Depressed?

First and foremost, let me state very clearly: I don't think depression or anxiety are ever from the Lord. Ever. End of discussion.

God can and does use bad things and turns them ultimately to our good-but that is his work in redeeming an imperfect creation from the curse mankind placed it under. It is not him abusing his children in order to “teach them something”.

The theology here is very deep:

Good things come from God.

Bad things come from Satan.

Children understand this. It takes adults make it complicated.

Ray's 9-Step Anti-Depression Recipe

  1. Prayer daily, as a conversation with God.
  2. Practice the awareness of God's Presence.
  3. Journaling daily (I use Day One, and a template of questions that I answer each day. I store the template as a TextExpander snippet).
  4. Read 5 Psalms and 1 chapter of Proverbs daily (in addition to normal Bible reading/study)
  5. Vigorous Exercise 6 days per week (while listening to powerful, positive UPBEAT worship music – ie, no “I've written an ode to my problems” type songs)
  6. Daily declarations (speaking out loud the promises of the word, see the book above)
  7. Paleo Diet to regulate blood sugar and neurochemistry
  8. Supplementation (especially Vitamin D and B-Complex)
  9. Tracking mood daily (use MoodTracker App)

Additional Resources For Battling Depression

Here is a list of resources that have been very useful to me.

Final Thoughts On Overcoming Depression

No discussion of this topic would be complete without mentioning antidepressant medications.

As a last resort, I can tell you that antidepressant medications can be useful.

But I strongly believe this is only after you have exhausted every other possible answer. There are peer-reviewed, controlled studies that demonstrate vigorous exercise is just as effective as antidepressants in most patients.

The possible exception to this rule is that you may have an actual physiological problem in your brain.

In my case, because I was been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, I have empirical evidence that my neurological systems are flawed. Specifically, the production and delivery of dopamine, which controls movement, is at the root of most Parkinson's symptoms. It just so happens that dopamine also controls mood. Thus, there may be more of a direct physiological element in my individual case. But even this is in dispute amongst experts.

I have taken anti-depressants, under the close supervision of a medical professional. So if you need to do this, please do not accept any shame or condemnation for doing so.

God always does the healing, whether through the laying on of hands by a believer… or the laying on of hands by a doctor. Or the blessing of intellect that allows the creation of medicines that heal.

The Role Of Psychology and Psychiatry In Treating Depression

If you seek counseling of any kind, I strongly recommend working with a Christian counselor, and finding one who does not have some perverse “theology of suffering”. Unless you want to suffer and believe it is “for a reason”.

I have in the past sought out professional help with depression. Even when I went to see a medical professional, I sought one who was a believer, because the baseline theological premises one begins with influence the final practical outcome conclusions one forms. Even in medicine.

Get The Transcript

Click here to get the transcript. Transcripts provided by SuccessTranscripts – a great solution if you need your podcast, sermon, speech, or other audio transcribed.

Question: Have you ever struggled with feelings of depression?  Click here to leave your comments.

Tags: ,

Ray Edwards is a world-renowned copywriter and communications strategist, writing for some of the most powerful voices in leadership and business including New York Times bestselling authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and Tony Robbins. Ray is a sought-after speaker and author, hosts a popular weekly podcast, and blogs at RayEdwards.com.

Grow Your Business

Grow Your Business

Proven teaching. Inspired approach. Free Course.

Click Here to Subscribe

  • Ron Pitzen

    Greetings Ray and Tribe,

    Thank you, Ray, for this thought provoking post. I am blessed with a vibrant and productive faith in God. I do my part to uphold communication, but that primary relationship in my life is 99 plus percent grace and I easily acknowledge that to be true.

    I have these thoughts on the 5 Powerful Ways To See The Road Ahead:

    I have rehearsed the downside of Murphy’s Law for far too many of my 64 years and I have the gray hair to demonstrate the struggle with such negativity. Even as God walked so closely with me throughout those earlier years, I allowed low self-worth, shame and failure to plague my soul. It is thought by theologians and philosophers alike that the soul is comprised of the mind, the emotions and the will. I have been brought to believe that confusion is exactly and only the conflict between mind and emotions and that conflict’s resulting confusion easily paralyzes the will. These struggles, I think, experiences I call soul wounds, are responsible for most of the difference we see between individual potential (a person’s “Possible”) and actual life-outcomes. The soul wounds in my life resulted initially from the rejections I suffered during youth (neglect, abandonment and abuse), but as time went on and one soul wound perpetuated the next, my way to the future God had planned for me became obscured. I could see the “Possible” at work in the lives of others, but thought myself unworthy of the same. I was lost and, at that time, seemed to have no one to help me get found!

