In many cases, depression is something you can address spiritually and practically rather than chemically, through anti-depressants. You can often make changes in your spiritual life that will improve your emotional and mental health. Furthermore, if depression is exacerbated by your lifestyle and diet, you can make the necessary lifestyle and dietary changes to reduce or eliminate your depression.
One reason more people don’t change the spiritual and practical aspects of their lives that could improve their mental and emotional health is that they don’t know they can. They would be willing to change whatever they need to change to get over their depression, if they just knew what to do.
During this broadcast, we will show you some of the underlying spiritual reasons for depression and the things you can do to start feeling better. But knowing what to do is only part of the solution. You must be willing to work at making these changes in order to see an improvement in your mental and emotional health. If you’re not willing to make the necessary changes in your life, you aren’t going to see a change.
We don’t intend to minimize clinical depression. There are times when people cannot shake their depression without some sort of medical assistance. If, in fact, you have a chemical imbalance, a chemical deficiency, a chemical intolerance, or a chemical resistance in your brain or body, we suggest that you seek proper medical attention to diagnose and deal with that imbalance or those imbalances, deficiencies, and intolerances. There are some medical professionals who have helped people suffering with depression, by correcting the imbalances in the brain and dysfunction in the body, rather than by prescribing anti-depressants. This certainly seems to be the right way to go, medically.
Apart from any medical reasons for depression, we have found some common spiritual causes and cures for depression in the Bible.
The fear of man can cause depression – Elijah’s horrible fit of depression was brought on by the fear of Jezebel’s threat to kill him (1 Ki 19:4). He was certainly exhausted after confronting the false prophets about the worship of Baal and after killing the prophets of Baal. However, what pushed him over the edge was Jezebel’s threat. Elijah was so depressed that he was ready to die. When David returned to Ziklag and his men were ready to stone him, he didn’t get depressed. Instead, he encouraged himself in the Lord (1 Sam 30:6).
Do you fear men? Consider why you don’t confront someone when they are wrong, why you “hide” from people who scare you, why you fumble with your words when you are asked a question, why you have difficulty speaking with your supervisor or boss, why you dread talking to certain people, and so forth. If you are honest with yourself, and often you aren’t, you will admit that you fear men. This fear contributes to negative thoughts and emotions and can lead to depression. You get down on yourself. How do you get out of it?
The fear of God can cure depression – When you fear men or the consequences of your actions you are actually paralyzed into idleness and heavy negative thinking about yourself. You can’t function normally. But when you fear God, you magnify God. You fear him more than you fear anything or anyone else. In this way, you learn to trust him and to not fear men (Ps 56:3-4, 11). Your fear of God overrides your fear of men and gives you confidence, power, love and a sound mind (Prov 14:26-27; 2 Tim 1:7). As a result, your negative thoughts stemming from fear diminish or go away completely. You have the satisfaction of knowing that you are doing what God wants you to do and you are not being controlled by those whom you fear. What a relief.
Guilt and shame can cause depression –Feelings of guilt and shame over sins can cause people to feel depressed (Rom 6:21; Lk 22:61-62). Of course, a certain amount of shame over a sin you have committed is perfectly normal and reasonable. See Ezek 36:31. This shame convinces you not to go down that road again. However, after you have confessed your sin and you have been forgiven and cleansed (1 Jn 1:9), the shame and guilt should be gone. When these linger, you start becoming depressed because you are always down on yourself.
Letting go of your past can cure depression – You can have a terrible time with regret over your past sins and failures. You cannot erase these things. But you can leave them in the past and move on (Phil 3:13-14). God has washed, sanctified and justified you, and given you a new life in Christ (1 Cor 6:9-11; 2 Cor 5:17). So you can now put off the old man, be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new man (Eph 4:22-24). The world may want to find fault with you (1 Pet 3:13-17); but God has chosen not to remember you sin. So, quit walking through life butt first. You’re only creating more future regrets. You must turn around and move forward. When you do, you will notice the depression that’s associated with past regrets starts diminishing until it’s completely gone.
Bitterness and anger can cause depression – These sins consume a lot of mental and emotional energy leaving you very depressed (Heb 12:15-17). In anger and bitterness, you keep reliving the thing that you are mad about. You keep bringing it up to fuel your anger. What you don’t realize is that you are “killing” yourself. That’s why the Lord told us to put off anger and bitterness and to be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving, instead (Eph 4:31-32).
Leaving the vengeance with God can cure depression – When you have been hurt by another person, whether physically, verbally or emotionally, you are not going to be satisfied until you get even. Nothing frustrates you more than to see the person get off “Scott free,” while you are left to carry the scars of your injury. This breeds bitterness and will send you into a depression that will haunt you throughout the rest of your life. The best remedy is to remember three things. First, Jesus Christ was totally innocent and willingly accepted the punishment for all of our sins without bitterness. He’s our example (1 Pet 2:20-24). Second, God will never allow you to take matters into your own hands to “settle the score.” Vengeance is the Lord’s (Rom 12:17-19). Third, the way to overcome evil is with good (Rom 12:20-21). When you follow what the Lord said in these three passages, your depression stemming from anger and bitterness will subside and go away.
Conclusion: These are just the first three spiritual causes of depression and the cures for each cause. In the next broadcast we will deal with some more spiritual causes of depression and their cures. If any of these are, at least in part, causing you to be depressed, do what the Bible says and start getting out of the funk you are in. You will be able to see more clearly the other things you can do to improve your mental and emotional health.