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Depression


Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of AmericA
Feeling Blue? Depression

Topic:  Depression

Objective 

To give the participants an understanding that mild depression is normal and the Orthodox Church understands these feelings and has tools to help.

Preparing for the Session

In preparing for this session, it is important that you familiarize yourself with the Psalms used for the discussion activities. It is also recommended that you familiarize yourself with the Orthodox teaching on depression the following resources will aide you in this effort:

Depression is a serious condition and this session should not be used as a way to deal with acute depression.  This should be left to a professional.  This session is meant to address the mild cases of feeling blue. It is important to note that if you or a young person are feeling this way for a prolonged period and feel you may be depressed, please consult with a professional.

Materials Needed 

  • Copies of the Psalms
  • Activity Sheet enough copies for each group, cut up and in a bag
  • Worksheet for small group instruction
  • Paper
  • Pens or pencils
  • Flip chart and markers
  • Make copies of the February 2005 Challenge for GOYAns to take home

Opening Prayer  (all together)

    1 O LORD, do not rebuke me in Your anger,
       Nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure.
       2Have mercy on me, O LORD, for I am weak;
       O LORD, heal me, for my bones are troubled.
       3My soul also is greatly troubled;
       But You, O LORD--how long?
       4Return, O LORD, deliver me!
       Oh, save me for Your mercies' sake!
       5For in death there is no remembrance of You;
       In the grave who will give You thanks?
       6I am weary with my groaning;
       All night I make my bed swim;
       I drench my couch with my tears.
       7My eye wastes away because of grief;
       It grows old because of all my enemies.
       8Depart from me, all you workers of iniquity;
       For the LORD has heard the voice of my weeping.
       9The LORD has heard my supplication;
       The LORD will receive my prayer.
       10Let all my enemies be ashamed and greatly troubled;
       Let them turn back and be ashamed suddenly.

Activity Emotion charades

Divide the participants into groups of 6-10.  Each group should have a judge and a facilitator.  Judges will confirm when the correct answer is given and count the number of times a team passes. Each team will be given 4 passes if needed. Using the Activity Sheet, “How Do You Feel Today?” cut along the grid and put the cut pieces in a bag for each group.  Have the participants take turns reaching into the bag and acting out the “feeling words” they chose to their group until all the papers are selected.  (Some feelings will be difficult to act alone and participant should be given the option to act it out with someone.) Unlike charades, the teams do not alternate but are playing simultaneously and are racing against the clock, not each other.  The team that finishes the most in 10 minutes wins. When activity is finished, gather everyone together again for the main presentation.

State (paraphrase in your own words)

We just did an activity that let us have some fun while looking at many of the different emotions we have. Emotions are complex and can really impact our day in both negative and positive ways. Today we will be talking about times when we feel blue which we all feel from time to time.  We just open our session with a prayer from the Psalms. This Psalm is read during the Great Compline, a service during the Lenten Season.   Let’s read it again.

Read Psalm 6

    1 O LORD, do not rebuke me in Your anger,
       Nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure.
       2Have mercy on me, O LORD, for I am weak;
       O LORD, heal me, for my bones are troubled.
       3My soul also is greatly troubled;
       But You, O LORD--how long?
       4Return, O LORD, deliver me!
       Oh, save me for Your mercies' sake!
       5For in death there is no remembrance of You;
       In the grave who will give You thanks?
       6I am weary with my groaning;
       All night I make my bed swim;
       I drench my couch with my tears.
       7My eye wastes away because of grief;
       It grows old because of all my enemies.
       8Depart from me, all you workers of iniquity;
       For the LORD has heard the voice of my weeping.
       9The LORD has heard my supplication;
       The LORD will receive my prayer.
       10Let all my enemies be ashamed and greatly troubled;
       Let them turn back and be ashamed suddenly.

Discuss (accept all answers and reflect back)

  • How would you describe the tone of the Psalm? 
  • What are some of the feelings expressed in the Psalm?

List the feelings on a board so everyone can see.

Think for a moment if you have felt these feelings. 

How did you find comfort?  Did a friend take you out to keep you company?  Did you hold the feelings inside?  Did you write in a journal?

The Orthodox Church is aware that people experience these feelings.  This is why this Psalm is part of the Compline service. 

What other tools does the Orthodox Church offer us to deal with these feelings? 

As the participants offer the tools, look for answers such as: prayer, confession, communion, fellowship, reading the Bible, talking to a parent or relative.  List these on the board.

