Understanding Depression (Part II)
We all have dreams, aspirations, hopes and desires. There is nothing more exciting than seeing our dreams come true. But on the other hand there is nothing more devastating when our dreams are shattered and hopes dashed. Often during these times people can plunge into depression. All of a sudden life doesn’t seem to make any sense at least for the time being. King Ahab, though he had all that he could ever wish, was sullen, angry and refused to eat because his hopes were dashed. A simple farmer named Naboth owned a beautiful vineyard an ancestral property next door to King’s palace.
Ahab had set his eyes on this vineyard; he wanted to turn it into a vegetable garden. He approached Naboth and offered to give anything he wanted in exchange of his vineyard. To his utter amazement Naboth flatly refused to sell this ancestral property. “So Ahab went home, sullen and angry because Naboth the Jezreelite had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.” He lay on his bed sulking and refused to eat.” 1 Kings 21:4. Talk about deferred hope. Scripture tells us, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12).
We want something so badly and have high hopes on getting what we want, but when our hopes are dashed it is possible that we plunge into depression.
II. Lack of Love:
During, (354-430 A.D), St. Augustine, the Bishop of Hippo said, “What I needed most was to love and to be loved” The author of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, Peter Scazerro notes, “I break free from the illusion that there is something richer, more beautiful, than the gift of loving and being loved.” Whether we know it or not there is an inbuilt need in all of us to love and to be loved. Over the centuries poets were amused, the artists were fascinated, movie makers made millions, kingdoms were divided, and people killed each other all because of one word “Love.” When we can get true love and give true love it is the sweetest thing but when we are deprived of love it is like a bitter pill to swallow. Studies tell us that lack of love can lead people to depression.
The well known people’s princess lady Diana experienced bouts of depression due to lack of love from her husband. In an interview with BBC she shares, that “late in her first pregnancy she threw herself down a staircase trying to draw attention to her pain. She said of the incident, "I wanted Charles to put his arms around me and say he loved me, but all he ever did was give me a pat on the back." Diana also revealed that she had suffered from post-natal depression after her first son was born. She suffered with devastating bulimia, to help her deal with her marriage problems, especially when she came to know her husband was still in love with former girlfriend, Camilla Parker Bowles. Diana is a classical example of what happens to someone who is deprived of Love. A broken relationship and a broken heart can be devastating.
David sought the Lord when he was depressed and wondered whether God still loved him. “When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands and my soul refused to be comforted. I remembered you, O God, and I groaned; I mused, and my spirit grew faint. You kept my eyes from closing; I was too troubled to speak. My heart mused and my spirit inquired: "Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? Though God never withheld love from David, neither does God ever withhold his love from us. Yet we go through times were we don't feel loved and even feel abandoned by God.(Psalm 77:2-8)
Fear is a strong emotion. When we are afraid we move into either fight or flee mode. When we look at the present economic condition it is nothing but depressing. A New York Times article carries this heading: “In This Economy, Fear Is Rational.” Another headline says: “Economy triggering depression, anxiety”“As people lose jobs or watch their retirement savings dry up, some psychiatrists say they are seeing an increasing number of new patients with depression or anxiety, and that the symptoms of some current patients have worsened.”
During this economic meltdown, many fear of loosing a job, a house, not having money to provide food on the table and take care of medical needs. This is making a lot of people depressed. These are real problems. And there are no easy answers or quick fixes for the present economic problems. But from scriptures we can draw strength to overcome all crippling affects of fear.
“But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! 2 "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you.” (Isaiah 43:1-2)
IV .Sin: According to David B. Biebel, there are four basic types of depression. 1. Situational depression. 2. Developmental depression. 3. Spiritual depression. 4. Biological depression. (New Light on Depression). These four areas also could be the primary causes for depression.
As a Pastor I am particularly interested in understanding “Spiritual Depression” What could be the causes for Spiritual Depression? There are many factors that could contribute to Spiritual Depression, one among them is un-confessed Sin. Though depression in itself is not sinful yet we cannot rule out the fact that un-confessed sin can cause depression.
God confronted Cain after his offering was rejected saying “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” (Genesis 4:6-7). Several of David’s psalms, seem linked to his sin committed against Bethsheba, He wrote, “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.” (Ps. 32:3-4, 38:1-8)
David was going through major depression because of his sin. The treatment for this expression of depression is confession. As David described, “For I confess my iniquity, I am full of anxiety because of my sin.” (Ps 38:18). I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, I will confess my transgressions to the LORD” and you forgave the guilt of my sin. (Psalm 32:1-4)
Though we can not always say sin is a cause for sickness and depression, there is a co-relation between those two, that is why Jesus had to pronounce forgiveness of sins before he healed the Paralytic man (Mk 2:5), James exhorted the believers to confess their sins to one another and pray for each other so that they may be healed.”(James 5:16)
When it comes to depression there are different types of depressions. I am aware of the complexities of depression therefore I do not want to offer simplistic answers in regards to treatment. David. Bieble suggests, “The most effective treatment for depression is a cooperative, multi-disciplinary effort that considers all arenas of the depressed person’s life.”
Depression is taking on Epidemic proportions in this country. Whether we like it or not we all are vulnerable to depression. At one point or the other we all can be depressed. Including the most righteous people can be depressed. I would like to echo the words of my dear Pastor in India he would often say: keep coming to church and I add to that, avoid isolating yourself. Meeting people is often the last thing you feel like when you are depressed and yet it is often the most therapeutic. There is hope. The hope for a depressed child of God if found in the Loving arms of a caring God and in an authentic community where there is love, support and nurture.
When you pray, God will come to you where you are to take you where he wants you to go.