Dealing With Depression
The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently released a list of “the most depressed countries” in the world; coming in third is the United States of America. How could the world’s superpower and one of the richest countries in the history of mankind have any reason to be depressed? A slew of theories avail. At the very outset, it must be understood that the numbers are inherently skewed. Few third-world or repressed nations place great value in promoting mental health; therefore, few of the citizens of these nations actually visit a mental health professional. On the other hand, modern American culture has removed the sigma of obtaining the services of such professionals, so many will use these services on a regular basis. Visits to mental health professionals make up a large degree of WHO’s conclusion. Still, Americans have a problem; there is no denying that depression is rampant and the use of anti-depressants has skyrocketed. What is the answer to the dilemma?
First, it must be noted that there are some who suffer depression due to chemical imbalances. This physiological condition, through no fault of the individual, causes feelings that can lead to dangerous results. Just as with treating high blood pressure or any other sickness, medication is necessary to return the body to its proper balance. What, though, about those whose lifestyles have led to depression? In these cases, a pill is not the answer; instead, life must be evaluated and the causes of sadness and anxiety put in their proper perspective. Once in perspective, God’s plans must be studied and implemented. Though certainly not an exhaustive discussion, consider three ways God gives to combat depression.
Total Trust in Him
On the surface, this sounds like a generic simplification to a serious problem; however, this is not the case. The Bible contains the life stories of several individuals who, if living in this twenty-first century, might well be diagnosed with depression. The prophet Jeremiah, one of the greatest unsung heroes of the Bible, fits into this category. Called at an early age, the Lord told him his life would be hard. Forbidden to marry, commanded to preach to a hard-headed lot, and promised numerous afflictions due to his stand for truth, Jeremiah had every reason to be sad; he was the “weeping prophet” after all! Consider what God spoke to Jeremiah when called to his prophetic work: “And I, behold, I make you this day a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls, against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests, and the people of the land. They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the Lord, to deliver you” (1:18-19). This did not mean Jeremiah would never suffer harm, for he most certainly did! Neither does it mean that the people of God in any era will live lives of total bliss and comfort. A positive outlook for tomorrow, however, can be attained just as God demonstrated with Jeremiah; every child of God can know that God is his or her protector. As the old hymn states, “Many things about tomorrow I don’t seem to understand, but I know who holds tomorrow and I know who holds my hand”
Accept the Reality of Your Life
Professionals explain that a fair amount of America’s mental health trouble can be traced to the abuse of alcohol and both legal and illegal drugs. While there are several reasons individuals get involved with these substances, one of the primary causes is the desire to “escape reality.” Unhappy with the way life has progressed, some simply choose not to face their struggles head on. This is a dangerous path in many ways, yet topping the list of dangers is the advantage one gives to Satan. Peter’s warning resonates: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (I Peter 5:8). Escapes from reality often exacerbate problems and one returns back to reality learning of even more trouble that was caused during the escape. The sad cycle often spirals hopelessly, destroying family, friends, and future along the way. The words of the apostle Paul present a godly solution to end this pointless cycle: “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). Accepting reality provides the foundation for pressing forward. An honest evaluation of the changes one needs to make is essential to fight depression and mature into a spiritually-solid Christian. Ignoring matters is detrimental to achieving this spiritual goal.
Remember You are not Alone
Loneliness, whether real or perceived, can often lead one into depression. This was certainly evident in the prophet Elijah after his successful victory over the false prophets of Baal. As wicked Jezebel placed a bounty on his head, Elijah fled southward and asked the Lord to take his life. In crying out to God, he stated, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away” (I Kings 19:10). In reply, the Lord allowed Elijah to know he was not alone: “Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him” (19:18). For Christians, in particular, there should be a keen realization that others are there to help. Consider the numerous “one another” passages on this topic: Love one another, bear one another’s burdens, be kind to one another, and on the list could go. Simply put, while one may feel lonely, there are brethren who are available to help if they are so allowed. Self-imposed loneliness is a failure to receive one of the greatest gifts a Christian brother or sister can provide – love.
Depressed? You are not alone. God is near to help if that help is sought. Fellow-Christians stand ready to display brotherly love and remind you that you are not alone. Life can be difficult and situations will abound that can disquiet the spirit. With God and loving brethren at your side, however, success can occur and reality can be bright in knowing there is always help in times of trouble.