Francis Chan on the issue of depression

As a BetterHelp affiliate, we may receive compensation from BetterHelp if you purchase products or services through the links provided

In this blog we will discuss Francis Chan and his confession about depression. 

Francis Chan on the issue of depression

Francis Chan, American Protestant church leader, author, teacher, and preacher opened up about his own struggle with depression as a result of flattery and criticism that often wears down church leaders. 

Chan, following the success of “Crazy Love” started a conversation on how the unexpected fame and success impacted his own life in a 31-minute video for Thrive Conference in 2013.

In this conversation he proposed that the flattery and criticism popular Christian leaders face is often the cause of pressures that eventually bring leaders down because it is difficult to remain humble and strong in the face of both praise and unprecedented criticism. 

During this self disclosure he noted:

“I don’t know how someone, who likes me, can draw a crowd from speaking and stay humble with that type of attention and that many people flattering you. And I also don’t know how a guy like me can keep from killing himself with that much criticism and the depression that comes with that.” (Thrive Conference 2013)

He noted that it was following the success of Crazy love that the situation caused him to put some serious thought into the problem of what it means to be a leader and how one can cope with mental health and spiritual health in the face of praise and criticism. 

He has been very frank in this conversation when he explored how the present day church leaders of mega churches have not been trained enough to be able to hold up under the pressures of being a popular leader- especially on the internet. 

Chan goes on to say that because of the fact that leaders today have access to the internet and much easier access to a platform, they have not been trained in terms of “from stacking chairs to discipling high school boys to cleaning bathrooms—before they were put in front of an audience” that was usually the case of the old model of training. 

Chan questioned whether he is a cushion as to whether such new age leaders are “going to have the character and humility to pull it off?” with regards to a benign leader, a strong one at that in the face of criticism and praise. 

For Chan himself, he has been open about his own struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts when it came to being a leader in the face of so much criticism and fame, usually from the internet. 

Chan himself answered a very real present day dilemma for church leaders- “simplify and think like a parent”. He highlighted that the focus needs to be on the people who the leaders are leading and teaching. 

An attitude of parenthood, responsibility, and shepherding is what he calls for in the generation of new church leaders to be able to withstand both criticism and praise. 

What is depression?

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), a leading publication used for diagnosis of mental disorders by mental health professionals, Major depressive disorder or depression is a serious mood disorder.

Depression is marked by the following symptoms:

  • Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day- either by their own observation or observation made by others.
  • Diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day.
  • Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia. 
  • A slowing down of thought and a reduction of physical movement (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down).
  • Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day.
  • Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.

Depression symptoms also include extremely low mood and fatigue and is often accompanied by thoughts of worthlessness and hopelessness which can lead to suicidal ideation and even attempts. 

Depression related symptoms such as inability to focus, lack of energy, and hopelessness can impact a person’s ability to work and meet the demands of their daily lives. 

People with depression often struggle with low self esteem and self worth which can cause them to negatively assess themselves. They may fear rejection and abandonment from other people which may cause them to isolate themselves in a bid to protect themselves.

This social withdrawal can make it difficult for them to maintain social commitments and relationships as they might choose to push people away especially when they do not have the skills to communicate and manage their emotions and thoughts. 

While these are some of the ways depression impacts a person, the disorder itself can cause the quality of life of people who have it to drastically decrease and in extreme cases, if the disorder is left untreated, it can lead to suicide attempts and death. 

How to cope and manage if you have depression?

Here are a few things you can do to cope with depression:

Seek out advice

The first thing that you can do if you are experiencing depression is to seek out advice from your teacher or spiritual guide. 

It is likely that they have come across many of their students who have also faced this issue as you are currently facing and it is likely that they have helped them through it. 

So, seek them out and ask them for advice, be honest about what you feel, and ask them to help you through it. 

Seek professional help

If you have not been diagnosed, do not stick to self diagnosis based on your symptoms. Seek out professional consultations starting with your GP who can refer you to specialists in the field. 

