I have equally encountered both populations of people. Those who clearly suffer with clinical depression and those who are facing a spiritual battle that has left them burdened and in despair, as well as a combination of both. Mood disorders are complex interactions between biological, psychological, and spiritual factors, and all leave the person feeling hopeless and unmotivated to face the day. Christian’s may face an added burden of guilt as depression can often be stigmatized by the Church as sin or lack of faith. Whatever the case, the causes of depression are many and can be difficult to discern without the blessing of an objective perspective provided by a counselor.
I like to go by a guide provided to us in the book of Psalms.
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.
I love the example we find here. First a question to yourself. “Why are you cast down, O my soul and why are you in turmoil? In this particular Psalm, the writer is depressed due to the oppression from his enemies. Can you determine the cause of your symptoms? Can you recall any one event bringing on those sad feelings? The key is to think about what you are thinking when the sadness appears. If you can determine a cause or event, pray that God would help you forgive and/or reconcile.
Next, the psalmist takes action by encouraging himself. “Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” The psalmist is not allowing His emotions to dictate the temperature of his soul. He is grabbing the reigns of his heart and with fortitude, declaring his hope and worship in God. If your depression stems from a certain event, think biblically about that circumstance. Depression can also be the result of unrepentant sin as one can experience a sense of mourning for having grieved the Spirit of God, this is called godly sorrow. I want to be clear that depression is not a punishment from God, but ultimately the result of living with a damaged body and mind in a world marred by sin.
Other causes of depression can be hormonal or neurochemical. It is always a good idea to rule out hormone imbalances by making an appointment with your physician to have that checked out. Depression can also be neurochemical and is usually explained as a serotonin deficiency. However, researchers don’t know whether the dip in serotonin causes the depression, or the depression causes serotonin levels to drop. Regardless, because of the serotonin deficiency, some consider taking antidepressant medications that work on serotonin levels — SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and SNRIs (serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) — which are believed to reduce symptoms of depression. Early-life traumatic experiences have also been shown to cause long-term changes in how the brain responds to future fears and stresses and can account for lifetime experience of major depression.
My recommendation would be for you to research a Christian Counseling agency in your area before you consider a psychiatrist. Until then, my second and most important recommendation would be for you to renew your mind daily with the Word of God. Invest in the app “Bible Promises” that sends you an encouraging verse at the time you would like it to. Make it a point to memorize verses like:
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
I believe without a shadow of a doubt, there is hope for healing. That hope is Jesus Christ, who alone has the power to make us whole.
Believing with you,
Vanessa Cruz MA, LPC