    Jeremiah prophesies, “’For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope’” (29:11 NASB). Such are the encouraging and comforting words of a providential God! For years, I worked to integrate that promise with the words of Romans 8:28: “We know that ALL (emphasis mine) things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (NRSV). So the age-old question played over and over again in my mind: “Why would a good God allow such evil and pain in the world – in my life?” Note: I do not believe that God causes the evil and pain, but that He does allow it! Could it be that God’s plan for our good future and hope works its way out in and through the evil and pain He allows us to experience at the hands of others in the world? The answer I have eventually come to: “Yes, I believe it is so!” I once read somewhere that if we could see the big picture (God’s perspective), we would thank Him for the pain. Today, I am grateful for all that I have experienced: the good and the seemingly not-so-good. My voice and the author-ity I have in the lives of the people God places in my path are solely an outgrowth of this blend: the things I have endured and the healing grace of a loving and “Provident” God.


    Eventually, healing brought a measure of peace to my tortured soul. I had not previously experienced such tranquility and the inner stillness truly did surpass my understanding (Phil 4:6). I pursued God diligently in the silence and read all I could about mystical communion with God, focusing my study and practice primarily in the ways of 16th century Carmelite mystics: John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila. Mystical encounter became so profound that, to this day, my prayer-life exists primarily in that way of silent communion with God. The peace and direction I find there is sweet beyond comparison and “Peaceful” beyond explanation.


    There is a creature that dwells far below ground in caves, every one of them with full access to the warmth of the sun if only they would crawl to the mouth of the cave. They have been aptly named Cave Salamanders. They have eyes, but have no need of them and can barely see. As I thought about them, I began to wonder: “Does the Cave Salamander know it lives in absolute darkness?” Think about that! The Emperor Penguin lives on a one-mile-thick sheet of ice. Does the Penguin know it’s cold? Living on volcanic cracks a mile down in the ocean, the Pompeii Worm lives in near-boiling salt water. Does the Pompeii Worm know it’s hot? Does a fish know it lives in the water? I answer “No” to all four questions!

    “How does that enter into this discussion?” you might ask. Well, while in the survival mode of earlier life, I had no idea of how powerful I was created to become or any belief that creative and positive power was possible in my life. I was that Cave Salamander, that Penguin, Pompeii Worm – the fish! As oblivious as I was to the Possible, somewhere in the still center of my being, Holy Spirit has always inspired a sure knowledge that God desires to do something great through me. As that inspiration took root in more conscious thought – or belief, it became an embarrassment in me to ever speak such words, believing them to be prideful, arrogant or maybe even foolish. More and more, though, that inspiration lives just below the surface of my consciousness, pressing ever outward to full expression. This I have come to believe with every fiber of my being: I am “Powerful” well beyond my own making. I am destined . . . .

    As a flesh wound leaves a flesh scar after healing, so a soul wound leaves a soul scar. The flesh scar shrinks the skin and tissue around the original wound and, although work can still be accomplished by scarred tissue, it will never be the same – not as effective as before the wound. And were it not for God, so it would be in every way with the soul! True, there are things that seem permanently different for me than what I think are the reality for those who weren’t wounded so young or so deeply as I was. For example, I don’t know if I will ever trust as easily or as completely as they might. But this I know that I know: having been both wounded and healed, I am a far better man. Wounded and healed, I am immensely more useful as a tool in the hands of God as He operates through me in the lives of others in need. I am blessed! In some back-door way, I am grateful for the pain that Prepared me for the life I am living today.

    “’For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord,
    ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope’” (Jer. 29:11 NASB).

    Ron Pitzen
    14 December 2014

    • Kathleen Thompson

      I think about Jesus’ wounds, and that He still bears them. However, those wounds represent our redemption. And Jesus redeems our wounds as well. He uses our weaknesses, those things that we think hold us back or make us less worthy, for His glory. I have many battle-scars from my years on this earth. I wear them as a reminder of just how much God has done in and through my life. They are a thing of beauty.
      We have been forged by the Refiner’s fire. What a gift to be counted as one worthy of making that investment. Thanks for sharing your heart. God bless you as you walk out God’s plan for you.

      • Ron Pitzen

        What a beautiful touch, Kathleen! It is true, what you say about the Refiner’s fire. If we allow it, Christ employs us as walking epistles — flesh and blood revelation of God’s plan for His world. Thank you for your beautiful spirit and for your encouraging words. I pray, may the radiant peace of our Christmas Babe fill you and those you love to overflowing.

  • Thank you Ray for keeping it real with such a deeply thoughtful, well reasoned and practical post! I think worship “in spirit and truth” is good for you because it takes the focus off of self and puts it on the only Source of Life worthy of our full attention and devotion. God designed it this way. I believe this shift in perspective is transformational because it opens the human spirit to both receive and give the gift of true Love.

    Yes I’ve struggled with depression, especially recently. I thought it was related to physical health/aging, but actually – counseling was the best treatment. So, as someone who most would think of as “very spiritual”, I think it’s helpful for Christians to not “over-spiritualize” a complicated issue that has different causes and solutions for every individual.

    This was an awesome post/podcast and I hope it opens up a helpful, healing dialogue. You rock! Merry Christmas!

