“For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself” 2 Corinthians 1: 8
Here we find the Apostle Paul and his missionary team depressed. This depression was motivated by extreme afflictions and frustrations. These circumstances placed a weight or burden on this evangelistic group to such an extent that they did not want to continue living. Here is a clear indication that spirituality alone does not prevent depression. We could also mention the Lord Jesus in the garden before his crucifixion also seemed to be in a state of depression. So feeling depressed is not a sin as long as total hopelessness is avoided.
The state of depression is common for human beings to experience. Depression is a feeling of despair, extreme sadness, downheartedness, deep inner misery, hopelessness about the present and the future, and a dominant attitude of melancholy. Most people will have a time in their lives when they feel depressed. Some people feel depressed nearly all the time. Depression can be motivated by painful circumstances, painful thoughts, and/or chemical imbalances. Depression can be motivated by physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual influences and these can all be intertwined together in such a way that it is hard to know where one begins and another starts.
Depression can be experienced at a very mild level or to such a degree that suicide seems to be a better alternative than living with the inner pain. So when we talk about depression we can be talking about several different types of things that all have the same emotional symptom.
How do you know if you are depressed or how severe it might be? Well you most likely know because you are in touch with these dark and deadly feelings inside. If you think you are in denial you can check out the following survey on the Internet and see if this helps you to understand the feelings you are having more objectively.
I would also recommend you reading the following overview, which can be downloaded, or ordered through the National Institute of Mental Health.
Understanding depression is the first step in dealing with it. What we can understand we can cope with but what we don’t understand can destroy us. So the first step in dealing with depression is to both look inward to our own feelings and outward to objective data about depression.
One key to destroy the fear that depression can cause is to recognize that billions of people suffer from depression in one type or another and have found ways to cope with it. Those suffering from depression are not alone and there are a host of tools that have been developed to enable us to manage and overcome these feeling of despair. So you are not alone and depression not as all-powerful and overwhelming as it can seem. Lots of people have had similar feelings to what you are having, so you are not alone.
So there is not need to deny we are depressed or be afraid of it. Living now “East of Eden” it is a normal part of our humanity to struggle with depression. At times due to the great pain and struggle of life in fact depression is the right emotional response to really dark times. For a biblical example of this one can read the writings of the prophet Jeremiah in the book of Lamentations. So depression will be felt and when we are depressed we need to know how to respond to it in order to manage it in a sane, stable, and spiritual manner.
So if you are depressed you don’t need to be ashamed or helpless. God has a way to get you through this hard time. More to come …..
To Do List
Take the test on depression to see where you stand
Read the National Mental Health booklet to better understand depression