Patrick Kennedy’s #1 Tip for Beating Depression: Love Your Neighbor

Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. right, poses for a picture with his son, Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., at the 2009 inauguration of President Barack Obama. AP Photo by US Sen. Gordon Leahy of Vermont.

Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. right, poses for a picture with his son, Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., in this AP photo by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

Former US Senator Patrick Kennedy, who has bipolar disorder and has also abused alcohol, told bphope magazine the best advice he ever got was this depression coping strategy he learned from his father, the late US Senator Ted Kennedy:

“I was at home on a family vacation and feeling sorry for myself, kind of a sullen teenager thing. My dad took me aside and suggested that I go around to all the aunts and cousins and friends and ask what I could get them to drink. They all smiled at me and thanked me, and I immediately felt better.”

In 4 simple steps

  1. Ask someone if you can do something simple to help them.
  2. They tell you what you can do.
  3. They smile at you and thank you.
  4. You feel better.

Recovery Tool is Based on Scripture

One of the things I love about this simple recovery technique is it comes straight from the pages of the Bible, where it is repeated over and over as a fundamental for all who follow God:

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”

This command isn’t just for Christians; it appears among Old Testament scripture as well. It is guidance for everyone who intends to live as part of God’s family.

So if you would like someone to get you a drink, offer drinks to others. Love them the way you like to be loved. And, as Patrick Kennedy points out, the love you give is likely to be returned, to the benefit of everyone’s mental health.

As Patrick Kennedy and his foundation put it, “There is no health without mental health.” Do God’s work of love and improve the mental health of everyone around you today.


About Carlene Hill Byron

The former editor of New England Church Life and The New England Christian, Carlene Hill Byron is enjoying being home in Maine after 20 years in North Carolina. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild. Find her at, and on Facebook at MyHouseHasHistory.
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