Originally published Friday, 06 April 2018.
I'm a Christian; I came to this realization very early in life and have lived a life aligned with the Christian faith. Within Christianity, there are common thoughts that persist even though they are untrue. One of those thoughts is that Christians don't get depressed, or depression is not real.
In reading the book of Job in the Bible, Job acknowledges that he was depressed. His troubles were weighing him down and he didn't understand why, so he suffered from bouts of depression during his trials.
In Job 30:11,18-23 Job feels cut off and far away from God.
In Job 20:1-14 Job acknowledges that he's faded from prominence.
In Job 30:15-17; 24-31 Job mentions living in terror; he's poor depressed and sick.
Job had all of the conditions that were ripe for (situational) depression, and he expressed it to his friends and to God. In addition to Job there are many other Biblical figures that dealt with depression:
David - Psalms 37-40 David reflecting on instances when he was wronged. How often the psalms comfort us when we are down.
Jonah - Jonah 4 Jonah felt sorry for himself because of what God decided.
Elijah - 1 Kings 19 Elijah experienced an emotional letdown after defeating false gods.
King Saul - 1 Samuel 16:14-23 Saul was tormented in his spirit.
So it is foolhardy of Christians to act as if depression does not exist or to simply make light of our emotional state. Job was ill, lost his possessions and his children. He reasoned with God, questioned God and yet he was still depressed and his situation remained the same. But Job had something many depressed people may not have - he had hope. He did not go into a state of permanent despair, a place where many seem to be and can't seem to escape it. Job knew God had the final answer and he would continue to trust God in spite of his circumstances and no matter how he felt.
Depression is an all-encompassing word for when we're feeling down; however, there are degrees of depression (Source: www.compellingtruth.org/Christian-depression.html)
- Situational depression is, as the name implies, brought on by adverse situations.
- Clinical depression is an ongoing condition that lasts every day for most of the day and for longer than two weeks.
- Chronic depression is less intense than clinical depression but can last much longer—two years at least. It's characterized by fatigue, sadness, and general malaise, and it can be punctuated by bouts of clinical depression.
In your depression, you may be prone to losing hope. Even as a believer you may feel the debilitating consequences of depression; the sadness that overwhelms and makes you feel like you can't go on; the fatigue that drains and immobilizes; the fuzzy feeling that clouds your thinking; the inability to express emotions properly. When we are overtired, stressed, or anxious for long periods of time this may lead to depression. Or sometimes there can be a hormonal imbalance as is the case after giving birth.
The point of this post is that depression exists but it doesn't have to be permanent. You don't need to remain depressed forever. I have been depressed at various points in life. Once I recognized it, I did everything I could to get past it. I researched remedies, went to my doctor, took more time for me, prayed more, and read my Bible more which led to amazing revelations for me that ultimately removed the depression. Like Job, even when I was depressed I never gave up hope. I chose to believe the truths of God's word vs. the lies of the devil. I shared with those closest to me and they were able to help, hold my hand and encourage me.
I've noticed that in marriage when one is up the other is down and vice versa - and it's good because we can be what the other needs at that point in time. In the rare or occasional moments when we're both down we talk it out, laugh it out or hug it out because sometimes nothing can be said. Job had his wife, who is often misunderstood and his friends who at some point became miserable comforters. But in all of this when humans failed Him, he held on to the faithfulness of God. He never gave up on God.
Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God! Psalms 42:11 [NLT]
If you're depressed don't give up hope, trust God and seek help.