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Could Christians Get Depressed?
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“Being depressed is like wearing a pair of apocalyptic glasses. Everything seems bleak, futile, and pointless. The promises of God, which normally bring life and hope and sunshine, seem hollow. God himself feels distant and uncaring, like a distracted, removed father who cares more about other things or other people,” says Stephen Altrogge in his article entitled
3 Powerful Pieces Of Encouragement For The Depressed Christian
The World Health Organization offers these
facts about depression
·Depression is a common mental disorder. Globally, more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression.
·Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease.
·More women are affected by depression than men.
·At its worst, depression can lead to suicide.
·There are effective psychological and pharmacological treatments for depression.
Broadly, there are
two types of depression
, according to an article in
We'll start by saying there's more than one way to define "depressed." The American Heritage Dictionary begins with these two definitions:
1. Low in spirits; dejected. 2. Suffering from psychological depression.
Almost everyone experiences the first definition at some time. We all get sad or have "the blues" on occasion. Whether you're bummed about your favorite NFL team losing last Sunday, or bombing on a test, or a rift in a relationship, it might help to know that most people have those feelings at some time or another.
If you're experiencing that type of depression, take comfort in knowing that it will likely pass in a relatively short time. In the meantime, keep going to church, praying and reading your Bible (the Psalms can be especially helpful). Do fun things with friends and family; don't spend too much time brooding alone in your bedroom. And talk to someone you trust—a parent, a teacher, a coach, a youth leader, a pastor.
But what if you're experiencing "psychological depression," the second definition? Certainly, you should be doing the things recommended in the last paragraph. But if you have psychological depression—also known as "clinical depression"—you should see a professional, because this type of depression is a very real illness, just as real as cancer or the common cold.
As you continue reading this, that's our working definition of "depression." We're referring to psychological or clinical depression.
Clinical depression is often caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. It's not "just in your mind."
Depression is usually treatable with a combination of medicine and counseling. Unfortunately, less than half of depressed people actually seek treatment. According to the NMHA, people resist treatment "because they believe depression isn't serious, that they can treat it themselves, or that it is a personal weakness rather than a serious medical illness."
Why do we get depressed?
The same article from
describes the causes for depression:
Any one or a combination of things can trigger depression, including:
·Death or serious illness of a friend or family member
·Loss of love or attention from a friend or family member
·Breakup of a romantic relationship
·Family problems, especially parents' divorce
·Rejection or teasing
·Physical, verbal, and/or sexual abuse
·Genetic vulnerability, particularly if a parent is/was depressed
·Hormonal changes, including PMS
·Hospitalization, especially for a chronic illness
Some people are more likely to get depressed than others, because of a chemical imbalance or other factors. Meanwhile, others may never get clinically depressed. The bottom line: The chances of getting depressed vary significantly from person to person.
What are the symptoms of clinical depression?
Mental Health America
describes the symptoms of clinical depression:
Ø Persistent sad, anxious or "empty" mood
Ø Sleeping too much or too little, middle of the night or early morning waking
Ø Reduced appetite and weight loss, or increased appetite and weight gain
Ø Loss of pleasure and interest in activities once enjoyed, including sex
Ø Restlessness, irritability
Ø Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment (such as chronic pain or digestive disorders)
Ø Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
Ø Fatigue or loss of energy
Ø Feeling guilty, hopeless or worthless
Ø Thoughts of suicide or death
Another article on depression authored by Stephen Altrogge provides
eleven Bible verses for depression
May these give you hope and strength as you wait for God to lead you out of the Valley of Darkness.
1. Deuteronomy 31:8 -- God Will Never Leave You
2. Isaiah 41:10 -- God Will Strengthen You and Uphold You
3. Psalm 40:1-3 -- God Hears Your Cry
4. Psalm 3:3 -- The Lord Is Your Shield
5. Psalm 34:18-19 -- God Is Near To The Brokenhearted
6. Isaiah 40:31 -- The Lord Will Renew Your Strength
7. Isaiah 42:3 -- A Bruised Reed He Will Not Break
8. Matthew 11:28-30 -- Come All Who Labor and Are Heavy Laden
9. Romans 8:38-39 -- Nothing Can Separate You From God
10. Psalm 34:17 -- The Lord Hears Your Cry
11. Psalm 42:11 – Hope in God
Christians be depressed? Yes and why not? Do not believe anyone who argues that Christians cannot be depressed. Saul, Job, David, Jeremiah, and Judas Iscariot were depressed!
