Dealing with Depression

Dealing with Depression

What is depression? You may be depressed if you have one or more of the following symptoms:

Persistent sad or anxious mood

Anger, restlessness, irritability

Sleeplessness, or not enough sleep

Reduced appetite and weight loss, or increased appetite and weight gain

Loss of pleasure and interest in things once enjoyed

Persistent physical symptoms that don’t respond to treatment

Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions

Fatigue or loss of energy

Feeling guilty, hopeless or worthless

Thoughts of suicide or death.

 

Common causes of depression are:

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

Isolation/loneliness (nursing homes are full of such people)

Rejection

Physical, verbal, and/or sexual abuse

Chemical imbalance or hormonal changes

Substance abuse

Hospitalization for a chronic illness.

 

People don’t fake depression. They fake being okay. They put on a “mask”. Even vibrant, faith-filled believers come down with this awful “black heaviness inside”. The Bible’s pages are filled with fellow-strugglers who were believers – Jeremiah, Elijah, Paul and more. King David poured out his heart in Psalm after Psalm, describing his soul sinking into depression or despair. Psalm 42 is a good example. Notice the battle he is having between his faith and his depression.

Psalm 42 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, "Where is your God?" These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng. Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon--from Mount Mizar. Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. By day the LORD directs his love, at night his song is with me-- a prayer to the God of my life. I say to God my Rock, "Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?" My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, "Where is your God?" Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Yes, Christians get depressed. It is not a sign of spiritual maturity to walk around in public with a fake smile glued to your face. A genuine walk in Christ does not begin or continue in a lie; we walk in truth, by faith…even when we’re depressed! And when we are depressed like David, we can ask for prayer. We can go to God for grace to deal with depression.

Depression can be caused by stress, which relates to just about any kind of loss a human can suffer. Medications can induce depression. Certain types of blood pressure medication list “mood swings” as a possible side-effect. Substance abuse with legal drugs or illegal drugs create a “high” followed by a despondent “crash” as the drug wears off.

Whatever the source of depression, it causes symptomatic feelings and behaviors. Although I have already mentioned many symptoms, let’s look more closely at a few of them.

Expressionless voice: A person suffering from depression isn’t just bored. When you’ve lost interest in just about everything, it will show up in the way you speak.

Appetites disrupted: By the look of many of us, one could assume we have never suffered a moment’s depression. However, people in depression often eat despite the loss of appetite, because food becomes a “comfort”. Other appetites for normal activities such as sex, work, and recreation often diminish during times of depression. Many “couch potatoes” are depressed.

Emptiness: Depression sucks the desire to engage with life right out of our soul! Emptiness can also lead to thoughts of suicide. Jeremiah was empty. He suffered so much rejection he felt sorry he’d ever been born. Job suffered so much loss he also cursed the day of his birth. Another example is Elijah, the prophet, who sat under a juniper tree and didn’t want to eat, drink, or move. His plan was to sit there and die. Therefore, take it seriously when someone wishes they were dead.

Worthless: It is a deep, dark feeling that you don't matter, and nobody cares. You don’t even like yourself and feel unworthy of love. In this pit, it seems God can’t love you either. In this place, you are an easy target for Satan’s lies, but you don’t care, your life doesn’t matter.

Hopeless: The disciples felt hopeless. They thought life for them was over. Jesus was dead, and since they were part of His group, they would probably be hunted-down and killed too.

Usually, people try to deal with depression the wrong way. Their first reaction to the suggestion they are depressed might be, “I’m not depressed. I don’t get depressed!” The very idea of depression is for “other people”.

Some people try numb their depression. This takes the form of substance abuse, binge eating, or seeking after material things—shopping when you don’t need anything. None of these relieve depression. In fact, they deepen the depression because they cannot satisfy your need.

There are Biblical solutions for dealing with depression and they are often the last solutions that people try. That is unfortunate because depression is a spiritual problem. Spiritual problems require scriptural answers. The primary need humans have in overcoming depression is confession. Confess to God that you are depressed and ask Him to show you the reason for your depression.

I’ve have already mentioned several causes of depression, but sometimes the cause is sin. Sin grieves the Holy Spirit and generates guilt, which creates the feeling David expressed: Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?

David was an exceptional believer. As king of Israel, he loved God and was a just and wise ruler. Then he sinned greatly. He allowed his fleshly appetites to take over. He committed adultery and murder, but he justified his sin and tried to cover it up. As a result, the once integrity-driven king – a man after God’s own heart – became estranged from God and as depressed as a human can be. When finally confronted about his sins, David crumbled in confession. That began his healing. Listen to part of his confession:

Psalms 51:1-3 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.

Not all depression is caused by sin. However, most faulty solutions dealing with depression are steeped in denial that we have sinned. Confession of that denial is the beginning point of healing. We must acknowledge our need before we can move towards health.

Once we have admitted we are depressed and acknowledged the cause, then we must trust in Jesus for forgiveness and healing. Listen to what Jesus read from the Scroll in the temple at Nazareth, and then He announced that He came to fulfill this Scripture:

Isaiah 61:1-3 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion--to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.

