Help, I’m Depressed
A Study Guide
“The presence of faith gives no guarantee of the absence of spiritual depression; however, the dark night of the soul always gives way to the brightness of the noonday light of the presence of God.” - R.C. Sproul, The Dark Night of the Soul
Are you feeling really down lately? Do you sometimes wonder, “What’s the use?” You’re not alone. Many people feel helpless trying to understand or deal with this mentality.
I. Central Concerns:
Am I Depressed? We need to distinguish between being depressed, having to do with mood, and having depression, which involves effect. Think of it as the difference between weather, which is temporary and dynamic, and climate, which is long-term and stable.
Being depressed, a mood, may be related to many factors like not have a sense of meaning or purpose in your life. That’s why it’s so important to consider what you believe about God, about people, and about nature. In other words, how you see the world can effect your mood and how you live your life. For example, if you believe that God is fair and loving, even when life is tough, then perhaps you can better handle the painful emotions of anger, sadness, and depression.
You should begin by finding truth in your spiritual life, but some specialists say that depression may be spawned by a series of losses, like losing your job, or good health, or maybe a best friend, or loved one.
Some of these factors, like loss of hope for example, may result in a type of depression that can often be changed by first identifying: How you view the world, and how that worldview effects your mood, often changing how you act and react, according to appropriate core beliefs can help diminish and even ward off depression.
Do I Have Depression? Being depressed can be thought of as a temporary, dynamic state of emotion. This type of emotional state is really related to sadness associated with a life event and one’s perception of that life event.
Treating this type of emotional state is about helping someone change their focus and allowing time to heal any sense of loss. Having depression, however, is much more complex. It is characterized by a number of different symptoms, including sadness that don’t easily respond to change and how we think.
What Happens When Someone Has Terrible Thoughts . . . For a Long Duration? Frequently, there may be chronic thoughts of loss and/or death. There are often indicators when the body, particularly the brain, has become effected. Two indicators of this are: Persistent disturbance in sleep and appetite. In both instances, depression may cause abnormal sleep and eating habits. There is often a lack of energy and concentration and excessive feelings of worthlessness and guilt. There can also be a number of vague physical complaints such as generalized muscle aches. If several of these types of symptoms have persisted steadily for more than a couple of weeks, they may be indications that you have depression that needs professional intervention. If this describes you, then consult with your physician. There could be any number of medical irregularities contributing to the depression that need to be evaluated. Some of these conditions include hormonal and cardiovascular irregularities.
Ruling out different factors, it may be necessary that the brain needs some medical attention through the use of anti-depressant medication. Again, this is a decision that needs to be made in the consultation with your family, pastor, and medical professional. If you have depression, it is important to become involved in a counseling relationship with someone who specializes in the treatment of clinical depression. Although the journey can be long and difficult, it is possible to reduce or eliminate depression and to become more resilient to its effects.
Here are a couple of ideas to get you started on the right track: Stay away from bad foods (such as white breads, sugars, and caffeine). Eating healthier and daily cardiovascular exercising can really aid in your healing process. Another important tip . . . is sleeping. Lack of sleep can cause severe emotional instability and can be a major catalyst in overcoming depression.
The Bottom Line: Through all of this, there is only one person in whom we can find complete healing. The hope and joy you can cling onto is found in Christ. Once you take hold of this truth, you’ll be able to grasp the reality of why you are here, which is to love the Lord with all of your heart, soul, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.
Recommended Further Reading:
Unmasking Male Depression: Recognizing the Root Cause to Many Problem Behaviors Such as Anger, Resentment, Abusiveness, and Sexual Compulsiveness, by Archibald Hart
New Light on Depression: Help, Hope, and Answers for the Depressed and Those Who Love Them, by David Biebel and Harold Koenig
Breaking Through Depression: A Biblical and Medical Approach to Emotional Wholeness, by Donald P. Hall
The Inner Voice of Love: A Journey Through Anguish to Freedom, by Henri Nouwen