Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Christians, Take Depression Seriously

O My Soul:

I ran across this post and thought I would share it with you here.

It gives a rather balanced view of the sources of depression, but also addresses the need for Christians to take depression seriously.

Why do we Christians think we are impervious to depression?  Please leave your insights in the comment area to share with me and others.

In the meantime, here is the article linked above:

Depression can be a crippling illness. It strikes most of us at one time or another. Most of us suffer from situational depression, but some of us experience serious clinicaldepression. What comfort and help can we get from the Bible?

Sometimes, depression is a spiritual condition. We humans are made up of a body, a mind and a spirit and depression can attack all three of our essential beings. Gaining relief from depression in our spirit often helps relieve our emotional depression.

The spirit is much like the body in that it requires food to live. We feed our bodies nutritious things to keep it well and sometimes we feed it junk that can make us sick. It’s like this for the soul, too. We sometimes feed it
 good food that encourages it and uplifts it. Other times we feed it junk that can lead to depression.

Spiritual causes of depression can include difficult circumstances, mourning, sickness, sorrow, anxiety and fear. Identifying and dealing with possible spiritual causes can be very healing in two ways; we address the underlying issues causing depression and we deepen our relationship with God.

Difficult circumstances can drain our emotional and spiritual strength, causing or aggravating depression. Circumstantial challenges are sometimes tests of faith or the result of sin or disobedience. Other times, things are difficult just because they are difficult. Whatever the reason for the challenges, Christians always have a loving Father willing to help. As difficult as it is while depressed, we must keep our eyes focused on God. He is the answer for all of our challenges. “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4:6)

If disobedience is a factor in your depression, it’s very important to confront it and change your behavior if you wish to get well. Disobedience that is ignored or rationalized will blossom into despair. Disobedience is spiritual junk food and must be gotten rid of if the spirit is to heal.
Mourning is certainly a cause of depression. Grief can sometimes be overwhelming. The loss of a loved one tosses us from emotion to emotion like a leaf on the wind, keeping us in a state of internal upheaval for some time. Grief seeps into our spirit, numbing it and dulling our communication with the Holy Spirit within us. When this happens, we have a difficult time hearing the promises of God because we are so wrapped up in psychic pain. While mourning, we need God the most. We must, by an act of our will, keep His Word before us. Daily devotions help, even if they are done out of habit, our soul is fed and a slow recovery begins. Readings from Isaiah and the Psalms are particularly helpful for those in grief. “Therefore the redeemed of the LORD shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.” (Isaiah 51:11)

Physical illness can sap energy from our spirit, too. Illness brings with it all sorts of spiritual challenges, not the least of which is doubt. If the illness is quite serious or prolonged, spiritual depression will probably result. When dealing with depression that is the result of illness, it’s important to keep feeding our spirits with the Word of God focusing on verses that promise His care and constant presence. Sickness can be difficult to cope with emotionally and spiritually but God does care and that information is what we must feed our souls.

Sorrow for things we have done can lead to spiritual depression. We all have regrets about things we’ve done, hurting others, lying, cheating, and not doing our best. The best thing we can do is make up for what we can make up for and turn all of our regrets over to God. All sin leaves a scar on someone. Whether the one scarred is you or someone else, ask God for His forgiveness and healing. Carrying around regrets for things that have been forgiven is counterproductive and can aggravate depression. If you have done what you can to correct the mistake and have asked forgiveness, then you must also accept forgiveness and leave the regret behind.

Sometimes, we think that we are paying penance by carrying the regret with us, but we’re not. Remember, there is nothing that we can do to earn forgiveness, it’s God’s free gift to us. Holding on to regrets starves the spirit of the food of forgiveness.

Anxiety and fear are often big elements of depression. Worry over circumstances, nervousness about the future, and fears of all kinds can eat away at our confidence and sense of security. Spiritually, these things put up barriers between us and God, preventing open and honest communication. Christians accurately define fear as a lack of faith. We need faith food to drive out fear. Reading the Word of God and associating with strong, mature Christians builds faith. If you’re experiencing overwhelming fears andanxieties that are depressing you, consult with your pastor or a mature Christian friend for guidance. Remember that “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. “ (1 John 4:18a)

When depressed it is critical to focus on hope. There is all hope with God, He is with us always, concerned with our living, concerned with our feelings and health. He is our hope. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.” (Psalms 42:11) Even if it takes every ounce of energy, we must feed our souls with hope if we wish to overcome depression. Depression quickly lapses into despair so we have an obligation to ourselves and to God to focus on hope. As long as there is breath in the body, there is hope.

God is faithful to us. Even in deep depression, He is with us, loving us and working things for our good. This is what we must focus on. We have to keep our eyes off of the world and the things that would try to starve our spirits and stay focused on God’s love for us. “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39)

...and again, why do Christians think depression is not real?

Hope in Christ &
God be with you,


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