God designed our hearts, minds, and bodies in His perfect image. As we live in an imperfect world, we are confronted every day with interactions that shape our thoughts and behavior.
A wide range of emotions are built into our physiology that help us relate to our surroundings. Love, fear, anger, compassion, grief, joy, and depression are all normal emotions. Even Jesus experienced the gamut of emotions as He lived on earth as a man. Depression is a normal emotion that helps us relate to our environment just as any other emotion does. However, when depression becomes an all-consuming emotion, it creates a problem.
For example, a patient of mine had recently lost someone close to her. For months I could see a noticeable change in her physiology. Mourning the loss of her friend created powerful feelings of depression and loss. Her depression was affecting her at work, at home, and with her family relationships. Her doctor even recommended she start taking an anti-depressant. As unpleasant as it was to watch her go through this, her body was responding the right way at the right time. Depression was serving a purpose in her life; however, too often we label depression as a bad thing and try to cover up the symptoms.
It is very easy in times like these to cover up the way we feel with a distraction. Distractions can come in many forms such as antidepressants, working overtime, abusing alcohol, or getting lost in hours of TV. While these diversions may temporarily make us feel better, the problem always manifests itself elsewhere in our life.
To gain perspective on depression, you first have to ask the question, Why am I depressed in the first place? You may already know why you’re depressed; at other times you may have no clue, and that’s okay. God always has a direction for our lives, so we need to seek His wisdom and guidance through good times and bad. Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6 -NKJV).
Although things may be difficult, Christians can avoid deep depression. Think of how hard it must have been for Jesus in the midst of the persecution He faced. Remember what the apostle Paul experienced, yet he remained focused on the eternal rather than the temporary. When we maintain faith and keep our focus on Gods love and the hope He has given us for eternity, Christians can weather the storms of life.
Here are some tips that may help if you’re struggling with depression:
– Seek help from trained Christian counselors. (If you’re not sure where to go, ask your pastor or church staff.)
– Force yourself to be around other people, being alone can intensify feelings of depression.
– Rely heavily on prayer and Scripture.
– Watch your diet. Avoid high sugar diets consisting of grains, sugary foods and fruit. Make sure to eat plenty of high-quality animal fats rich in Omega 3s. (Your brain is made up of about 80% fat.)
– Get outdoors and exercise! Exercise is as effective as antidepressants and has no harmful side effects.