  • Do these things burden us or help us?
  • How do they burden us?
  • How do they help us?
  • How often can we go to these tools for help?
  • Which of these tools have you used when you were blue?
  • Can people get tired of us asking them for help?
  • Does God ever get tired of us asking Him for help?

God never tires of us asking him for help. He is always there for us.

Small Group Activity

Break up into smaller groups (4 -6 people.)  Each group will be given a copy of one of the following Psalms: 51, 103, 70, 143 as well as the worksheet for small group discussion.

Have the groups each answer the following questions:

  • What is the tone of this psalm?
  • How does the author see himself?
  • How does the author see others?
  • How does the author see God?
  • What does the author expect God to do?
  • What does the author expect of himself?

Have the groups write a psalm describing how they see the world today. Have them consider the following: You may have some poets in the groups who would like to write a personal psalm.  This can be encouraged after the group is finished.

  • How does the group see themselves?
  • How does the group see others?
  • How does the group see God?
  • What does the group expect God to do?
  • What does the group expect of itself?

Gather all the groups together for Summary.

Ask one representative from each group to share their psalms with everyone.  Be sure to save a copy of the Psalms to share with the parish priest if they are not present.

Wrap Up

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there was one only.
This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from anguish,
sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints,
so I said to the Lord,
“You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you,
you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life
there has only been one set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?”
The Lord replied,
“The years when you have seen only one set of footprints,
my child, is when I carried you.”

-By Mary Stevenson

Closing Prayer  (all together)

Lord, grant me to greet the coming day in peace, help me in all things to rely upon Your holy will.  In every hour of the day reveal Your will to me.  Teach me to treat all that comes to me throughout the day with peace of soul and with firm conviction that Your will governs all.  In all my deeds and words, guide my thoughts and feelings.  In unforeseen events let me not forget that all things are sent by You.  Teach me to act firmly and wisely without embittering and embarrassing others.  Give me strength to bear the fatigue of the coming day and all that it shall bring.  Direct my will, teach me to pray.  And, Yourself, pray in me.  Amen.

About the Author 

Vassi Makris Haros is a graduate of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. She has served the Metropolises of Detroit and Pittsburgh as their Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries.

Activity Sheet

How Do You Feel Today?

 

HAPPY

 

 

SAD

 

ANGRY

 

FEAR

 

PEACE

 

HOPEFUL

 

 

EMBARASSED

 

ANNOYED

 

WEARY

 

 

FORGETFUL

 

 

 

ASHAMED

 

 

TROUBLED

 

GUILTY

 

BETRAYED

 

LONELY

 

 

 

OPPRESSED

 

 

RENEWED

 

CONFUSED

 

NEEDY

 

OVERWHELMED

 

 

 

TRUSTFUL

 

 

JOYOUS

 

GRIEF

 

PLEASED

 

MERCIFUL

 

 

 

 

Psalm 6

A Prayer of Faith in Time of Distress

    1 O LORD, do not rebuke me in Your anger,
       Nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure.
       2Have mercy on me, O LORD, for I am weak;
       O LORD, heal me, for my bones are troubled.
       3My soul also is greatly troubled;
       But You, O LORD--how long?
       4Return, O LORD, deliver me!
       Oh, save me for Your mercies' sake!
       5For in death there is no remembrance of You;
       In the grave who will give You thanks?
       6I am weary with my groaning;
       All night I make my bed swim;
       I drench my couch with my tears.
       7My eye wastes away because of grief;
       It grows old because of all my enemies.
       8Depart from me, all you workers of iniquity;
       For the LORD has heard the voice of my weeping.
       9The LORD has heard my supplication;
       The LORD will receive my prayer.
       10Let all my enemies be ashamed and greatly troubled;
       Let them turn back and be ashamed suddenly.

Psalm 51

A Prayer of Repentance

       1 Have mercy upon me, O God,
       According to Your lovingkindness;
       According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
       Blot out my transgressions.
       2Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
       And cleanse me from my sin.
       3For I acknowledge my transgressions,
       And my sin is always before me.
       4Against You, You only, have I sinned,
       And done this evil in Your sight--
       That You may be found just when You speak,
       And blameless when You judge.
       5Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
       And in sin my mother conceived me.
       6Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,
       And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.
       7Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
       Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
       8Make me hear joy and gladness,
       That the bones You have broken may rejoice.
       9Hide Your face from my sins,
       And blot out all my iniquities.
       10Create in me a clean heart, O God,
       And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
       11Do not cast me away from Your presence,
       And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
       12Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
       And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
       13Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
       And sinners shall be converted to You.
       14Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
       The God of my salvation,
       And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.
       15O Lord, open my lips,
       And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
       16For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
       You do not delight in burnt offering.
       17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
       A broken and a contrite heart--
       These, O God, You will not despise.
       18Do good in Your good pleasure to Zion;
       Build the walls of Jerusalem.
       19Then You shall be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness,
       With burnt offering and whole burnt offering;
       Then they shall offer bulls on Your altar.

