Christians living with depression

Depression is a major health issue for us and there are no easy solutions. I have learnt a little of loving and praying in the midst of a Christian community living in the resurrection hope of Christ.

Seeing in the dark by Barney Zwartz reflects on the resources Christians can bring to their struggle with serious depression.

Should believers have a better chance of coping with serious depression than  those without faith? According to a Christian psychologist, yes they should,  because religion is about hope  and depression involves the absence of  hope.

Although religious belief is not necessarily any defence against becoming  depressed, it may provide extra resources in overcoming the problem, according  to Christian psychologist Ed Welch. . . .

Welch quotes American Psychologist as saying recently that the failure  of hope was at the crux of our modern predicament. ‘‘We need to grasp the  implications of this conclusion: medication by itself can’t supply hope; trying  to think positively won’t do it either; nor  will shock treatment. These  treatments don’t actually help us understand why we should have hope.’’

Welch suggests believers benefit from a sure morality and a sense of purpose.  He agrees that secularists can certainly live principled and moral lives, ‘‘but  it’s less likely that a person will have a clear moral vector or a sense of  purpose if they are committed to atheism’’, he says.

He argues that if we include depression in the wider category of personal  suffering, then the Bible has much to offer. In particular, it offers hope in  the midst of suffering, plus (ideally) a community of care.

Read more, Seeing in the dark.

The importance of community for well-being is noted in Sally’s personal and profound reflections, here, and in the second of two research projects I commented on in, Marriage + religion = Social capital.

The value of a community of care is central to Christians’ discipleship and hence their well-being. Jesus invited people to come and follow him and while following him they participated as a member his community and learned of him and his way of life for the world. May the Holy Spirit heal, empower and sustain us.


Christians living with depression — 5 Comments

  1. Thank you, John.

    Having hope in Jesus did not give me immunity from clinical depression. But throughout my recovery it has definitely been my foundation. Jesus is my goal, not wellness. In my darkest time He led me to understand the truth that *nothing* can separate me from Him [Romans 8:38-39]. That He is all I need. These words can sound trite. But I do, in my heart, now know what they mean. And for that reason, I am grateful for the lessons of depression.

  2. Hi Sally,

    Your personal testimony of walking through the darkness of depression with Jesus, family and community is an encouragement to many of us.

    At staff devotions this week we shared 1 Thessalonians 3:5-13, especially verses 7 and 12, and your testimony was significant for our prayerful reflection and praxis.

    Thank you from us 🙂

  3. There is nothing new under the sun. All this talk by people like Welch of our “modern predicament” is plagiarism (even if those spouting it are too ignorant to realise that, hence can be forgiven). TS Eliot spent most of his poetical life saying the same thing, and that’s a while ago. And at least his work is enjoyable to read, which is a lot more than one can say for most current “learned” papers. Unless I read him wrong, Augustine (the African one) went on at great length in the same vein. And that’s a bit of a while ago too. Claims that medication can’t solve the problem are erroneous. There’s a new tablet which is infallible – ask your friend Alan Gijsbers, who now uses it in his clinic.

  4. Dear Peter,
    “While the sentiments of the tablet are fine, there are more refined ways of setting emotional boundaries on our work and on the way our care for difficult patients can get us down.”
    Advice from the learned Professor Gijsbers.

  5. While distancing myself a little from Peter Paisley’s drug prescription, his general point, that ‘depression’ is not a new phenomenon is very valid. Psalm 88 in the Old Testament expresses depressive symptoms very movingly. John of the Cross describes the dark night of the soul and William Cowper (of ‘God moves in a mysterious way’ fame) also suffered depression (you can tell from the sort hymns/poems he wrote).

    I often wonder about the resilience of people who suffered deaths in childbirth, plague, wars, famine etc. they too must have had to cope with grief and loss. Maybe the ‘new’ phenomenon is the myth that somehow we feel it shouldn’t be like that – ie a loss of acceptance of the difficulties that life can bring.

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