Is a sense of hopelessness squeezing the life out of you? Is there any hope to ever overcome depression? If you or somebody you know is dealing with depression, you're about to discover solutions!
What does depression feel like?
Debbie groaned as the sunlight peeked through the cracks of the blinds. Another day already? She pulled the covers over her head and tried to go back to sleep.
She could hear the kids watching cartoons in the living room and she began to cry. She asked herself, “Why am I so sad? Why can’t I pull myself together. Why don’t I want to get out of bed?”
She wished her kids were old enough to feed themselves and get to school on their own. Why did her husband have to leave so early and not help with the kids?
Debbie was tired. She had just slept for 11 hours but did not feel rested.
Debbie was angry. Her husband was working 3 part time jobs to keep food on the table and was never home anymore. They needed more money, but she only wanted more of him.
Debbie knew she had to get up and take care of the kids, but she had no motivation to do so. Instead, she started to wonder why she ever had kids. Why did they take so much work to care for? All she wanted was to go back to sleep and forget all her problems.
She knew her thoughts were selfish. She knew her anger was wrong. She was feeling sad, frustrated and hopeless but didn’t know why. Every day she asked herself the same question, “Why am I depressed?”
She wasn't sure how it sneaked up on her, but a sense of hopelessness had gripped her heart and was squeezing the life out of her.
Are you suffering like Debbie? Do you know if you are just discouraged, or are you asking, “Do I have depression?”
There are times when we all feel tired, sad, angry and unmotivated but when we continue in that mindset too long it affects our behavior. We move from “discouraged” to “depressed.”
WHAT IS DEPRESSION?
The Mayo Clinic defines depression as: a mental health disorder characterized by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily life.
Discouragement is not the same as depression. Most everyone experiences times in life that are very difficult and emotionally and physically draining, but they do not persist for extended periods of time.
Most people who suffer persistent depression feel life is not worth living. They have no joy, no peace, and no hope of ever having them.
Their hopelessness is their closest companion and greatest enemy.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION?
Absence of interest or pleasure in normal daily life.
WHAT CAUSES DEPRESSION?
According to WebMd.com, the main causes of depression are
Abuse. Past physical, sexual, or emotional abuse can increase the vulnerability to clinical depression later in life.
Certain medications. Some drugs, such as isotretinoin (used to treat acne), the antiviral drug interferon-alpha, and corticosteroids, can increase your risk of depression.
Conflict. Depression may result from personal conflicts or disputes with family members or friends.
Death or a loss. Sadness or grief from the death or loss of a loved one, though natural, may increase the risk of depression.
Major events. Even good events such as starting a new job, graduating, or getting married can lead to depression. So can moving, losing a job or income, getting divorced, or retiring. However, the syndrome of clinical depression is "abnormal" response to stressful life events.
Other personal problems. Problems such as social isolation due to other illnesses or being cast out of a family or social group can contribute to the risk of developing clinical depression.
Serious illnesses. Sometimes depression co-exists with a major illness or may be triggered by another medical condition.
Substance abuse. Nearly 30% of people with substance abuse problems also have major or clinical depression.
With the exception of illness, medications and substance abuse, these causes are all external, things that have happened outside the cellular, biological body.
According the Bible, with the exception of drug use, these are things that everyone suffers from in one degree or another.
1 Corinthians 10:13
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
DEPRESSION OR SADNESS? WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?
Many people who are depressed claim they are not sad, but more like numb or empty. They say it is an absence of feelings.
It is definitely an absence of joy and sense of purpose. No matter how you label it, it is an emotion of some sort, not just an absence of all feelings.
Emotions are not something you "do," they're something you "feel," which is why we call them "feelings."
Sadness is an emotion, a "feeling." Not all depressed people say they feel nothing. Many just have a hard time defining what they are feeling if it's not sadness.
Many feelings are involuntary. For example, people don't decide to feel sorrow when a loved one dies. It is something that overcomes them in response to their loss. It is natural and part of the human experience.
The Bible doesn't tell you to "feel" happy instead of sad, but it does say you must "do" (or not do) something, like be angry but "do not" sin. Anger is a natural response to something, but how you respond when angry determines whether or not you sinned.
Depression can also be a response to feelings. When a person responds to something they feel, they are "doing" something.
Usually when a woman is overtaken by depression it’s because she is not seeking God’s way of handling her problems. She is filled with self-pity.
This is not a feeling, it is a "doing." She is dwelling on thoughts. She rehearses over and over again in her mind, all the reasons her life is meaningless, worthless and hopeless.
So she is "thinking" not "feeling." She is dwelling on negative thoughts.
This person views life without any involvement of God. If she believes in God, she does not think that God cares for her, or has the power or desire to help her. Her problem is rooted in either unbelief or false beliefs about God, or wrong thinking about her circumstances.
So if there are no known medical or physical conditions causing the depression, it is most likely wrong thinking in her responses to the external events of her life.
