The World Health Organization says that hundreds of millions of people suffer from depression. One in four women will struggle with depression during her lifetime.
That means at least one woman in your Bible study, your neighborhood, your circle of friends—or maybe even you—will wrestle with the energy loss, poor concentration, altered appetite and sleep, hopelessness, anxiety, and sometimes even suicidal tendencies associated with this debilitating condition.
Clinical depression is often described as an imbalance of certain chemicals in the brain, and doctors say it can be brought on by genetic factors or external triggers such as a major loss or disappointment, prolonged chronic illness, and certain prescription medications. How do we as daughters of God deal with depression, or help another woman through her time of need? First, we need to be in prayer, and in the Word of God to understand the spiritual side of depression.
The following article is from GotQuestions.org. Scroll over the Scripture verses to read God’s Word:
Question: “What does the Bible say about depression? How can a Christian overcome depression?”
Answer: Depression is a widespread condition, affecting millions of people, Christians and non-Christians alike. Those suffering from depression can experience intense feelings of sadness, anger, hopelessness, fatigue, and a variety of other symptoms. They may begin to feel useless and even suicidal, losing interest in things and people that they once enjoyed. Depression is often triggered by life circumstances, such as a loss of job, death of a loved one, divorce, or psychological problems such as abuse or low self-esteem.
The Bible tells us to be filled with joy and praise (Philippians 4:4; Romans 15:11), so God apparently intends for us all to live joyful lives. This is not easy for someone suffering from situational depression, but it can be remedied through God’s gifts of prayer, Bible study and application, support groups, fellowship among believers, confession, forgiveness, and counseling. We must make the conscious effort to not be absorbed in ourselves, but to turn our efforts outward. Feelings of depression can often be solved when those suffering with depression move the focus from themselves to Christ and others.
Clinical depression is a physical condition that must be diagnosed by a physician. It may not be caused by unfortunate life circumstances, nor can the symptoms be alleviated by one’s own will. Contrary to what some in the Christian community believe, clinical depression is not always caused by sin. Depression can sometimes be caused by a physical disorder that needs to be treated with medication and/or counseling. Of course, God is able to cure any disease or disorder. However, in some cases, seeing a doctor for depression is no different than seeing a doctor for an injury.
There are some things that those who suffer from depression can do to alleviate their anxiety. They should make sure that they are staying in the Word, even when they do not feel like it. Emotions can lead us astray, but God’s Word stands firm and unchanging. We must maintain strong faith in God and hold even more tightly to Him when we undergo trials and temptations. The Bible tells us that God will never allow temptations into our lives that are too much for us to handle (1 Corinthians 10:13). Although being depressed is not a sin, one is still accountable for the response to the affliction, including getting the professional help that is needed. “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name” (Hebrews 13:15).
Question: “Should a Christian take anti-depressants or other mental health medicines?”
Answer: Panic attacks, anxiety disorders, phobias, and depression affect millions of people. Panic attacks can be particularly debilitating as they can strike a person with no warning. For most sufferers, what they experience is rooted in fear: fear of rejection, fear of acceptance, fear of responsibility, fear of the unknown. Something will trigger fear which drives the person to feel like he or she is losing control. Panic attacks are often both physically and psychologically intense.
Although medical experts believe that many times the above-mentioned ailments originate within a person’s psyche, there are times when a chemical imbalance is the cause. If this is the case, medication is often prescribed to help counter the imbalance, which in turn treats the symptoms of the psychological ailment. Is this a sin? No. God has allowed man to grow in his knowledge of medicine, which God often uses in the healing process. Does God need man-made medicine in order to heal? Of course not! But God has chosen to allow the practice of medicine to progress, and there is no biblical reason not to avail ourselves of it.
However, there is a fine line between using medicine for healing purposes and continual reliance upon medicine for daily living. We need to recognize God as the Great Physician, and know that He alone holds the power to truly heal (John 4:14). We need to look to God first and foremost for our healing. Medicine used to treat a case of panic attack should only be used to the extent that it allows the sufferer to deal with the root cause of fear. It should be used to give back control to the sufferer. However, many sufferers take medicine in order to avoid dealing with the true cause of their ailment; this would be denying responsibility, denying God’s healing, and possibly denying others the freedom of forgiveness or closure to some past event that could be contributing to the ailment. This, then, does become sin, as it is based on selfishness.
By taking medicine on a limited basis in order to treat the symptoms, then relying upon the Word of God and wise counsel to enact transformation in one’s heart and mind, gradually the need for the medicine will diminish. The believer’s position in Christ is affirmed, and God brings healing into those troubled areas of the heart and mind which are causing the ailment. God’s Word has much to say about fear and its place in a believer’s life. Reading through the following Scriptures and meditating on them is the universal cure. The following verses give confidence, and illuminate the truth behind what being a child of God entails: Proverbs 29:25; Matthew 6:34; John 8:32; Romans 8:28-39; 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Corinthians 10:5; Philippians 4:4-9; Colossians 3:1-2; 2 Timothy 1:6-8; Hebrews 13:5-6; James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 5:7; 2 Peter 1:3-4; 1 John 1:9; 4:18-19.
God can heal supernaturally and miraculously. We should pray to that end. God also heals through medicine and doctors. We should pray to that end as well. Regardless of which direction God takes, our ultimate trust must be in Him alone (Matthew 9:22).