Friday, 16 January 2009

Depression and Christians

Hi, Bluebirdy, I have a question:

How do you feel about depression and what do you think God feels about it. I have pondered on this question for days. What does God think about depression and does Christian get depressed and if so how are we suppose to handle it? My Pentecostal church says if I am sick or depressed, I am not a faithful Christian. What is your opinion on this too.



Hi CC;

It is hurtful when Christians, especially your own Christian church family tells you that if you get depressed or sick, you don't have enough faith or pray enough. Jesus would not tell you that. Depression is usually a PHYSICAL problem, or caused by us being so sick and frustrated and stressed and not fulfilling our lives to the fullest; and often not even being able to get the basics done. Look at the whole Bible. The whole teaching of the Bible is to comfort the poor, the suffering, the broken-hearted (depressed), to give them more joy. Jesus brought a whole new philosophy. TO BLESS THE POOR, THE SICK, THE SAD. This was a completely new philosophy until that time, when only the strong and rich deserved acclaim and attention. In fact, it is often difficult to even accept or understand the teachings of Jesus until you DO become discouraged/depressed at least once. Often that discouragement, maybe a trial that is too hard for one person to handle, forces a person to seek help beyond himself, and leads him to finding God.

Psalms 51:17 Jerusalem Bible: My sacrifice to God is a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart.

Psalms 34:18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Again and again in the scriptures, God is telling us that we WILL get discouraged, life will be hard, and that He will always be there to comfort us and give us some of HIS strength when we don't have enough of our own. There are members of Christ's church who He calls "stiff necked" and "hard hearted" who are judgmental, and Jesus will say to them "I never knew you". They don't seek to be like the Savior, or do the most basic thing He asked of us, to serve one another. We need to be thinking "What would Jesus think? What would He say or do?" He would NOT blame or insult a person for getting depressed or sick. Depression and illness are not sins. They are problems that go along with this school called "earth life". Like I posted in the upper right corner of my blog, those people who judge others will be judged in the same way. If you judge a person only by how they appear and all that they have, that is the way you will be judged on judgment day. That is not how you want to be measured by your Lord, is it?

How do we handle depression? Everyone has to find what works for them. 70% or MORE of people on anti-depressants are still depressed, so that tells me they usually don't work, and they add more side affects, but I think its fine to try some to see if you are one of the 30% that meds DO work for. I know they are necessary for many people, and work well along with counseling. They work great for many people. They just didn't work well for me. I do have one that helps me a lot, it's natural. It's called Sam-e, and it only takes 3 days to work, instead of 6 weeks like prescription anti-depressants, and you don't have to taper off slowly if you find that it doesn't work for you. You can skip days or go off and there are no side affects. Here is a great article about what Sam-e is. It is not prescription, you can get it even in Wal-Mart or Costco or health food stores locally or online.

Depression is complicated. There are many causes and many things that will help. It is not a sin...it is natural, and Jesus came to help the broken hearted, the poor, the suffering, the pure in heart. Even Jesus got discouraged! 40 days when in the desert, his anger in the temple, bleeding from every pore with fear in the garden of Gethsemane, sitting on a hill and looking at His home of Jerusalem and saying "Oh Jerusalem Jerusalem, so often I would have gathered you like a hen gathers her chicks, but you would not have it."

God the Father even got discouraged when he was so upset at how wicked people became, that when Noah built the ark, God repented that he had created man.

Genesis 6:6-7 (NIV)
6 The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. 7 So the Lord said, "I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth--men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air--for I am grieved that I have made them."

I'm sure Jesus and the Father STILL get discouraged with their children's sins and suffering here on earth, so discouragement is not a sin.

One thing you'll like to know, the more intelligent you are, the more depression you get! So if you are really depressed, it should make you feel good that you are probably quite intelligent!

What helps me through depression:
1) Changing the negative thoughts:

I decided to make a list of things that make me smile. Things like hearing children laugh, good music, blue skies, funny emails, helping a friend even by talking, a clean room, bluebirds, fawns, dreaming of traveling the world, jokes, nature, accomplishing something I wanted to get done for a while...and like that song from "Sound of Music" ....I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don't feel so bad." But its a constant battle. We are not going find full-time happiness in this life. This life is a school full of lessons and trials. There are many things in life that bring us joy and make us happy, but the permanent happiness will come when we are done here. The small things in life are the greatest joys.

Life is short. It takes energy to have fun and do enjoyable things, and it takes energy to sit and be miserable, so when you are able, its best to plan something enjoyable to make life as pleasant as possible, and to make great memories.