Psalm 103

Praise for the LORD's Mercies

    1 Bless the LORD, O my soul;
       And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
       2Bless the LORD, O my soul,
       And forget not all His benefits:
       3Who forgives all your iniquities,
       Who heals all your diseases,
       4Who redeems your life from destruction,
       Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
       5Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
       So that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
       6The LORD executes righteousness
       And justice for all who are oppressed.
       7He made known His ways to Moses,
       His acts to the children of Israel.
       8The LORD is merciful and gracious,
       Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.
       9He will not always strive with us,
       Nor will He keep His anger forever.
       10He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
       Nor punished us according to our iniquities.
       11For as the heavens are high above the earth,
       So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
       12As far as the east is from the west,
       So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
       13As a father pities his children,
       So the LORD pities those who fear Him.
       14For He knows our frame;
       He remembers that we are dust.
       15As for man, his days are like grass;
       As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
       16For the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
       And its place remembers it no more.
       17But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting
       On those who fear Him,
       And His righteousness to children's children,
       18To such as keep His covenant,
       And to those who remember His commandments to do them.
       19The LORD has established His throne in heaven,
       And His kingdom rules over all.
       20Bless the LORD, you His angels,
       Who excel in strength, who do His word,
       Heeding the voice of His word.
       21Bless the LORD, all you His hosts,
       You ministers of His, who do His pleasure.
       22Bless the LORD, all His works,
       In all places of His dominion.
       Bless the LORD, O my soul!

Psalm 70

Prayer for Relief from Adversaries

    1 Make haste, O God, to deliver me!
       Make haste to help me, O LORD!
       2Let them be ashamed and confounded
       Who seek my life;
       Let them be turned back and confused
       Who desire my hurt.
       3Let them be turned back because of their shame,
       Who say, "Aha, aha!"
       4Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You;
       And let those who love Your salvation say continually,
       "Let God be magnified!"
       5But I am poor and needy;
       Make haste to me, O God!
       You are my help and my deliverer;
       O LORD, do not delay.

Psalm 143

An Earnest Appeal for Guidance and Deliverance

A Psalm of David.

    1 Hear my prayer, O LORD,
       Give ear to my supplications!
       In Your faithfulness answer me,
       And in Your righteousness.
       2Do not enter into judgment with Your servant,
       For in Your sight no one living is righteous.
       3For the enemy has persecuted my soul;
       He has crushed my life to the ground;
       He has made me dwell in darkness,
       Like those who have long been dead.
       4Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me;
       My heart within me is distressed.
       5I remember the days of old;
       I meditate on all Your works;
       I muse on the work of Your hands.
       6I spread out my hands to You;
       My soul longs for You like a thirsty land. Selah
       7Answer me speedily, O LORD;
       My spirit fails!
       Do not hide Your face from me,
       Lest I be like those who go down into the pit.
       8Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning,
       For in You do I trust;
       Cause me to know the way in which I should walk,
       For I lift up my soul to You.
       9Deliver me, O LORD, from my enemies;
       In You I take shelter.
       10Teach me to do Your will,
       For You are my God;
       Your Spirit is good.
       Lead me in the land of uprightness.
       11Revive me, O LORD, for Your name's sake!
       For Your righteousness' sake bring my soul out of trouble.
       12In Your mercy cut off my enemies,
       And destroy all those who afflict my soul;
       For I am Your servant.

Worksheet for Small Group Discussion 

Have each group answer the following questions:

 

  • What is the tone of this psalm?
  • How does the author see himself?
  • How does the author see others?
  • How does the author see God?
  • What does the author expect God to do?
  • What does the author expect of himself?

Have the groups write a psalm describing how they see the world today.  Have them consider the following:

  • How does the group see themselves?
  • How does the group see others?
  • How does the group see God?
  • What does the group expect God to do?
  • What does the group expect of itself?