Talking About Depression as a Christian
Christianity and depression don’t have the best history. In fairness, much of the world has taken a while in warming up to the reality and severity of depression.
“They’re just sad,” some might say. Everyone gets sad sometimes, right?
But depression runs deeper than a moment or an emotion. It comes on without cause, and it lingers far beyond when it should. Its presence is suffocating, and its impact on a person’s life can be catastrophic. If anyone, Christian or otherwise, is suffering from depression, they need to be able to address it, talk about it, and seek help for it.
The harsh reality of depression.
Depression is commonly associated with sadness. While sadness and sorrow are certainly symptoms of depression, there are key differences between being depressed and being sad.
Sadness is a normal human reaction to experiences. Someone hurts you. You fail. A family member passes away. These cause sadness. It seems natural. There’s a cause and an effect. Give it some time and/or change your perspective on the situation, and the sadness passes.
Depression, on the other hand, is a state of being that extends beyond our emotions, affecting our behaviors and perceptions. While certain events can trigger depression, it doesn’t have to be caused by anything.
Even if something does trigger depression, that event may not be the root cause.
Depression doesn’t just make you sad, but it leaves unable to happy or hopeful. It extends beyond reason. A person with depression can’t simply choose to be happy. Modern research has shown that depression is biological, stemming from chemical imbalances in the brain.
Being depressed as a Christian.
It can be difficult for anyone with depression to talk about it. Especially if they’re a Christian.
You get insecure, worrying that you may sound like doubting God or your faith. Fellow Christians will likely throw a cliché verse or two your way. They mean well, but it makes it often just makes things worse.
You’re left feeling guilty, which of course is a common symptom of depression.
How is the joy of the Lord supposed to be our strength when you’re crippled with sorrow?
Are you really filled with the fullness of God if you feel empty inside?
But when you read the Bible, it becomes quickly apparent that it’s not all joy and happiness. Often, it’s about following God even when your spirit is broken. The books of Jerimiah and Lamentations show a prophet of God who struggled with pain and sorrow most of his life.
David expresses depression-like thoughts throughout the Old Testament, particularly in Psalms:
“My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear.”
Even Jesus battled sorrow and uncertainty as he prayed in the Garden.
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
But there is an important pattern to be seen in the Godly men and women of the Bible. Even when their sorrow didn’t lift, and their prayers felt like they were in vein, their faith endured.
They continued on God’s path, holding to His promises and knowing that He was near, even in the darkness.
Signs of depression.
There are many signs of depression. Some may experience a few of these symptoms. Others might bear all of them. The most common is a near-continuous sadness, irritability, and/or anxiety, regardless of what’s going on around you.
You’ll likely experience a loss of pleasure from things that once made you happy. You may find yourself lacking the energy or will to do anything. This leaves you feeling worthless and guilty about your lack of action.
Unexplained changes in weight and appetite can vary from person to person. Some may find themselves unable to eat. Others may eat relentlessly in an attempt to feel more content or satisfied.
Death is often on the mind of those who are depressed. Even if you’re not suicidal, you may welcome the idea of everything coming to an end.
Getting help for depression.
If you’re a Christian who is battling with depression, seek council. Don’t be afraid to talk about it with others. Yes, you should pray about it, and seek God’s direction, but you don’t have to do it alone. A Christian counselor or psychologist can help you understand it and with time and effort, learn how to overcome it.
Get help today. Find a Christian counselor on Torrch that specializes in depression.