There may be different medications- some which might work for you while others that might not help you. 

Taking time to find a doctor who can help you with estimating the right dosage of medication and the right medical treatment can make the quality of your journey to recovery drastically different. 

Reduce stress

If it’s a job that is causing you immense stress, maybe it is time to consider taking a leave of absence. Or it could be your own family environment that is causing your symptoms to flare up- consider moving out if your financial situation persists. 

The intent here is to reduce or remove the things in your life that add stress. If it is a certain relationship, taking the time to set boundaries or communicate that you are taking time out can be one way. 

By reducing stressors, the thought of waking up and facing your day may seem a little less daunting, you might even look forward to it. 

Learn and apply coping skills

If you are depressed, you can learn coping skills and techniques and apply them at least once a day when experiencing depression. 

This can be learning how to tackle your anxieties and negative moods by regulating your breathing and engaging in deep breathing techniques. 

You can also try grounding techniques to help you cope with spiralling down a negative rumination. Make goals for each day and let your goals be small, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time bound, 

Make plans for your day that suit your pace- if today is especially difficult, make a step by step plan from your bed to the bathroom in the mornings. Reward yourself when you succeed and be kind when you slip up. Remind yourself that you are learning. 

Exercise

Engaging in exercise, even if it is only a 15 minute stretch can be a wonderful step towards loving yourself and caring for yourself. 

You can opt for joining the gym however, if this is too much you can consider yoga or pilates that you can start gradually; you can also go for walks or runs alone or with your loved ones. 

Getting out of your house and doing something that allows you to get your blood pumping in itself can be a great way of self care. 

Eat a healthy diet

Diet is an important aspect of overall health and is an important component of maintaining a positive state of mental health. 

There has been plenty of research studies that have been linked to what we eat and higher risks of depression. Research finds that well balanced meals with adequate intake of vegetables, fruits, grain, and healthy fats are related to lower risks of depression.

Sleep well

Take time to improve your sleep hygiene. Research has found that sleep disorders are also a core symptom of depression. Irregular sleep and not enough sleep can make your healing process difficult and can even heighten the risk of relapse. 

Some of the things you can do to improve your sleep hygiene are

  • Avoid substances that impact your sleep, this includes caffeine. 
  • Exercise daily
  • Avoid heavy dinners
  • Change your sleeping environment to be more soothing and sleep inducing. 
  • Make changes in your pre-sleep routine such as taking relaxing baths before sleep, avoiding gadgets two hours before sleeping time.

Connect with loved ones

Reaching out to people who love you and letting them know that you are having a hard time now, can bring you closer to people who truly love and care for you.

These are positive relationships we want and need around you as you begin your journey to recovery. Positive relationships help you discover joys and meaning to your life. 

Make plans to meet them for lunch, or go for a walk with them. Make sure you make clear what you can and cannot do and agree on something that both you and them can enjoy. 

You can also take the step to connect with other people who are coping with depression through group therapy or support groups.

Oftentimes, listening to other people’s successes can instil hope, it also gives you the opportunity to learn new perspectives of living and life along with new techniques to cope.

Conclusion

In this blog we have discussed Francis Chan and his confession about depression. 

References

Toni Ridgaway. Francis Chan Confesses Depression and Pride Over Success of ‘Crazy Love’. Church Leaders. Retrieved on 26th April 2022. https://churchleaders.com/pastors/videos-for-pastors/166831-francis-chan-on-the-pressures-of-ministry.html

Langley.J. Is my problem psychological or spiritual? (Hint: It’s probably both). Denver Catholic. Retrieved on 26th April 2022. https://denvercatholic.org/is-my-problem-psychological-or-spiritual-hint-its-probably-both/

Depression or Spiritual Warfare: What if It’s Both? Christianity Today. Retrieved on 26th April 2022. https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/podcasts/quick-to-listen/depression-or-spiritual-warfare-what-if-its-both.html

What was missing from this post which could have made it better?

[Sassy_Social_Share type="standard"]