It has been brought to my attention that my last couple of posts on depression, This is Serious and Through: not Out, lacked clarity. I apologize for being unclear. I realize that those posts were somewhat rambling in nature and my actual position and views may not have come through in them. To correct that I would like to simply state what I believe about depression and the common approach Evangelical Christians take toward dealing with it.
- I believe that depression can be caused by physical problems. By this I do not mean that physical problems are a catalyst for depression, as in a person losing their legs and struggling to deal with their new situation in life. I mean that depression can be the direct result of physical problems in the brain that effect the way a person thinks and feels. We know that things like B12 deficiency or severe head trauma can alter a person’s mood and personality. Although the details are unclear about what may be the physical cause for depression, it would not be a big leap to believe that there are physical causes. Many of the symptoms are largely universal and very particular. This fact lends itself to the conclusion that these people are suffering from the same physical problem, and not simply their own particular sadness rooted in their spiritual and emotional life.
- I believe that depression can cause thoughts and feelings that directly contradict what that sufferer knows is true. Since I believe that depression can be physically rooted in the brain, I also believe that spiritual and intellectual understanding may not be able to remove the effects of depression. From what I have seen, depression can cause completely irrational thoughts and feelings that clearly contradict the person’s rational mind.
- I believe that the interactions between the brain, mind, and spirit are extremely complex and that neither Christian counselors, pastors, nor psychologists and psychiatrists understand how these things effect each other. This results in either emphasizing the spirit and ignoring the brain (christian approach) or emphasizing the brain and ignoring the spirit (secular approach). Neither of these approaches demonstrate a balance based on an understanding that the brain and spirit are both involved in developing a person’s thoughts, feelings, and personality.
- I believe that it is possible that a person may have to live their entire life with depression. While this seems like a negative perspective, it deals with the real possibility that depression can be physically rooted and if whatever physical problem is causing the depression is not found and fixed then it is quite possible that it won’t simply go away on it’s own. This understanding can help people to better deal with depression because it neither creates false hope nor guilt for failing to overcome depression.
- I believe that faith is crucial to learning to live with, and through, depression. Faith that God loves and is taking care of us is vitally important to fighting the mental battles of depression. While thoughts may be flooding in that tell a person that there is no hope, faith in God’s love may be the only thing that enables a person to keep going in spite of these uncontrollable thoughts and fears. Having someone to lean on through depression can make all the difference. Faith will enable the person to lean on God for strength through depression and there is no one better to lean on than God himself.
- I believe that sin is not the cause of depression and faith is not the cure for depression. To tell people these things adds burdens to someone who is already quite burdened down. This false notion leads the depression sufferer to feel guilty, confused, defeated, and hopeless. While it may appear to be hopeful because it offers both a cause and a solution, the cause and solution are not real, and therefore when the “proper” steps are taken and the planned result does not actually occur the person feels much worse. This gets exponentially worse when the person is told that the reason the depression didn’t go away is because the sin was not dealt with or the faith was not mustered up. This destructive cycle can go on perpetually.
I hope that makes my understanding a little more clear. Hopefully it didn’t just muddy the water even more. Feel free to share your opinion of my views, tell me if I was unclear in explaining myself, or ask questions about what I have said.