It takes a lot of effort on our part to learn how to change our thinking from negative to positive. A book that has saved my mind and heart many times is a cheap little book called "Feeling Good" by David Burns. I recommend it to ANYONE who is depressed or is overwhelmed by any emotion, or just stuck in life by something that you can't seem to get over in order to proceed. You can buy the book used, online at any online bookstore or on ebay. I even have bought copies to give away before.

There was an experiment done with this book. They took 100 people with depression, put half in counseling without reading the book, and half in counseling with the book. Those with the book only needed a few weeks of counseling, and those without the book needed many years of counseling and never really progressed. The book really does help you understand your own thinking and how to change it. Its not the new age stuff either. Its an older book that makes sense and is very simple to understand.

Most counselors suggest journaling. Writing down your thoughts so that you can see them clearly and possibly sort them out more easily. It doesn't seem to matter if you destroy the notes after or keep them, but journaling is a cheap and very therapeutic help for depression.

2) I listen to positive music, I try to avoid depressing and negative people and media as much as possible.
I pray, and take time to LISTEN for the answers and to try to feel the comfort after the prayer. Praying is not meant to be a 1 way conversation. He WILL answer you, if you practice listening. He speaks in a still small voice to your heart. I also like to read scriptures that are uplifting. I like to find funny, clean websites/videos/jokes so I can laugh. IT REALLY IS GOOD MEDICINE, as the Bible teaches! It changes brain and body chemistry.

3) Caring for your earthly home---your body . This is the only body you will get. If you destroy it, where are you (your spirit) going to live? lol. You need to care for your body so it will take care of you.
Moving around, even slowly if you must start slowly, makes endorphins in the brain to ease depression, pain and help with sleep. If you can get up and do some marching for a minute or so, it does raise your energy level and helps discouragement. I even stretch and exercise on the days I am stuck in bed. It helps. They say that movement is so beneficial to every part of the body and every chemical and hormone in the body, that if it were a pill, it would be the most prescribed pill of all time. Our bodies were made to stay healthy by continuing to move. The more we stay still, the sicker we become. We were created to WEAR out, not to RUST out.

Choose healthy foods. Often just a deficiency of certain vitamins can throw our thinking off balance. Take a good multi-vitamin if you think you are not eating well.
Not getting enough fluids can alter your muscles, joints and emotional state. So can lack of sunshine. It is especially bad this year due to the long period of bad weather, it is causing S-A-D, Seasonal Affective Disorder. Ironic that the name of the syndrome spells out SAD, which is the symptom also.

4) Isolation is a huge contributor to depression. Pain and depression make you want to be alone, and the being alone causes more pain and depression, and it becomes a vicious cycle. Interacting with others, even if through mail or emails or chat rooms or support groups or going to the library or sitting in a mall and speaking to the person next to you, or asking your friend to come over for a little while, or you going to their house for a little while, does a world of good. Solitude is where Satan likes to attack you and get you discouraged. Isolation is crushing. The scriptures say that it is not good for man (mankind) to be alone. Get out of the house as much as possible.

Visit someone else who might be lonely. Offer your time to someone else. Help others, and you soon see that others have problems as great as yours or greater. God gave us a built-in reward system when we help someone else. It just feels good! Good enough to get addicted to!

I hope I was able to help you! It is a constant battle against the stresses of the world, our frustrating health, and Satan, but we are not doing it all alone. Just ask for the Lord's help, and you'll have it.

"If His eye is on the sparrow, I know He loveth me." "This too shall pass."

HUGS & Blessings


Your answer is as God's voice.
So true.
God bless!

Sheila, you give wonderful advice here! I can't improve upon anything you say, I agree with all of it (and I learned things I didn't know, too!)

As someone who is still fighting against a tendency to depression, I found a book that was very helpful. It was recommended by the minister at my church, it is a new book by a well-known religious author, Marianne Williamson. It is called "Acedia and Me".
Acedia is the name used by Christian monks to describe the despair, loneliness and discouragement that came over many monks in their often isolated and routine lives--it was considered part of their normal development, since when we remove the demands of outside pressures, then we encounter the "demons" inside our own minds. They called acedia the "noonday demon", and it was possibly the most fearsome of all. But they had ways to fight this demon, and this is what the book is about--also the author's story about her own life relating to despair, and how she used their wisdom to help herself deal with it.
This book has given me a lot of strength, since I had not really believed until now that we can overcome depression on our own--and my own symptoms were not strong enough for a doctor to recomend medicine.

Sorry folks--I gave the wrong author's name for "Acedia and Me", it is Kathleen Norris.

I was mixed up because I was also reading a book by Marianne Williamson ("Enchanted Love", which is also wonderful!)

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