It is often the case that the woman experiencing depression views her life as something "happening" to her, (similar to feelings) instead of something she does.
She adopts a "victim" mentality and her behavior becomes passive. She stops battling depression and gives in to it. She doesn’t have any desire to take action but instead, submits herself to quiet desperation and isolation.
This person wrongly blames somebody, or something else, for the reason she feels and behaves the way she does. Involuntary feelings "happen" to everyone and it is not sinful to feel sad or whatever feelings are being experienced.
Whatever external circumstances "happen" to you may not be the cause of sin. But wrong thinking and behavior in response to feelings about what happens, is sin.
“For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.”
“Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.”
It’s the heart, not feelings or circumstances, that needs to be changed. How do you that? How do you treat the heart of a depressed person?
WHAT ARE THE TREATMENTS FOR DEPRESSION?
Some people with severe depression do have pathological problems that need medical treatment. But too often depression is seen as a medical problem and antidepressant medication is prescribed, even without testing, or testing but finding nothing wrong.
Antidepressants can create physical and emotional dependency that can lead to even more problems. Using chemicals to alter a person's frame of mind does not address the real problem.
You might alter the chemistry in a person's body, but humans are made in the image of God. They are made up of far more than biological cells.
In some cases, drugs are no more effective than the shock treatments used decades ago as the preferred method of treatment for depressed people. The electric shock would erase parts of their memory, but it did nothing to change their heart or their circumstances.
Definitely visit your doctor and make sure there are no organic problems in the body, but be careful not to agree to drug treatments if no pathological problems exist. If there are none, it’s time to do some soul searching.
Because God is Spirit, without a body, but yet experiences emotions, (although not involuntarily) it's not certain that depression is associated only with the physical self, the biological body.
It might be more accurate to say that emotions are linked to the spirit, not the body. Therefore, you should take a spiritual approach to treatment. And as stated above, many of your responses to feelings are sinful.
If depression is sinful, it's actually good news!
It means you don't have a problem that can't be fixed. You don't have to stay depressed, or take drugs for the rest of your life.
The gospel is the solution to the sin problem.
Christians have hope in this world because they have the indwelling Holy Spirit to empower them to fight and conquer sin.
HOW TO FIGHT DEPRESSION
IDENTIFY ITS SOURCE
The first step to treat depression as a spiritual problem, is to identify when you first experienced depression.
- When did you start feeling this way?
- Were there any events that triggered your feelings and behavior?
- What did you want that you did not get?
If you take time to search your heart, you'll probably recognize there were unmet desires and expectations that set you off.
Make a list of them, all that you can think of. Take this step seriously and invest however much time is needed to dig to the root of the problem.
IDENTIFY YOUR RESPONSE
The second step to treat depression is to identify your responses to feelings and circumstances. Track your thoughts, attitudes and desires.
We live in a cursed world among fallen people. We want peace, comfort and ease, but instead we see violence, pain and difficulty. There will always be disappointment and discouragement in this world.
Acknowledging that this world is filled with sin is the first step towards having realistic expectations.
Without a true view of reality, you will experience the consequences of unmet expectations. This will quickly lead to emotions that will hinder faith and obedience, starting with a loss of joy. After that, the discontent you feel will snowball into anger, frustration, sorrow, etc.
It's like feeding a monster that is never satisfied! It always requires more and the more you feed it, the more it demands from you. Feeding the emotions monster leads you in a downward spiral. You only grow more depressed!
When you allow feelings to master you and choose not to do what is required of you because you don't "feel" like it, you are sinning.
You are not responsible for the sins of others. Nor can you control the events of your world. You must focus only on your own responsibilities, your responses to other people's sins against you, your physical limitations, your circumstances, etc.
You can’t control others or all of your circumstances, but you can learn what God expects from you in every situation you face in life. It’s very helpful to make a list of Bible passages that speak to your problems, and keep it nearby so you can refer to it often.
Search your heart and ask and honestly answer these questions:
Are you blaming others for circumstances that come from your lack of fulfilling your own responsibilities? Who are you blaming?
Are you blaming God for not protecting you from others, or not providing what you think He should?
Are you doubting that God has the ability and desire to help you through this difficult trial?
What do you fear? What things are you worried about?
Who are you looking to for provision, safety, comfort, or escape?
What do you see as your rights, or things are you entitled to?
What do you think about most often?
What do you talk about most?
What do you pray for most often?
How do you spend most of your time?
What are the “If only…..” statements you would make about your life? (Example: If only I hadn’t married Joe, my life would be so much better.)
After making a list of answers to these questions, the next step is to compare your responses to scripture.
What does the Bible say about your responsibilities?
What does the Bible say God will do for you or provide for you?
What does the Bible say about God’s power, love and goodness?
What or who does the Bible say you should fear?
Who does the Bible say is your provider, protector, etc.?
What rights does the Bible say you have?
What does the Bible say you should think about?
What does the Bible say about your time?
What does the Bible say about your life circumstances, where you were born, who your parents were, what country you live in, what things happened to you, etc.?
