What should a Christian do if
overwhelmed with depression?
Depression has been called the "common cold" of mental disorders, and it disrupts the lives of millions of people, Christian or not.
Depression is too complicated to solve with a single pat answer. There are many causes for depression, and many approaches to treating it. In addition, people use the word "depression" to cover everything from disappointment over losing a baseball game to the terrifying gloom that drives people to suicide.
The Bible does not use the word "depression," although it describes people whom we might call depressed. It certainly doesn't mention antidepressant drugs. However, there are a few general principles I would recommend when trying to deal with depression........
Aim to work on the causes of your depression, not just the symptoms.
Major causes of depression include:
(1) Biological factors....depression often has a physical basis. At the simplest level, we know that lack of sleep, insufficient exercise, the side effects of drugs, physical illnesses, or improper diet can all creation depression. Thousands of women experience depression as part of a monthly premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and some are victimized by postpartum depression following childbirth. Other physical influences, like neurochemical malfunctioning, brain tumors, or glandular disorders, are more complicated creators of depression. There is evidence that depression runs in families and may have a genetic basis
(2) Learned helplessness ......(sense of being trapped and unable to remedy an intolerable situation....FEAR!)
(3) Parental rejection
(5) Negative thinking
(6) Life stress
Scripture points to many issues of sin or conflict that can affect your emotions. Most counselors would agree that depression can result from other underlying issues. Don't just worry about the depression itself, check to see what other problems need attention.
Realize that you can't base life on your emotions
Christians base life on truth, not feelings. Philippians 4:1 commands us to rejoice (whether we feel like it or not!). And James 1:2 asks us to "Consider it all joy when we fall into various trials." Notice that James doesn't tell us to feel joyful; he tells us to reckon, to choose to think about your situation as a spot where you can have joy.
Choosing to trust truth rather than your feelings may require a lot of faith. And if that is what we mean by asking if faith can solve depression, then faith may be enough in some cases. Trusting what God says rather than your feelings is certainly a more realistic approach to life!
Heed God's Advice
However, many people talk about "faith" and only mean a vague hope that God will somehow pull them through. That's too nebulous a concept to be reliable. Many of the same people who claim to have faith keep plunging through life ignoring God's principles for healthy living. If we spurn the good advice that the Bible contains, we won't escape the consequences - even if we have faith.
Is it right to use antidepressant drugs? Or is faith enough to solve the problem?
Some cases of depression may be caused by chemical imbalances. If that is the case, then antidepressant drugs may be part of the answer. God has allowed mankind to discover many medical tools, and it would be foolish to not use those tools when available. There may be some instances of depression so severe that medication is necessary to bring the sufferer to the place where they can tackle some of the other issues. I know of no Scripture that forbids the use of medications.
Unresolved Issues, Root Causes
However, any medications should be used with caution. Virtually any medicine has some side effects. Drugs can mask the symptoms, allowing you to ignore root causes. Some people may use antidepressants to avoid approaches that require you to deal with other unresolved issues. It seems easier to pop a pill. A general rule of thumb is to try other strategies first, unless the depression is so severe that the person endangers themselves or finds themselves unable to participate in other therapies.
Depression is a complex area, and severe cases of depression deserve Medical and Spiritual expertise.
Helpful tips for depression
Avoid being alone. Force yourself to be with people.
Force yourself to get out, even if it's just to go and sit in the local park for
Force yourself to get out, even if it's just to go and sit in the local park for a while.
Seek and accept help.
Confess any known wrongs, past or present, to God. Ask Him to show you areas of your life that need to be put right with Him and others, and as He brings them to your attention, be sure to in fact, put them right.
Praise and give thanks. "In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Force yourself to do it even if you don't feel like it.
Lean heavily on the power of God's Word. Claim His promises of help and deliverance, be patient, and expect to see results from your faith. Recognize that Satan too may be playing a part in your illness. Use God's word to counteract that possibility also........ (James 4:7 Ephesians 6:11-13)
Rest confidently in the presence of God's Spirit. "Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance" (Psalm 42:5).