Can a Christian Struggle with Depression?

by | Mar 30, 2020 | Marriage, Mental Wellness

As Christians, just because our sins are forgiven, doesn’t mean that we’re no longer human. 

We still have moods and emotions and they are important. Our moods can enhance or destroy relationships.

Is There a Normal?

How do we know if our moods are “normal”? We have no way to measure moods, so we can’t simply test a person to see if they are “normal” as we would with other kinds of medical testing.

Because I work with mood disorders every day, I’ve had to create my own definition of a normal mood. Just compare yourself to this definition and see if you line up.

Normal mood is being relaxed, content, concentrating, in control of our thoughts and with a clear mind, consistently.

You’re right. I don’t know anyone like that either. We can all struggle with our moods at times.

So how can we tell if we need help with our moods? First, we have to determine if our down mood is a normal down or a true depression. A normal down will improve with time or counselling but depression usually needs medication from a doctor.

Discouragement or Depression?

Here’s an easy way to separate a normal down, which I call discouragement, from depression which is a medical illness.

Discouragement is usually triggered by negative life events and clears with time. It only affects part of our life. We may be down about work but fine at home. We still feel connected to God and that life is worth living. Most importantly, a person who is discouraged is able to concentrate and control their thoughts.

Depression is quite different. Depression usually lasts for years. Most of the people who come to see me have been down and gradually getting worse for as long as 20 years. A depressed person loses interest in most activities of life and feels hopeless. They will often feel abandoned or even punished by God.

Here are the most important symptoms to watch for.

When a person is depressed, they can’t shut their mind off from continuous negative thoughts and they can’t concentrate.

It’s very important to determine which kind of down mood each individual may be experiencing. If we are just discouraged, then time and counselling may be just what  we need. If we are depressed though, it’s important to see a doctor.

It’s important for Christians to understand psychiatric disorders since they are the only medical illnesses, in my opinion, with spiritual symptoms.

There are four major things Christians can do in their life to be devotional.

1. Pray — Does prayer require concentration? It sure does.
Would depression interfere with concentration and make it hard to pray?
Definitely. Depressed people often find it very hard to pray.

2. Read the Bible — Does Bible reading require concentration? Of course it does. Would depression make it hard to read the Bible? Absolutely.
Depressed people may stop reading the Bible because it’s too difficult.

3. Worship — Does worship require concentration, if we are doing it properly? Yes, and it also implies we have something to celebrate. Depressed people often struggle in worship since they can’t concentrate and they don’t feel like celebrating.

4. Go to Meetings With Other Christians — The most painful thing to say to a depressed person at a meeting is, “Hi, how are you?” They just don’t want to be reminded of how bad they feel.

We can see from these four points that depression can easily wipe someone out spiritually. But we want you to know that there is hope. God cares about you. There is hope for recovery but it requires taking action. Don’t put up with it any longer!

You can find more information about depression and discouragement in Dr. Grant Mullen’s book, Emotionally Free, and on his website.