Depression - Is it a disease?
In the world today depression is defined as; a disorder characterized by an inability to concentrate, insomnia, loss of appetite, anhedonia, feelings of extreme sadness, guilt, helplessness and hopelessness, and thoughts of death. Also called clinical depression. (DIctionary.com) Is this a medical condition that is beyond our control? Can depression be controlled or cured with medication?
Doctors can only cure what physically ails us. While doctors know a lot about the brain, they know little about the mind. Our moods, our actions, everything we do is effected by what we think. Our mind controls how we feel. That is why The Bible tells us that we are to have the mind of Christ.
The Bible is clear that depression is not an illness, but rather a lack of having a proper Christian mind set. The good news is that the Lord has given us His Spirit to indwell us and with the Spirit comes a promise of peace, hope and joy. We have the Spirit who is hope, so we have nothing to feel hopeless about.
If a Christian is experiencing depression, what should they do? Let us take a look at God's Word to see what the Bible has to say about depression.
The Fruits of Depression are in Conflict with the Fruit of the Spirit
Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (NIV)
The fruit listed above is the exact opposite of how depression is defined. Extreme sadness can not co-exist with joy, hopelessness has no place in peace and you can not be practicing self control while feeling helplessness and contemplating death. We must ask ourselves then, if the Spirit of Christ offers us these things, why are doctors telling us that depression is a disease?Though the medical profession has tried to theorize that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, they have not proven this to be factual. Even if a chemical action is occurring in your brain, we know just from daily living that the physical reaction is usually caused by the emotion, not the other way around.
For example; A person does something that makes me mad, the more I think about that, the madder I get. Pretty soon, my heart is pounding and therefore my pulse is quickening all because of the emotion of anger. I didn't have the physical reaction until the emotion of anger became prevalent in my mind.
Though the medical profession tells us these things are beyond our control, the Bible simply instructs us not to give into to such emotions. We are told that feeling these emotions is optional. We are also offered comfort from knowing that the Spirit within us is powerful enough to overcome them. Let us look at some specific passages and what we can learn from them.
We are a New Creation in Christ
2 Cor 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (NIV)
We are told that when we are saved, we become a new creation. Our salvation is not something that just deals with the after life, accepting Christ gives you newness of life right here and now. As a new creation we are specifically told that we are not to be conformed to the mind set of the world, we are to renew our minds in Christ. This is essential in order for us to even be able to begin to understand what God's perfect will is.
Rom 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will. (NIV)
So how do we renew our mind? What does that mean? Paul explains how we can renew our mind and experience the peace of God that passes all human understanding.
We Renew our Mind by Rejoicing in all Things
Phil 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (NIV)
We are told to rejoice in the Lord always, not just when things are good, but all the time. Paul emphasizes this fact by repeating it again, rejoice! Rejoicing is something we are expected to do. He then goes on to say, "Do not be anxious about anything." Anxiety is a feeling, an emotion, and here Paul states that we should simply not be anxious. This statement reveals that feeling anxiety is a choice, but Paul offers us an alternative. He tells us how we should handle matters that otherwise cause us anxiety.
The Bible tells us clearly that we should give all of our cares to God. It goes even further in telling us how this should be done. "In everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." In everything, good or bad, we should pray and petition God with an attitude of thanks! We have a God that will hear our cries, a God that will comfort our burdens, so we should and CAN be thankful because we know that He is in control! This isn't hard to do when you realize that God IS who he says and God IS in control!
So what happens when we do this? Paul tells us! "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." We not only have peace, we have our hearts and mind protected by that peace! Rejoice, thankfully pray to petition God, and your mind will be guarded with peace! That is good news folks!
We Must Practice What was Preached
When the circumstances of life become challenging, it is easy to become distracted. It is easy to let our minds fall prey to the world again and come out from under the protection of the Father. Because of this, Paul goes on to tell us how to continue to keep our mind focused and guarded with peace. "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things." If we keep our thoughts true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, thinking of nothing but excellent things, things that are worthy of praise, we will not have to be anxious or have depressing thoughts. These kind of thoughts guard your mind with peace!
But even knowing all of this, isn't enough. Paul completed the point with this final statement; "Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." Reading this isn't enough, knowing this isn't enough, we have to practice it, we have to actually do these things for them to become a reality.
Think on These Things
Let me close by sharing with you many scriptures that address depression. Some simply instruct us on what emotions we should or should not possess and others remind us that God has promised us peace, hope and joy. I think this verse sums it up well.
Matt 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (NIV)
Rom 8:15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." (NIV)
Heb 4:16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (NIV)
Eph 3:17-19 And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (NIV)
Matt 11:28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (NIV)
Rom 5:2-5 And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (NIV)
Prov 3:5-6 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (NIV)
1 Cor 2:11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. (NIV)
Ps 62:1 My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. 2 He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken... 5 Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. 6 He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. 7 My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. 8 Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. (NIV)
Other helpful sourcesReturn to the Word - Dr. Ed Bulkley Hosts a radio broadcast where they explain the sufficiency of God's Word and the errors of Psychology.
Why Christian's Can't Trust Psychology - Book by Dr. Ed Bulkley explaining why Christians should trust the Word of God, not the psychology of man.
Blame It On The Brain? - Viewing brain problems through the lens of Scripture, Edward T. Welch distinguishes genuine brain disorders from problems rooted in the heart.
Gateway Biblical Counseling Center - The Gateway Biblical Counseling & Ranting Center conducts training of qualified Christians in the area of Biblical counseling. Yearly conferences open to all.
Set Free From Depression - Read and Listen to the scriptural answers Bob George has to offer for how to have Victory Over Depression.
The Sufficiency of God's Word - Dave Hunt defends his stance on the sufficiency of God's Word in healing depression.
TBC Resources on Psychology - The Berean Call's Resources on Psychology related issues
Are personal and emotional problems diseases? - Read comments by professionals who reveal that there is no proven physical cause for depression.
ADHDFRAUD.COM - Exposing the Fraud of ADD and ADHD - The official website of Fred A. Baughman Jr., MD (Neurologist, Pediatric Neurology)
Victory Over Depression - By Bob George. Order his book online here.