Is Depression Really a Sin?
Is depression a sin? What do you think?
This is a sensitive question that many Christians battle with because they are trying to understand what is going on emotionally with themselves or with someone close to them. Often, well-intentioned people within their Church community who don't understand depression add unecessary pressure to a depressed person's already painful situation. They say things like: "Pray harder" or "There must be sin in your life or you wouldn't feel like this". This just piles on even more guilt to someone who already feels guilty about everything. So, is depression a sin, or a portrait of sin in our life?
I answer that with a straightforward, "NO"! A person who is prone to experience depression isn't at fault if his or her emotions begin to go into a downward spiral, rather it is how they respond to that downward spiral that will determine if they are engaging in a sin. For example: a person who is prone toward drunken alcoholism isn't at fault, but giving in to their addiction is sin. Remember: The origional meaning of "sin" is "missing the mark".
There are several things that Christians can do when they feel depression beginning to clamp its cold hands upon them. First, because depression makes you feel like you want to stay away from everyone -- including God, and it also makes you feel as if no one could really love you -- including God, continue to read the Bible, pray and thank Him for His Love. By doing these things, you are in fact saying "NO" to your depression. Say "YES" to communication with God during these times, and remember that you have the ability to do what He wills. God's Word, not your present emotional outlook, is your authority! Second, try to keep yourself from making any major decisions when you're feeling depressed, because any decision you make during this time is bound to be colored by a false sense of what's really going on, and a poor decision could make you feel even worse - Especially if you make a decision to destroy your relationships or your connection with God. Third, always thank God for taking care of you and for loving you, even when you can't feel it or see it. This exercises your faith and strengthens you.
When you're depressed and you trust God to take care of you and bring you through your bout with depression safely, then you're exercising faith. If you can believe He Loves you even when you don't feel loved, that's faith. Fourth, speak with your doctor about medication options available that may provide some relief. Finally, reach out to a therapist or to Christian counseling that can provide you with support and help you to address the underlying causes of your depression. This can help you develop a positive plan of action.
Depression is a serious illness. Depression is also, unfortunately, a common illness that does not discriminate. Men and women of every age, educational level, social status, and economic background can suffer from depression. There is no area of life that does not suffer when depression is present. Marriage, parenting, friendships, careers, finances – every aspect of daily living can be compromised by this disease. The problems caused by depression are made worse by the fact that most people suffering from the disease are never diagnosed, let alone treated. The good news is that when depression is promptly identified and treated, it's symptoms are manageable and there are many effective strategies for living with the disease.
Although scientists agree that depression is a brain disorder, the debate continues about it's exact causes. Many factors may contribute to the onset of depression including genetic characteristics, changes in hormone levels, certain medical illnesses, stress, grief, or substance abuse. Any of these factors alone or in combination can bring about the specific changes in brain chemistry that lead to the many symptoms of depression and related conditions. Depression may impact your thoughts, your emotions, your behaviors and your overall physical health, therefore it is important to recognize some of the most common symptoms that point to the presence of depression.
Of course, all of us can expect to experience one or more of these symptoms on occasion, and an occurrence of any one of these symptoms on its own does not constitute depression. When healthcare professionals suspect depression, they commonly look for clusters of these symptoms occurring regularly for two weeks or longer and impacting functional aspects of the person’s life. Remember that depression is an illness caused by many factors, not due solely to spiritual problems. So, stop feeling guilty and begin focusing on the cure!
- Jeff Stein
Depression: Reject the Guilt, Embrace the Cure. (n.d.). Retrieved January 8, 2015, from http://wwwfocusonthefamilycom/marriage/facing-crisis/dealing-with-depression/depression-reject-the-guilt-embrace-the-cure
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