What is depression?
It is the most common psychological problem faced by humanity. At some time nearly every human being suffers a season of depression as he or she journeys through this life. For some it becomes a lifestyle and condition that they rarely escape.
But what exactly is depression?
Depression is a deep feeling, attitude and thought process in which we are captured by a conviction that all hope is lost. Depression is hopelessness. It is defeat projected to every possible future moment. It is despair.
Sadness is a response to some past or present loss. It can be regret over things we did not do, or people we no longer have with us, opportunities that escaped us, or pain we are enduring. Sadness is limited to things that have occurred or are occurring now.
Sadness is an appropriate response to circumstances and events that bring us pain or have failed to meet our expectations. All people should feel sadness at times here “East of Eden” for even God weeps over the pain, struggle and loses that are suffered in this life.
But depression goes beyond sadness. It extends the feelings of loss and pain into the future. It grabs hold of the not yet lived moments of our lives. It tells us that no future moment will have anything better and even suggests that it will be worse. There will be no better days, no relief from pain, and no purpose fulfilled. Every effort and experience is in vain, useless, and only promises more sadness and loss.
Depression denies that we are agnostic about the future. It claims to know what will happen and expects only the darkest answers to the question of what will be. It quenches every suggestion of a better day or a brighter future. It draws us into the quicksand of despondency.
Now there are many causes and complexities to each person’s experience of depression. It can have biological, sociological, psychological, mental, emotional and spiritual roots. Most of the time these factor into the feeling of depression. There can be weaker and stronger states of depression, shorter and longer moments when such a mood dominates and many shades of this state of soul and mind. So, in defining it we are not attempting to provide some simple answer to this struggle.
But it is hard to defeat something you cannot define. So, the first step in defeating depression requires understanding what it is at the core of its nature. Depression is hopelessness.
The Achilles’ heel of depression
Here is a thought to ponder. It is the Achilles’ heel of depression. How much does anyone know about what will happen in the future? Nothing!
We want to think we know for this gives us a sense of security. Pretending we know the future of our lives gives us a sense of power and control. That is why we like to project even a defeated and disastrous future over admitting we know nothing about the future at all.
Yet we do not know that all is hopeless or that only defeat will come. This is a story we are telling ourselves, which encourages and fuels feelings of depression. If we can deeply and profoundly change this story, we may find a way to weaken depression in our lives.
Remember what Jesus said about worry about the future. “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? … Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ … So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:25, 31, 34 NASB).
Create a journal
Another way to create an atmosphere of life that does not help depression is to write a Rejoicing Journal. In this journal begin from your earliest memory and write down things that were positive and constructive in YOUR life. Recognize each of these as God’s gift. Begin writing down each day the best moment of that day regardless of how small.
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything, worthy of praise, dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:8 NASB).
The Greek word translated “dwell” here is “logizomai” and means to “reckon, count, calculate and count over”. The idea is to list every blessing and meditate upon it allowing the thinking about it to lift our spirits. Looking at the glass half empty is a biblical idea. Read this journal once a week and during hard times read it daily.
Depression is hopelessness but because of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ we always objectively have hope. Depression can be weakened by developing a healthy inner dialogue and keeping watch over our random thoughts. If you think you are depressed, you should contact a counselor and join support groups. God is greater than depression and can defeat it, even in you.
Here is link to some additional helps. www.depressiontoolkit.org
And here are some tools I provide for dealing with depression. livingwaterchristiancounseling.org/184/
Depression can be defeated, so don’t give up hope. Seek God’s help and healing for your depression assured that God can help you through this time of great pain and hopelessness. Hope against hope in God this day.
Dr. Norman Wise is the Executive Director of Living Water Christian Counseling and host of “Ask the Counselor” on GraceNetRadio.com. Living Water can be reached at 954-726-2303.