All over the world and in every society, people of differing ages and walks of life battle depression. Depression is real. Depression is bad. Depression has negative effects on all who have it and those who rub shoulders with them. Depression has been an emotion that people have struggled with for various reasons since the beginning of time. No one really desires to be depressed but sometimes cannot stop the circumstances, thought patterns, or emotions that lead down the path to depression. As is noticed in Psalm 42:11, the author of this Psalm, who many believe to be none other than King David himself, battled with depression. He addresses his soul through his self talk in his private world in his mind and says, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul?” This is important for all of us to be able to do. We must be able to identify depression: the signs, the struggles, and the solutions.
Today we use phrases like: “I am just down in the dumps,” “Why does it always seem like a cloud is hanging over my head,” “I am never getting over this,” “Every time people ask me if I am okay, it’s a reminder that I am not,” etc. These statements and thoughts are just sort of wandering around the issue of depression without really coming out and saying, “I am depressed, and it hurts. I don’t know exactly how or why it hurts, it just does.” Typically, this is a sign of depression. Depression and anxiety are real and affect all of us to a degree. The long term signs of depression start to become evident after 2 weeks or more of the same low mood and other depression symptoms that keep lasting. “Why can’t I get out of this funk that I am in?” Many times the signs of depression hide under the surface while we just keep dealing with the symptoms. Feelings of being sad, hopeless, helpless, worthless, guilt, anxiety, fatigue and low energy can all be some of the signs that a person is struggling with depression. An acute sign of depression is a loss of interest in living that can result in thoughts of death or suicide, and even attempted suicide. The signs of depression many times are pointing at it, we must identify it and call it what it is. Depression is an emotional condition or even possibly an illness caused by a chemical deficiency, however, depression is not a person. It does not define a person. “I have depression, I am not depression.” Depression does not define who or what you are, it is merely a condition that can be changed--by you.
What triggers depression? Depression can keep a person chained in bondage mentally to it for some time. But how does it begin? We all face events in our life that elicit various emotional responses. These events can trigger our hearts and minds to travel down the path of depression. Someone goes through a major change in their daily routine. And because they liked their previous routine, they now feel lost and out of sorts. Something happens like a nightmare or recurring negative dream and their sleep gets disrupted. All of a sudden, they fear going to sleep because they don’t want to “keep living their nightmare over and over” and the disrupted sleep is now causing them to travel down a daily road of depression. Some people become depressed because they have poor eating habits and their bodies aren’t getting the proper nutrients. The deficiencies are causing them to become depressed. Stress at home, work, or at school can affect adults, young children, and teenagers causing them to struggle with depression. Abusive people and abusive relationships trigger depression and the feeling of “no hope” that there will ever be a change or a way out. Significant life events such as a divorce in the home or the bereavement due to losing a loved one can also be triggers for depression. In the blink of an eye, a tragic or traumatic accident or sexual assault can trigger depression.
Depression can also be triggered by activities like drinking alcohol or listening to depressing music or watching a depressing show and even hanging around negative people. Alcohol is a depressant and will only multiply the waves of negative feelings. Many people turn to it to “numb” or “ease the pain”, however, hiding or concealing the pain doesn’t make it go away because the pain is still there when they become sober again. If you are struggling with depression have you identified the signs yet? Are you able to identify what is triggering it?
First, if you have relatives that struggle with depression and you believe that you have inherited this struggle then go to a doctor and have them check to see if there is a chemical deficiency that causes you to be depressed. This is real. Also, you may recognize that someone important to you may have this struggle and you need to counsel them to seek professional help. Identifying depression and its source is the first major hurdle to getting to it’s solution.
Next, Christian, let’s address the belief that Spirit-led Christians shouldn’t face depression. Under direction of the Holy Spirit the Psalmist penned Psalm 42:11, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.” He was battling depression and God’s Spirit directed him to pen the solution for him and for myself and many others. When Elijah the prophet was threatened by Jezebel after the victory at Mount Carmel over the prophets of Baal, he checked out and God met him where he was and addressed his negative feelings and gave him hope and new direction. I don’t know about you but I am not better than the Psalmist or the prophet Elijah.
A Christian must turn to Scripture, it’s stated truths and living examples to address his own depression and overcome it. Just as the Psalmist stated, “Hope thou in God!” Start praising God. He is the health of your countenance.
About 10 years ago, I made a list of everything God blessed me with from birth on. I have been adding to that list. There are about 100 plus items on that list. Periodically, I take 15-20 minutes and read it aloud pondering gratefully before the Lord how He has blessed me. It is the foundation of what I know He still has in store for me by way of blessings. He is the health of my countenance.
Speak the truth to yourself. Depression is a passing, fading emotional state that will leave you just as a rain cloud passes on and the sun shines again. Call depression what it is. It is not you. You may feel depressed but you can also feel happy, blessed, thankful, grateful, care-free, joyous, alive, enthusiastic, conquering, encouraged, courageous, humble, and full of love.
You must take control of your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and circumstances. Challenge negative thoughts by canceling them and choosing the positive ones instead. Instead of “I feel down today”, say, “Cancel, cancel. I feel like today is going to get better and better.” Take control of your thoughts. 2 Corinthians 10:5 reads, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” You must take your thoughts captive and make them obedient to the thoughts and beliefs that Jesus Christ would want you to believe. By doing this you will be both mindful of your thoughts and positive. Why? Because no matter how bad life may seem now, it will only get better! A believer is a born-again child of God who is assured that he has a home in heaven prepared for him. His name is written in the Lamb’s book of life. The Holy Spirit has regenerated his spirit and dwells in him sealing him unto the day of redemption. In other words, God’s Spirit lives in me and I am protected by Him until I get to Heaven. I am God’s forever child. I am in the Father’s hand and cannot be plucked out. This is the real, Scripture-based truth believer. Remind yourself of it daily!
Many times we need someone to help us back out of the path of depression. We are here at EncouragingChristians.com to help you. Simply reach out to us through the contact section on our website and we will help you get back on the right path leading you away from depression.