When it comes to depression, we have to remember we are triune people because we are made in the image of a triune God. We're not all spiritual, all physical, or all emotional. We are complex beings, but Jesus knows us well. And, He loves to reveal His ways of healing to us.
I was feeling depressed a few years ago and decided to go on a fast of eliminating breads and sweets. It was torture and I had no success. "Lord, why can't I do this?" He answered, "I didn't ask you to fast this way. I want you to fast discouragement!" What an eye-opener.
I've learned a few things about depression in my 70+ years. I hope this will be helpful to you.
Is It the Weather?
Solving depression is not a simple matter. It's not entirely medical, mental or spiritual. Sometimes it can be the weather. Where I live there's a dreariness that colors everything bland and pulls our attention downward and inward. What's wrong with me? Why am I so down? I should be more thankful. I'd like to go for a walk but look at it outside. Have you had thoughts like this? You're not alone.
I learned a few things in my 70+ years that might be helpful in guarding yourself from depression.
Is It the Devil?
We do a disservice to our Christian friends if we reduce everything to a spiritual matter. "That's not God!" we proclaim. "That's the devil!"
It's true that the devil is like a roaring lion who prowls around looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). And there are times when we have to take our thoughts captive and rebuke him. But not everything can be blamed on that toothless cat.
Is It What I'm Eating?
According to the Medical Press, "A diet of fast food, cakes and processed meat increases our risk of depression." (1) When we consume foods that promote inflammation - like saturated fats and refined carbohydrates we are "40% more likely to develop depression." (2)
"The result of extensive research is conclusive," writes Dr. Steven Bradburn, "Simply changing what we eat may be a cheaper alternative to pharmacological intervention, which often come with side effects." (3)
We are more inclined to analyze what's "eating us" than what we're eating.
The typical American fast food, processed diet is a sure road to physical and emotional ailments including depression and anxiety.
Is It My Walk with God?
We can't neglect time with the Lord and not see a difference. We need to abide in Him and be in tune with Him. But we also must be careful we don't judge the sufferer (including ourselves). "Are you praising God enough, reading you Bible enough?" The answer is always going to be "no" because what is "enough?" We can open ourselves up to depression if those things are neglected, but again, it's not always that simple. We can't put all our eggs in the basket of spiritual practices without looking at other areas of life.
Is It Loneliness and Isolation?
Depression can be caused by a myriad of things included being isolated and alone. We are meant to be communal. We have been created to live in tribes, families, and to be involved with the Body of Christ. Loneliness is a major cause of depression, and it's not only our senior citizens. Surveys show Mellennials are the loneliest generation. Those between the ages of 23 through 38, who use social media and the internet more than their elders, are increasing their feelings of loneliness. (4)
Isolation, no matter what age you are, is a recipe for depression. When you feel down, you might need to call a friend.
Is It Busyness?
Our packed schedules, and the unrealistic expectations society puts on us, can contribute to feelings of depression because there's no free time. No time to have a meal as a family, or time to simply 'hang-out,' take a walk, be in nature. We need time to create, learn, and pursue the things that make us happy.
Is It Anxiety in the Heart?
My mother-in-law used to tell me, "You think too much." People prone to anxiety usually do.
Proverbs 12:25 says, "Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad" (NKJV). All you have to do is listen to the news and you can get depressed. So, Jesus gives us the cure: "But a good word makes it glad." Sometimes, all we need to hear is something positive, uplifting, hopeful.
"Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30).
"A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out" (Isaiah 42:3). "Your right hand sustains me. Your gentleness has made me great" (Psalm 18:35).
We all get down at times. It's nothing to be ashamed about. The good news is there is always hope in Christ.
Love you, Marji
1. Junk food diet raises depression risk, by Manchester Metropolitan University, Medical Press.
2. Ibid #1
3. Ibid #1
4. Mellennials Are the Loneliest Generation, a Survey Shows, by Minda Zetlin. Inc.