The third step to treat depression is to confess and repent of any known sin.
1 John 1:9
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
Regaining a sense of hope requires confessing your unbelief and wrong thinking, as well as your disobedience in how you respond to others and external events.
Confess means to say the same thing, to agree with God that your ways are wrong and His are right. The Father/child relationship is restored and is essential to your spiritual health. This alone will begin to lift the fog and renew your hope!
When you are in a trusting relationship with God, you sense His Spirit comforting you and enabling you to react to your circumstances in faith and obedience. He uses His word to transform your heart so you are no longer looking inward and recognizing your helplessness, but looking upward and seeing His all-sufficient power to help those who believe.
Then repent, which means to change the mind. You must change your thought patterns. You must continually “Put OFF” the thoughts that are wrong and “Put ON” proper thoughts about God and life. You replace the negative thoughts with positive truths.
As you do this, you are changed and the way you deal with life is changed. Changed for the better, so you can live up to the fullest potential God has for you in this world!
Click the button below, then enter your name and email to download the Free Worksheet for this article. It includes a “Put Off-Put On” Chart in the FREE GUIDE: “Coping With Depression Through Scripture” - A List of Bible Verses And Tips To Help You Overcome Depression.
HOW ARE YOU COPING WITH DEPRESSION?
I see ads on the Internet all the time for “The Top Ten Coping Skills for Depression.” Coping means to deal effectively with something difficult.
How would you define "effective"? Just getting by? Surviving one more day?
What if instead "effective" meant overcoming? That's how the Bible defines effective living!
And what if you only had to learn one way, instead of ten?
1 John 5:4
"For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith."
Depression is usually a problem of unbelief or weak faith. But growing in faith is possible.
The way out of depression is to be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Track your thoughts and as you learn what God says about your wrong attitudes, list them in a chart of what to “put off” and as you discover what the Bible says you should do instead, list it in a chart of what to “put on”.
Notice please that this requires "doing!" Doing is much harder than feeling. It will require action!
Keep studying, and adding to the chart. It will change your life perspective from depressing to blessing.
THE DEPRESSION HOTLINE IS OPEN 24/7
As you study God's word, pray for God to reveal His truth to your heart so you can overcome depression and start having thoughts and behaviors that honor Him and restore the joy of your salvation.
"For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart."
Prayer is an essential practice for every Christian. God is concerned about your feelings, body, circumstances and problems. He commands you to pray because He answers prayer. He will help you understand the truths in the Bible and as you believe and obey them, you will be conformed to the image of Jesus.
Your beliefs affect your behavior.
As you start believing the truth God reveals, your behavior will follow.
- When you stop blaming others for your problems you will start fulfilling your responsibilities.
- When you start trusting in the goodness of God, you’ll stop worrying about the problems in the world.
- When you start thinking thoughts that are based on what is true and noble, you’ll stop obsessing about the difficult circumstances, and your heart will rejoice.
Don’t expect this transformation to happen overnight.
You spent a long time developing sinful thought habits and they won’t likely be overcome in one study session of the Bible.
But don’t stop...NEVER STOP...you will see progress...you will be transformed.
Depression is a serious condition that should not be ignored.
First see a doctor and make sure you do not have any medical conditions that may be affecting your ability to think properly. Then apply biblical methods to overcome depression.
- Depression is a state of mind that negatively affects a person’s thoughts, behaviors and life.
- Depression is caused by inappropriate responses to life.
- Depression can be treated biblically:
- Dig into the heart, identify when the thought patterns first took root.
- Renew the mind by putting off wrong thoughts and putting on truthful thoughts.
- Confess and repent of wrong thoughts and behaviors.
ARE YOU DEALING WITH DEPRESSION GOD'S WAY?
If you are struggling with depression, do not isolate yourself.
You need the loving help of others who can come alongside you and walk with you through the difficult days, pray for you, and help you see the truth about yourself and your approach to life.
Most depressed people feel an overwhelming sense of loneliness and it's often their own fault because they isolate themselves.
God doesn’t want you to carry your burdens alone. One of the ways He helps is through providing other believers to invest in your life. Confide in a trusted friend or spiritual mentor and ask them to help you.
Disappointment, discouragement and disheartenment are facts of life in a fallen world.
How you deal with them determines your success in life.
You don't have to let depression squeeze the life out of you.
You can escape it's death grip.
Don't make your life harder than it needs to be.
Go to the ultimate source of infinite hope and take all you need.
Don’t leave this page until you grab my FREE GUIDE: “Coping With Depression Through Scripture” A List of Bible Verses and Tips to Help You Overcome Depression!
OVERCOMING DEPRESSION IS POSSIBLE!
Finally, The Long-Term Solution For Depression
Discover God's Method For
Healing A Heavy Heart!
It's time to break free from the pain and get back to a healthy and meaningful life.
"Coping With Depression Through Scripture"
A List of Bible Verses and Tips To Overcome Depression