August 15, 2014

Depression. And God.

By now, you have heard. Robin Williams, beloved actor, committed suicide.

Because Robin Williams struggled with depression, internet discussions on the topic abound.  

However, I think there is an element to the current conversation that is at times missing or when present is grossly misinterpreted, and it grieves me. Keep reading, and I'll explain.  There are some things we should cover first.

What is depression?  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that depression as an illness is an affective disorder - the CDC does not classify depression as a disease.

Everyday HEALTH published an article entitled "9 Depression Types to Know."  The nine depression types are Major Depression, Dysthymia, Postpartum Depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder, Atypical Depression, Psychotic Depression,  Bipolar Disorder, Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, and Situational Depression.

When you read about these forms of depression, you learn that one type of depression can be a stepping stone to another.  You also learn that some forms of depression are a constant reality in sufferers' everyday lives - and will continue as such. Still with other forms of depression, there are recurring bouts which end with seasons of normalcy.  And there are some forms of depression that can be overcome.

When reading further on the subject of depression, you learn that it can be treated in a variety of ways via different drug therapies or talk therapy or nutrition therapies or a combination of these. One type of depression can even be treated with what is known as light therapy or artificial light treatment. However, the proper course of treatment cannot be chosen until it has been decided by a doctor which type of depression the patient suffers from.

Obviously, the topic of depression is very complex.  We need to remember this before making sweeping statements about this diverse disorder.   

There are different types of depression suffered by different people who each then must have a different treatment plan.  And as already mentioned, there are a wide range of options for treatment of depression.

And yet - here is what grieves me about this subject - there is one resource for treating depression that is often not considered or is belittled - turning to God for help.

If you are currently suffering from depression, please, let me say this to you:  In your darkest moments, God is there - close to you. He wants to help too. Call out to Him. Reach for Him.

Sadly, there are those who will read this post and sneer at what I just wrote.

Some will read my advice and instantly think I am implying that those who believe in God never succumb to depression.  But nothing could be further from the truth!  The above plea is for the non-believer AND believer.  Depression is no respecter of persons.

Some others will read my advice and think I am implying that if you just pray enough, your depression will be cured.  To that I say, friend, go back and read my statement again.  I said that God can HELP.  I never said there was a spiritual recipe for curing depression. And I would never suggest that a sufferer of depression rely alone on prayer to see them through. God has enabled physicians and counselors and equipped them with the proper medicines (if necessary) and therapies to help suffers of depression. Seek them out! To neglect to do so would be to ignore assistance God has already put in place to help you on your dark journey.

And still there are others who will read my advice and laugh at my supposed ignorance.  They believe counseling someone who is battling depression to ask God for help in fighting the battle is futile.  They say depression can't be changed by God.  But if you believe there is a God, you must believe He is all powerful and has no limitations because to be otherwise means He would cease to be God.  So I say, God is God. God can do anything!  To say God CAN'T do something is illogical.

Hear me! I am saying God CAN help you! HE is the ultimate light in any darkness.  Don't turn away from Him. Consider Him - the Great Physician - your creator - in your treatment plan.

After having said all this, I know we are left with a stark reality.  With God or without God, there is nothing easy about battling depression.

In high school, my sophomore year, I struggled with depression. My treatment primarily came in the form of talk therapy with my guidance counselor.  It was effective.  But it wasn't until I started talking regularly with Jesus after giving my life to Him the summer before my senior year of high school, that I felt completely healed of my depression.

Does this mean that I will never again have to deal with depression in my life?  Absolutely not.  As stated in the Everyday HEALTH article linked above, when it comes to major depression,  "In some instances, a person might only experience one episode of major depression, but the condition tends to recur throughout a person's life."

If I am unfortunate and experience depression again, I will seek help and avail myself of all available treatments - including Jesus.  Please consider doing the same.

Today's forget-me-not: If you are suffering from depression, seek help! Tell a friend or a family member and your doctor. Seek a professional counselor. And don't forget Jesus. He wants to help too!

James 4:8 Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.

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