Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.
We’re in a series on “Handling Emotions Biblically.” Previously we covered how to handle anger in God honoring ways. You can click the link to read those posts.
Today we’ll begin talking about depression and how to handle it biblically. In future posts, we’ll also cover:
Fear & Worry
Trials & Suffering
Handling Depression Biblically – Part 1
No one is immune to feelings of depression. Pastors and many great men and women of God have struggled with depression and discouragement. So can housewives, executives, doctors, lawyers, salesmen, writers and Bible teachers.
For some it’s a mild feeling of sadness for others it can feel debilitating.
People in the Bible suffered from what many would call depression today, including Elijah, David, Jonah, Jeremiah, and Cain.
What Is Depression?
Before we talk more about depression, we need to define it. Most of us probably believe we know what it is, but we may find that there’s a wide range of definitions.
The Medical Definition
The medical world would define depression based on the DSM-5, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition.
According to the DSM-5 a person is depressed if, “Five (or more) of the following symptoms have been present during the same 2-week period and represent a change from previous functioning; at least one of the symptoms is either (1) depressed mood or (2) loss of interest or pleasure (excluding symptoms that are clearly attributable to another medical condition).
- Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated by either subjective report (e.g., feels sad, empty, hopeless) or observation made by others (e.g., appears tearful). (Note: In children and adolescents, can be irritable mood.)
- Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day (as indicated by either subjective account or observation.)
- Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain (e.g., a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month), or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day. (Note: In children, consider failure to make expected weight gain.)
- Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day.
- Psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down).
- Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt (which may be delusional) nearly every day (not merely self-reproach or guilt about being sick).
- Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day (either by subjective account or as observed by others).
- Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.
Notice that the criteria are based on thinking and behavior, not changes in the body, and that the descriptions are subjective not objective.
According to Web MD,
There is no blood test, X-ray, or other laboratory test that can be used to diagnose major depression. However, your doctor may run blood tests to help detect any other medical problems that have symptoms similar to those of depression.
[Diagnosis is] based on self-described thinking and feelings and/or the observations of others.
I don’t note those facts to make light of the reality and intensity of the feelings, only so we can talk about depression in biblical terms.
Clinical depression means that a physician has used his clinical skills based on the complaints of the patient and his own observation.
The most common medical explanation for depression is chemical imbalance. Through the years different chemicals have been mentioned. The one considered the primary culprit has changed numerous times over the last 30 years or so. But while this is widely accepted, even medical journals say it’s a theory and not a fact.
According to Web MD some common triggers or causes of major depression include: Continue reading