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DEPRESSED? YOU'RE IN GOOD COMPANY.
A variety of emotions flirt with our feelings. Hiding deep down
in the emotions of many, like a jack-in-the-box in a neatly
wrapped gift package, waiting to spring out and surprise us is
the emotion of depression.
Depression is the "common cold" of our emotions. There seems to
be no way to prevent it and no instant cure.
One of the saddest things about depression is that those
depressed tend to think they are the only ones suffering from
this inward enemy. Quite the contrary is true. A study by the
National Institute of Health reveals that depression is a
billion dollar a year business. More than 8 million Americans go
to a doctor each year to be treated for depression. Over
150,000 of these are hospitalized. "Newsweek" reports that it is
now in an epidemic stage. You are not alone.
So many people suffer from depression at Christmas one form has
been named "Christmas neurosis."
If you are depressed, you are in good company.
Can you conceive of MOSES as depressed. In its most acute stages
depression tends toward suicide. Even after being used of the
Lord as an agent to perform miracles Moses became so depressed
it is recorded in Numbers 11: 14, 15 that he cried out to God "I
am not able to bear these people alone...kill me..."
Can you depict ELIJAH as depressed. This was a man of God so
strong in the faith that by God's grace he called fire down from
heaven. This man who defied the godless King Ahab and his vile
wife, Queen Jezebel, and defeated the prophets of Baal suffered
such depth of depression that he pleaded with God, "O Lord ...
take away my life" (I Kings 19:4).
JONAH even after experiencing a miraculous deliverance from sure
death was ensnared by this trap and prayed, "O Lord, take I
beseech thee, my life..." (Jonah 4:3).
ISAIAH referred to his state of depression as "the spirit of
heaviness" Isaiah 61:3).
PAUL a man whose intellect caused the wise of Rome and Greece to
marvel, a man whose voice even demons obeyed, a man who said, "I
can do all things through Christ" acknowledged there was a day
that he "despaired even of life" (II Cor. 1;8).
If you ever suffer depression, remember fellow sufferers such as
Abraham, Jeremiah, Jonah, John the Baptist, and Peter.
If you feel depressed, you are in rank with such
self-acknowledged sufferers as Abraham Lincoln, Sir Winston
Churchill, the prince of pulpiteers Charles H. Spurgeon, Martin
Luther, pioneer missionary Hudson Taylor, song writer Amy
Carmichael, and author C. S. Lewis.
Many well known Christians have wrestled with depression. It is
no respecter of persons.
Dr. Earl Johnson described this "spirit of heaviness" as
"It is the black night of the soul ... when God seems far away,
when He really seems dead, when we feel isolated from friends
and loved ones, become irritated at the smallest things and are
thoroughly disgusted with ourselves ... We have feelings of
hopelessness and dread as if life had run out."
An elemental classification of causes of depression can be
grouped as following:
ENDOGENOUS DEPRESSION is cause by something within. It is
associated with a chemical imbalance of the central nervous
system. This "down" feeling can be caused by a disturbance in
the body's chemical system. Clinically this might result when
the hypothalamus doesn't secrete enough norepinephrine (NE).
This slows the emotional circuit and a depressed feeling
results. No matter what happens unless there is a return of
normal neurohormonal energy in the hypothalamus depression
Symptoms are anxiety, confusion, inability to concentrate,
memory loss, and a constant sad feeling. Other physical symptoms
are pressure in the head or chest, neck or stomach pains,
constipation or diarrhea, and dryness of mouth.
Moods include sadness, loss of self-esteem, an attitude of
worthlessness, inferiority, guilt, and a feeling that everyone
TOXIC DEPRESSION is closely associated. It is caused by outside
substances such as viral illness, drugs, or faulty diet. It can
be either the cause or the effect of a disease.
Mood swings vary form lethargy to hyperactivity and energy
levels vary dramatically.
Consider your eating habits. What you do or don't eat is
important. Blood sugar level and moods are closely related.
PSYCHOTIC DEPRESSION is caused by over-exhaustion, brain
disease, mental disorder, or a nervous breakdown. Behavior and
self-esteem are unpredictable.
REACTIVE DEPRESSION is so called because it is often associated
with the loss of a loved one, a death, or a severe personal
setback. Sadness and anxiety without any physical symptoms
characterize this form.
Reactive depression results form nostalgia, loved ones absent,
separation from family, and a sense of self-devaluation. This
last one affects men most often. In our materialistic society we
tend to measure our worth by our bankroll.
Gifts can cause this type. We say "it is more blessed to give
than to receive," but we also talk about "exchanging gifts."
Even children who get things they know they don't deserve end up
feeling guilty about things for which they begged. Don't worry
about giving things. Give yourself.
It is critical to note these various causes of depression
because many Christians feel that because they are a Christian
they shouldn't get depressed. They try harder to get over it
without success and that further depresses them.
SPIRITUAL DEPRESSION does sometimes result from one of three
One is being out of fellowship with the Lord. As it ispractical
to have a physical check-up to insure nothing physical is
causing depression so it is wise to have a spiritual check-up to
be sure it does not have a spiritual root.
As a Christian it could be caused by being out of fellowship
with the Lord as a result of an act of spiritual disobedience. I
John 1:9 is the cure for depression caused by disobedience.
A second spiritual cause might well be demonic activity. A
Christian can't be demon possessed. Believers are possessed by
Christ; they are His possession. However, anyone can be demon
oppressed. Dr. Derek Prince, author and Cambridge University
professor of logic, realized his deep depression and his
inability to overcome it was caused by early childhood exposure
to Hindu cults and Indian religions. He wrote: "I have learned
from experience that people who become involved in the occult,
normally develop two major problems: confusion and depression."
