Dealing with Depression


“I am trapped in my own thoughts. I am a prisoner of my own brain. Today has been very emotional for me. Very bittersweet today. I can’t seem to breathe. I have been sighing all day to get a little relief. My chest feels like its gonna explode. My feelings are holding me hostage and I don’t know how much more I can take. Does anyone out there ever have these days? HELP!!!! I feel so confused.”

This plea for relief from depression was posted on the internet. The medical community would interpret this as an illness needing medication; the psychotherapeutic community would interpret such frustration as a call for self-help and improved coping skills.

Whereas some cases of depression have (at least) a biological cause, and life skills could be useful, the key issue is an accurate diagnosis. Life isn’t intended to be successful and joyful apart from a vital relationship with our Redeemer. The symptoms of sadness and despondency should prompt the believer to turn his/her attention to God. Most of us have times when we echo the psalm,

“Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?”

For the person who is lost, this is a cry to be found. Saul of Tarsus was found by the risen Christ:

“…I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ, and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death…” (Phil. 3:8-10).

For the discouraged disciple, depressive symptoms are a summons to wholehearted surrender (Rom. 12:1,2) and personal identification with Christ by faith:

“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory” (Col. 3:1-4).

If you have appropriated your co-death and co-resurrection with Jesus, recognize the need for daily abiding. The old patterns of your flesh, the stress of circumstances, and the distractions of the hectic pace of life militate against the contentment of the life hid with Christ in God.

What gets your attention gets you!

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death [defeat and confusion], but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace [victory and clarity]” Rom 8:5,6 (ESV).

Have you been stuck in sadness lately? Take a heart exam: Where have you placed your affections? What channel have you been tuned in to? The law channel or the grace channel? (Rom. 6:14).

After checking on health issues (such as nutrition and rest), let the trial of depression finish its work (James 1:4) by leading you back to the Cross and the flow of Resurrection Life. The Psalmist concluded,

“Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God” (Psalm 45:11).

Copyright 2012 by John Woodward. Permission is given to reprint this article for non-commercial use when credit is given.

Note that overcoming depression involves a holistic model — body, soul and spirit; see Speaking of health issues, examples of significant health information include Dr. Nedley’s program, Nutrition Ministries, and herbal remedies (such as the use of tumeric).

Some have fallen into the enemy’s deceptive solution—suicide. Former GFI board member, John Stevens, has written a profound book on this theme titled, Suicide: An Illicit Lover. The first chapters paint a stirring picture of the allure of this lover and the tragic consequences it leaves behind. The second part of the book communicates how knowing Christ as Savior, Lord, and Life is the answer. The death of co-crucifixion is the door to deliverance!