From the beginning of Hippocrate’s first mention of depression (called melancholia), Churches and society have both tried to understand and explain depression. Despite their best efforts, there continues to be a lot of confusion surrounding depression.
For example, how exactly do you address depression as a Christian? You know there is a biological aspect but that’s not the entire story? You know there is a spiritual aspect to this as well but what exactly does that mean? Does one prevail over the other? Does one cause the other or is it a combination of things?
Are people who are depressed just stuck in their sinful ways? Have they been sinned against so much that depression sets in? If we tell them to pray, what happens when the cloud of depression doesn’t leave? Will that only create more confusion?
You can see now how depression seems to raise more questions then answers due to the fact that we still don’t fully understand it.
I recently read a comment from a Christian regarding their theory about depression. The basic premise was that depression was a spiritual awakening that manifested because one finally saw “Like Jesus did,” all of the suffering, sin, brokenness, and evil in this world.
As a result, you become “depressed,” not in the sense with which we define it by society standards but by a spiritual standard. As I thought about it some more it did make some sense.
One doesn’t have to look far to see people such as Job, David, Hannah, Saul, Elijah, John the Baptist, etc….they all use words such as “Troubled, despaired, and miserable,” to describe difficult experiences they went through that would probably be similar to what we call depression today.
If that is how we define depression from a Christian perspective then we all have experienced depression at some point in our lives.
In this sense, depression would not be seen as some disease but more of a natural part of the Christian walk.
There are some problems with this argument though.
For one, not all depression is caused by a spiritual awakening, in fact, I would guess that this would be in the minority. There are a variety of other triggers for depression such as death of a loved one, sin in one’s life, being sinned against, medical issues such as low thyroid function and even a genetic component as well.
Furthermore, although people with depression share some general similarities, we all experience it differently because we all have our own unique genetic blue print, experiences, and subjective window we see things through.
There are also various forms of depression from mild to severe, from Seasonal Affective Disorder to Major Depressive Disorder, and some people only experience temporary associated feelings with depression while others have full onset clinical depression where it starts to interfere with one’s life.
So in this sense, I would say that we have to be careful not to label depression and lump everyone inside of a single box hoping that everyone will fit in it. At the same time, depression must be talked about more in Churches for a few reasons.
1) To prevent isolation.
2) To build community groups where people can connect with fellow believers who are struggling with depression including those who have overcome it.
3) So congregations know that Churches aren’t just a place where they tell you to pray and thats the end of it but instead allows us to tap into the Holy Spirit so we can foster new ways to treat it spiritually.
What are your thoughts on depression? Do you think depression could be a spiritual awakening? Leave your thoughts below.