  • Danna Demetre

    Much needed wisdom and encouragement for those struggling with depression. Appreciate your transparency, Ray.

  • Outstanding episode. I have bookmarked to share with friends who have been challenged by depression. Thank you for always sharing uplifting and encouraging words.

    • Thank you so much.

    • Stephen Skinner

      I have bookmarked and shared this episode as well. I agree with so many of your thoughts 110%! Although some people do have a severe imbalance, as a pharmacist, I saw way too many bright, vibrant people become zombies from the over prescribing of antidepressants. I saw this then cascade into lack of motivation, weight gain, and then a cascade of more medications. It was really heart breaking to observe. (And it is not easy to get off them either). Much like addiction, I have long felt like depression is a spiritual warfare battle. Our enemy knows our weaknesses and this is one of his attacks, especially among more affluent societies. This is why your steps 1-6 are so empowering! Great work Ray! You should make this a book and a speaking topic. This is a huge problem and a huge ministry opportunity for you!

  • Kathleen Thompson

    Ray, it’s courageous of you to tackle this topic. I’m so glad you did. Two other activities that have been found to help with depression are play (your exercise to upbeat music can be one method of play) and singing in a community chorus. Singing communally for a long period of time actually releases feel-good and bonding hormones. For me dancing and singing to praise music has helped me through times of grief and illness.
    Have a blessed and joyous Christmas. -Kathleen

    • That’s a great suggestion, Kathleen. I know you speak from experience. Here’s wishing you a very joyous and blessed Christmas, as well!

  • I’ve dealt with mild depression since I was in my late teens – and it always happens when I start thinking of myself, my conditions, my failures, my disappointments, and playing around with the idea that things will never change. Recovering from depresson for me often involves prayer (although it’s always a grinding kind of prayer when I’m depressed – the kind of prayer where I wonder if I’m just talking to the walls). When I’m in it – I try to step back and force my spirit into taking a longer perspective (as in – this will get better in the morning, or ‘this won’t last forever). I try not to make decisions when I’m in that state. And I’m better now at ‘catching myself’ when I fall into self-condemnation. In other words, I’m better at ‘knowing’ when I’m in it as opposed to just being in it (if that makes sense). I think self-condemnation is the worst part of depression. I quite certain I don’t have clinical depression – I think it’s more of a learned response to my own disappointments. It’s something I constantly have to work to undo. Thank you so much for your 9 tips. Sometimes all we need is rest. Take care my friend.

    • “Sometimes all we need is rest.” – that is absolutely correct! Thanks for sharing, Dan.

  • Pingback: How To Get Your Missing Podcast Episodes Back | Ray Edwards()

  • Ray, this episode is the perfect example of why I listen to your show every week. Sure, you provide value to me as I look to become an entrepreneur but, more importantly, you provide comfort and understanding – things that I don’t get from other shows. I struggle with depression and have for many years so it is always so inspiring to see what you have been able to do in your life. Thank you for this episode and all of the ways you help me throughout the year. Merry Christmas and God bless you!

    • Thank you Christopher – and Merry Christmas to you, too!

  • sean rooney

    Ray, I cured myself of depression 15 years ago after suffering from it for about five years. Anyone can do it – but it takes work. I agree with most of the advice you provided and I might add two more tips. 1) Protect your thoughts and focus on healthy perspectives vs. negative thoughts. Even negative experiences can be perceived positively. 2) Insure that you are getting enough vitamin D. Vitamin D can have a big influence on your emotions and you can feel depressed if you are not getting enough. The best source of Vitamin D is the Sun. Happy New Year!

    • Thanks Sean – good advice, worth taking.

  • Micki

    Yes, Ray, I have been battling feelings of depression for about a year now. While it is not severe, I find it baffling, as I just experienced an incredible first year of business and am at a great point personally, spiritually and financially in my life.

    I have taken your recommendations to heart and have particularly started to read aloud at least one Bible passage every morning during my 20-minute morning meditation/prayer/bible reading time. I read the creation passage in Genesis yesterday morning and felt my heart and mood strengthen as I read the words. Thank you so much for bringing this technique to me, I believe that your podcast was a “god whisper” to help me recognize and acknowledge this issue and put practices into place to overcome it.

    Blessings to you and your family in 2015!


  • Chris


    In my recent state of depression which I have battled for the past 14 months, I had started to not make the right choices. After repenting, getting a blessing from my Bishop and committing to read the scriptures twice daily recently (amongst other activities), things went sideways this morning. I decided to add scriptures to my commute, however my daily download today failed – for multiple podcasts, except for this one episode! Heavenly Father knew what I needed most and your discussion was it.

    I now have additional resources – from a scriptural perspective, to draw upon.

    I appreciate your earnest discussions, and the fact that I can hear the Light of Christ in all you discuss.

    Ray – may Heavenly Father continue to bless you, your work and your life!


  • Pingback: Episode 046: Overcoming Depression - Stephen F Skinner()

  • Pingback: How to Overcome Life’s Curve Balls with Ray Edwards()