By Rev. Fayon Witche LAC,
Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, Whose hope is in the Lord his God
– Psalm 146:5
Arguably one of the most debated topics is that of the depressed believer. Many struggle with the notion of a born again believer being oppressed by the spirit of depression. In the book, New Light on Depression, Dr. David B. Biebel and Dr. Harold Koenig define depression as “a state of existence marked by a sense of being pressed down, weighed down, or burdened, which affects a person physically, mentally, spiritually, and relationally.” Dr. David Burns describes sadness as a normal emotion that results from a realistic perception of a negative event involving loss or disappointment in an undistorted way. Depression, however, is an illness that results from a distorted way of thinking. Depression is known as the “common cold” of mental disorders.
In 1 Kings 19, we see Elijah after his battle on Mount Carmel with the Baal prophets was overcome by feelings of despair and appeared depressed as he was isolated and feeling quite hopeless—but God reminding him that he was not alone. Proverbs 18:14 states, “The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness, but who can bear a broken spirit?” Psalm 118:25 says, “I am laid low in the dust; preserve my life according to your word.” Both texts echo the sentiment of the author and described their feelings of depression.
Common Signs and Symptoms of depression include (helpguide.org)
- Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. A bleak outlook—nothing will ever get better and there’s nothing you can do to improve your situation.
- Loss of interest in daily activities. No interest in former hobbies, pastimes, social activities, or sex. You’ve lost your ability to feel joy and pleasure.
- Appetite or weight changes. Significant weight loss or weight gain—a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month.
- Sleep changes. Either insomnia, especially waking in the early hours of the morning, or oversleeping (also known as hypersomnia).
- Irritability or restlessness. Feeling agitated, restless, or on edge. Your tolerance level is low; everything and everyone gets on your nerves.
- Loss of energy. Feeling fatigued, sluggish, and physically drained. Your whole body may feel heavy, and even small tasks are exhausting or take longer to complete.
- Self-loathing. Strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt. You harshly criticize yourself for perceived faults and mistakes.
- Concentration problems. Trouble focusing, making decisions, or remembering things.
- Unexplained aches and pains. An increase in physical complaints such as headaches, back pain, aching muscles, and stomach pain.
For a diagnosis of major depression, five or more of the above symptoms must persist for more than two weeks and represent a change from previous functioning.
The risk factors associated with depression are loneliness, lack of social support, recent stressful life experiences, family history of depression, marital or relationship problems, financial strain, early childhood trauma or abuse, alcohol or drug abuse, unemployment or underemployment, health problems, or chronic pain.
Depression could result from situational experiences such as undergoing sever stress from negative life experiences, major losses during childhood or early deprivation of emotional needs, genetic or biological imbalances or dysfunction in the brain or spiritual such as feelings of guilt over sins.
Myths about Depression
- You’re depressed because you want to be depressed.
- You can beat depression with will power.
- You’re depressed because of unconfessed sin.
- If you’re depressed, you’re just feeling sorry for yourself.
- Depressed believers have weak faith.
- It’s easy to tell when you are depressed.
- Depression is just another word for grief.
- Depression is a waste of time.
- Depression arises from repressed anger.
Depression can be treated by psychotherapy and or antidepressant medications. Additionally, Scriptures from the Bible can be helpful when facing depression. Here are some excellent verses:
- “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.” (Revelation 12:11)
- “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.” (Psalm 42:11)
- “Casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself above the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)
- “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” (Psalm 9:9)
- “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” (Psalm 55:22)
- “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” (Deuteronomy 33:27)
- “You are my lamp O Lord; the Lord turns my darkness into light.” (2 Samuel 22:29)
- “The righteous person faces many troubles, but the LORD comes to the rescue each time.” (Psalm 34:19-NLT)
Fayon Witche, MA, LAC, is a counselor at Light the Way Counseling Center and Family Connections in Hawthorne, NJ (www.lightthewaycounseling.com). She is an ordained minister.