After we acknowledge our depression and we confess any associated sin, we should trust the Lord to forgive our sin, to deliver us from depression, and to return to us the joy of our salvation and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. For those reasons, we should purposefully offer the Lord a sacrifice of praise.

It is indeed a sacrifice of praise, because when depressed, we don’t feel like praising God. It seems hypocritical. Our thoughts and feelings are so wrapped up in self, we see nothing praiseworthy, and we don’t want to worship God, whom we partially blame for our depression. But it is Satan who has brought upon us trouble, sin, and depression—not God.

That is why, worshipping God is the most important thing we can do to deal with depression. In worship, our minds are taken off ourselves and our problems as we focus on Jesus, our Savior and Deliverer. At the moment praise and worship begin, the chains of depression start to break.

Philippians 4:4-9 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me--put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Since depression affects our whole being (body, soul, and spirit), there are other things we can do to deal with depression. For example, diet, exercise, and rest are all necessary parts of taking care of ourselves. While there are physical benefits from these activities even for unbelievers, they are also part of God’s plan for a believer’s spiritual health.

Everyone needs someone for support. God said, when He created Adam, that it was not good for the man to be alone. However, a depressed person doesn’t want to bother anyone because he doesn’t feel worthy of support. Nevertheless, he should be encouraged to visit someone he trusts, and who can be objective. It could be a minister, a friend, or a professional counselor. There are Christian counselors who can help with techniques and practices that do not compromise our Christian values.

Family life and church-family are God designed to help us deal with depression. Being part of a loving family group is essential to finding wholeness. Most of the pictures we see, which are representative of depressed people, are pictures of persons alone!

Again, King David writes in Psalm 40:1-3 I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.

There are several lessons we can learn from these Scriptures to help us move from the slimy pit of depression to the pinnacle of praise.

1. Patiently wait on the Lord every morning during your devotions for the Holy Spirit to deliver you from emotional, mental, or relational pits. Waiting on the Lord requires daily discipline, but also the faith that God is greater than any problem, and He wants to use these down times to draw you closer to Himself through prayer, His Word, and the comfort of the Holy Spirit.

2. While you are waiting on the Lord, praise Him in advance for His power, His deliverance, and His plan to lift you. He always finds a way when there seems to be no way. He works in ways we cannot see. Praise Him with a simple song. Keep singing it to the Lord and soon you will feel the heaviness of depression lift.

3. Thank God for the way He has delivered His people in the past and know He will do the same for you. Not only will the Lord deliver you, but He will use you to help others as a result of your experience. Do not think that you have to be delivered from your situation instantly. God is using you in your situation to display His mighty power, grace, and glory. His grace is sufficient and His power is made perfect in your weakness.

We gain new understanding, wisdom, and maturity as a result of our pit experiences.

4. After waiting, praising, and thanking God, ask the Father to fill you with the Holy Spirit before you start your day. Then, by the power of the Holy Spirit, you will have strength to do your duties and to do something for others.

Focus on Christ, not self, and lift up others who are depressed. By the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, we are able to comfort others with the same comfort we receive from the Lord.

In summary, God will protect us and deliver us from depression if we will repent of sin, praise Him, and thank Him in all circumstances. Trust the Lord to help your entire life be a testimony of a journey from the pits of depression to the mountain tops of praise. Learn how to effectively please the Lord in every area of life, be filled with His Spirit, and bear fruit in every good work as you become more intimate with the Lord and His will for your life.

But right now, you may be in a time of utter despair. You are in a miry pit of depression and you don’t have the strength to do anything. You realize family, friends, and acquaintances cannot help you. However, you also realize that you cannot fix your problem on your own.

Whether you know it or not, you are in the best place you can be right now. You are in a place where you can to turn to Jesus, talk to Jesus, and trust in Jesus. It is only through Jesus that we can properly “Deal with Depression.” Let us pray with you this morning. If you can’t come forward for prayer on your own, ask someone to come with you. This place is full of people who will pray with you now, or privately if you prefer that. Whatever you do, don’t leave this morning without reaching out to Jesus. He is your Savior and Deliverer.

On the other hand, maybe you are here and you are not a child of God. If that is the case, you are in the worst position of all, but you are in a good place.

Today you can experience the greatest deliverance of all time. You can be saved from your sins and delivered from despair and an eternity in Hell.

You wonder, “How is that possible?”

Well, the answer is the same for you: turn to Jesus, talk to Jesus, and trust in Jesus. But first, you must believe Jesus atoned for your sin on the cross, rose again, proving He is the Son of God. If you believe that, I urge you to come forward to publicly profess your faith in Jesus’ salvation and deliverance. We will pray with you to have grace to repent, and to give your life to Jesus through baptism. Then you will be born again of the Spirit of God, making you a child of God.

Romans 10:13 "For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

And Acts 2:38 "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”