Prince says satan operates by building "strongholds" in the
mind. Having mentioned demon oppression I hasten to refer to
demon obsession. That is, one becomes obsessed with thoughts of
demons. If you have this tendency let the initial moment of such
a thought cause you to turn your attention immediately to
Christ. Flood your mind with Scripture. Remind yourself of the
basic truth of I John 4:4, "Greater is He that is in you, than
he that is in the world."
Parents who allow their children to play with demon or occult
related toys and games or view occult related films can well
expect to have to deal with depressed teens and young
adults. If you have ever dealt with depression you will
lovingly do anything you can to prevent your child from becoming
inclined to depression. Train your child don't let your child
train you by putting pressure on you by begging for the very
poison that might well destroy him or her later.
I am convinced that the rise in teen suicide can often be traced
to this root.
We can learn much from David's depression as noted in Psalm 142.
I. PSYCHOLOGICAL (Psalm 142:4) "Refuge has failed me, no man
cares for my soul."
"Soul" in the Old Testament is a term signifying the seat of the
emotions. David was emotionally drained. He felt alone. There is
no greater poverty than that caused by the lack of friendship,
companionship, warmth, caring concern, and outgoing love.
Some special events give some persons a false hope of an
emotional quick fix for all the neglect given others during the
year. As a special event draws near and passes persons often
realize their expectations have been too high and depression
Don't wait for someone to care for your "soul." In love reach
out to others. Don't wait for a special season such as Christmas
to do it. Let it become your life style.
II. PHYSICAL (Psalm 142: 6 "I am brought very low, deliver me
from my persecutors..."
We tend to crowd extra activities into our schedules
andphysically deplete ourselves. Some over eat rich foods and
this affects their blood sugar which triggers a form of
depression. Some consume alcohol, a natural depressant, only to
increase their problem. A sense of obligation drives us to
events we have no interest in and deprives us of the
opportunities we desire to enjoy. This builds anxiety and
animosity. We know these are wrong feelings and we get depressed
over having them.
Most persons have some acquaintances that irritate them. We tend
to want to warm up to these frost-factored personalities and
find it difficult to do seasonally. One psychologist hearing a
new patient's introductory comments about a big pain in his
young life made the following suggestion. "Picture your pain as
a bright light. Imagine it dimming. When it goes out, your pain
will be gone." The response: "I did; but when I opened my eyes,
my little brother was still there."
Paul's thorn in the flesh wasn't removed, but he learned from it
"My grace is sufficient for you..."
We need to learn from the misquotation of the model prayer of
our Lord offered by a little child who had not learned it
properly: "Forgive us our Christmasses as we forgive those who
have Christmassed against us."
III. SPIRITUAL (Psalms 142:3 "... my spirit was overwhelmed
Two further aspects of spiritual depression need to be noted.
Both can be very good.
The 19th century Prince of Preachers, Charles Spurgeon
explained some of his depression in this way: "...this
depression comes over me whenever the Lord is preparing a larger
blessing for my ministry." As unlikely as it seems some
depression may be allowed to draw us closer to our Lord in order
to condition us for special blessings to follow.
Depression can be used to help realize God's plan. It was Saul's
depression that brought David into the king's palace.
Spurgeon further commented that "...he saw depression, not as
something to be eradicated, but as something to be understood,
used for God's glory and then alleviated...but before
alleviation there is a positive understanding to be gained."
To believe in the blessing of depression is to believe "all
things work together for good, to those who love the Lord..."
A second good benefit from depression related to that suffered
by unbelievers. If unbelievers were ever to really stopped to
consider what awaits them in eternity they ought to get and live
depressed. Or, better yet let it be the motivation bringing them
to a saving relationship with Christ.
W H A T C A N B E D O N E ?
Various secular remedies have been suggested. In The Anatomy of
Melancholy, the 17th century scholar, Robert Burton, recommended
a bath in milk, and "after bath, the body to be anointed with
oil of bitter almonds, or violets, of new or fresh butter."
If that solution sounds ludicrous you should hear some offered
by modern psychologists.
Try these steps to help:
A. Mind power. With all due respect for the power of the mind I
am convinced we don't have the capacity to avoid certain types
of depression without the help of God. Christ said, "Without me
you can do nothing" (John 15:5).
Take heart, however, with Paul in the truth he penned in
Philippians 4:13: "I can do all things through Christ which
Get yourself off your mind and you mind off yourself. Focus your
thoughts on Christ and Bible truths.
B. Positive experiences need to be brought back into your life.
Even if you don't feel like it brings physical, psychological,
emotional, and spiritual activities back into your life.
Hear again the advise of Luther who said he had learned to
"...ignore his heavy heart, solitude...music...joking, and
feminine company were especially helpful."
Matthew Chappell wisely wrote: "Happiness is purely internal. It
is produced not by objects, but ideals, thoughts, and attitudes
which can be developed by individuals irrespective of the
Don't wait for the external events and gifts of Christmas to
make you happy. Let Christ work within to enable it.
C. Anticipate how God can use your depression. Allow the Lord to
take control of your thoughts. Experientially you can come to
know the truth Moses spoke when he told Israel how theLord would
deal with the curse Balaam had put on them: "The Lord thy God
turned the curse into a blessing for you" (Deut. 23:5).
Employ the principles stated by David who spoke of the past,
present, and future.
PAST: Vs. 3, "Then You knew my path..."
PRESENT: Vs. 5, "You are my refuge, my portion..."
FUTURE: Vs. 7, "You shall deal bountifully with me."
We can have past, present, and future victories because of
"Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Heb.
Ours is the God "which is, which was, and is to come" (Rev.
If you have never responded to Christ personally as your Savior
your first step to recovery is to repentantly ask Him to forgive
and give you new life. Then and only then you have spiritual
resources to deal with depression and all of life.
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