The article from
depression among Christians
For Christians, depression can carry extra baggage—in the form of guilt or shame. Since Jesus promises abundant life, Christians often assume there's a spiritual problem if they're depressed. Other well-meaning believers don't necessarily help by saying things like, "Have you completely submitted to God?" or "Do you have any unconfessed sin?"
One reader wrote, "The worst was well-meaning people who told me to 'just get over it' or 'rejoice for this is the day the Lord has made.' This made me feel ashamed of my depression because I felt that I was dishonoring God, but I could not just shake it off. Its grip on my life was strong."
While spiritual problems—like habitual or unconfessed sin, lack of faith, or, in rare cases, demonic attack—certainly can trigger depression, those things are often the result of depression, not the cause. Depressed Christians certainly should continue praying, reading the Bible, confessing sin and pursuing holiness, but unless God or a professional Christian counselor says otherwise, don't assume the depression is caused by a spiritual problem. That type of thinking can keep a depressed Christian from seeking the professional help—counseling, medication, or both—they need.
Again, we want to say that while spiritual issues can contribute to depression, they're usually a result, not a cause. If you think your depression or emotional struggles have spiritual roots, talk to your pastor, youth pastor or a Christian counselor.
What cures depression?
Stephen Altrogge cites Chris Cipollone’s new book
Down Not Out
encouragements for a depressed Christian
. Here’s an excerpt:
Recognize That Your Feelings Are Just That: Feelings are pathological liars. Very rarely do they speak the truth about reality…One of THE most important things I’ve learned to do when I’m depressed is to recognize that what I’m feeling probably isn’t true. The truth is outside of me, located in the sacred pages of scripture.
When I’m in the grip of depression or anxiety, I have to, in a sense, detach my brain from emotions. I have to fall back on what I know to be true even though none of those things feel true.
Chris puts it this way: When it comes to mental illness, our feelings can be very misleading. I say this because a change in how we feel about God can be one of the main manifestations of depression or anxiety. This can be very distressing for a Christian, yet how we feel about God does not impact who he actually is.
We may feel angry about our circumstances, which leads to the thought that God hates us. He doesn’t.
We may feel lonely, which leads to the thought that God has abandoned us. He hasn’t.
We may feel hopeless, which leads to the thought that there is nothing left to live for. There is.
If you find yourself in a dark cloud, it’s not a good time to evaluate the state of your life, your relationship with God, or what tomorrow will be like. Frankly, that will probably sink you even further into darkness.
Rather, you need to dramatically simplify your thinking. Cling to the simple truths of scripture, even if they feel empty. Often, I’ll pray simple prayers like, “Father, I know you love me and are going to get me through this.” I don’t let my mind dwell on whether I’m being a good dad or if I’m reading the Bible enough.
Then I turn my attention elsewhere, often to something quite mindless like a show on Netflix. I know that I can answer all the big questions of life when God brings me to a better place. Until then, I’m going to keep my thinking childlike (in the biblical sense).
Find A Faithful Friend: …
If you’re a depressed Christian, try to find one person who can be a lifeline for you. Yes, it can be challenging to find someone like this, but you need to. You can’t be a lone ranger when it comes to navigating the dark and choppy waters.
Fall Back On Jesus:
When you’re stumbling through the dark, it usually feels like God has abandoned you. This can be an utterly terrifying experience, especially the first time you experience it.
But Jesus has you in a grip much stronger than your grip on him. Though it may feel like all is lost, it’s not. He has you, is holding you, and will sustain you as you travail through the screaming void.
Chris puts it this way: “Paul does not say that we’re immune from trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger or sword. What he does say is that in the midst of all these things, we cannot be separated from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. God’s love for his people is guaranteed.”
There will be times when the most you can do is say, “Help me, Jesus.”
He will indeed help you. You probably won’t feel his help, but he’s there, holding you, guiding you, and shepherding you to green pastures. You may not be able to hold onto him, but he has you in his omnipotent grip that nothing, including your depression, can break.
Honestly, you’re much weaker than you feel. The good news is that he’s much stronger than you can imagine.
The End of Depression
: There will come a time when your depression and anxiety will be fully and finally gone. When Christ returns, tears will be dried, brokenness will be healed, and mental illness will be banished, never to return.
Until that day, you can rest in the simple, lovely truths God has declared over you: you are loved, you are held, and you will be sustained until the end.
https://www.christianitytoday.com/iyf/hottopics/selfesteem/understanding-depression.html?start=2 & https://www.christianitytoday.com/iyf/hottopics/selfesteem/understanding-depression.html?start=3
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02 Jan 2019
Excellent article Raj. Thanks for posting it. I am going to forward it to a couple of people. Blessings to you for a great New Year in Christ. Michael
02 Jan 2019
In a word: Wonderful!
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