Depression is a serious issue and affects millions of people. The most common thinking today is that it is a disease, and is treated as such, usually with various kinds of drugs.
While not for a moment denying that SOME people MAY have a “medical” problem (just as some people suffer from epilepsy, brain trauma or the like) MOST people treated for “depression” fail to deal with the underlying causes; which usually means a sinful response to something unpleasant in their lives.
It’s OK to feel “bad” and sometimes, “bad” things happen to all of us. However, God’s commands do not apply just when we “feel” good. Doing what is “right” because it IS right, WILL bring His blessing. He will never leave or forsake us; we have a future and a hope; our feelings WILL change, if we trust Him.
Since God created man in His own image, and He experiences grief and sadness (the Father, Gen 6:6, the Son, Luke 19:41, Jn 11:35, The Spirit, Eph 4:30), therefore, we will experience grief and sadness as well (e.g. Psa 69:10, 137:1, etc.).
There is nothing inherently wrong with feeling “bad” as a result of grief or sadness; it can be an appropriate response to the curse of sin in the world. However, because of sin, every aspect of man’s nature has been effected, including his emotional response to situations.
“Depression” is a psychological/medical term referring to a significant lowering of one’s emotions or vitality accompanied by feelings of despair, hopelessness, futility, dejection or melancholia.
It is more than just grief or sadness, but a condition wherein a person fails to fulfill their duties to God and others, BECAUSE they feel “bad;” they are unable to function at work, sleep, enjoy the companionship of others, etc.
The root problem is the assumption that we MUST follow our feelings; therefore if we do not feel “good” that it somehow justifies not doing “good.”
This is the exact opposite of the Biblical paradigm; God says, to feel good, then we must do good (Gen 4:6 “…Why are you angry and why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up?”).
Medical Insight: Depression can be initiated by;
Biological cycles: human feelings are greatly influenced by different hormones. If something is “off “ with one’s hormones, then it can stimulate significant feelings of hopelessness and despair.
Neurotransmitter levels: there are chemicals that transmit signals from one nerve cell to another. Again, if a person’s body does not produce the right chemicals, in the right amounts, it can lead to strong feelings of listlessness, hopelessness, and despair.
Genetic factors; Some people are just “naturally” more “gloomy” or “melancholy” than others.
Life problems: sometimes, bad things happen, and it is perfectly “natural” and acceptable to feel bad when they do. The loss of a loved one to death, being laid off or fired from a job (or not being able to find one), being the victim of slander or gossip or a broken relationship, etc, all make us feel “bad.”
Depression however, is more than just “feeling bad” it is despair caused by sinful responses to difficulties (e.g., Psa 32:4, 51:3, 38:2-11,13,14,17,18, etc.).
When initial problems are met with sinful responses there is a spiraling effect:
- A sinful response causes guilt:
- Guilt lowers energy level and makes one’s responsibilities even harder to do
- Which in turn causes even more sinful responses as we fail to do what we should do
- Which in turn results in more true moral guilt…
- Which lowers our energy level even further…
- Which makes us even less motivated to do our duties…
- Which leads to more sinful responses…
Our responsibility as Christians is to respond to problems in a Biblical way to turn the spiraling process around.
Therefore we must learn to:
Do good if we want to feel good (Gen 4:6).
Confess our guilt and take God’s solution for sin (I Jn 1:9).
Take responsibility for those things under your control, and trust in the providence of God for those things which are not… (Col 3:17).
Schedule and discipline our lives (Hebs 12:11) in order to properly fulfill our duties to God and others
Stop brooding about hurts, injuries, failures from the past (Phil 4:6).
Develop a think list of God’s positive blessings and focus on what is good, right and holy, rather than disappointments, frustrations, hurts or insecurities Phil 4:8
Do not blame yourself for feeling bad, but rather rejoice in your acceptance by a holy, loving and sovereign God who is working ALL things for your good (1 Cor 8:1, 28)
Unless there is a medical problem, our feelings will eventually change as we do what is right; remember, attitudes follow actions!