Spiritual Causes of Depression; others’ sin, my sin, part of living sin-fractured world.
‘We can love without knowing the exact cause’.
Is Depression Sinful?
Is Depression Spiritual?
Q1: How does Talk 1&2 shape how one struggles with depression?
Talk 1: It helps to find words to express my experience i.e. to go beyond settling with the clinical label depression. Finding words from depressed Christian can be particularly helpful as they furnish us with biblical categories like darkness and hopelessness, to help me express my struggle. It also helps me to see that God addresses me in my troubles as I read the Psalms and see these categories there.
Talk 1: It helps to hear other Christians experiencing and articulating what I’m also going through, that I am not alone in this. Their struggles resemble mine. It helps remove some of the inner thoughts like ‘Why can’t I snap out of it’ or ‘I am ashamed to be the kid of person who couldn’t be happy’. ‘
Talk 1: Seeing how depression entangles with my spiritual life helps me be aware that it is emotionally and physically more challenging for me to do what I usually do – read God’s word, pray, and fellowship. Being aware, I don’t self-blame but ask for help from God and accept help from His people. I am also open to medication (if advised by doctors) to put me in a better place to deal with God better.
Talk 2: Given that the consequence of sin is complex, causing depression to being multi-factorial (biochemical, genetic, psychological, situational), I need not be obsessed about finding THE root cause of my depression. There could be ‘multiple streams flowing into my depression’ and reflecting on each over time (not with the aim of hunting my depression root cause), as part of my sanctification process is a good thing to do.
Talk 2: Given that depression offers me opportunity to work on my other heart issues, I can consider taking medication (if advised) to put me in a better place to deal with these issues and with God.
Q2: How does Talk 1&2 shape how you love the depressed? What are some of the Dos & Don’ts?
Talk 1: Don’t assume but be humble to ask and learn what is it like to be depressed. Aim for compassion and empathy.
Talk 1: Don’t be glib e.g. ‘I know exactly how that feels’ or ‘that’s nothing compared to…’ Instead, listen, listen, listen.
Talk 1: Empathy (feel with) not sympathy (feel for) the person.
Talk 1: Spiritual giants feel depressed too. Don’t feel spiritually superior when approaching the depressed. Empathise.
Talk 1: Just be there; presence is a great form of comfort. Honest silence is ok: ‘wow, that’s hard I don’t know what to say’
Talk 1: Don’t remind them to pray; but pray for and with them.
Talk 1: Seeing how depression entangles with their spiritual life helps me consider ways to help them in their struggle to attend CG or church e.g. let me give you a lift or meet up with you to go together. Left to yourself you probably won’t go.
Talk 2: I wouldn’t stop loving and encouraging, even though I don’t know the cause of their depression. And I won’t be obsessed with hunting for the root cause of their depression in my attempt to care and love them.
Talk 2: Given that depression is multi-factorial, my approach o medication will NOT be: i) “you won’t need medication if only you are more godly and trust God” ii) “just take medication since it will fix you”
Talk 2: The heart is exposed more vividly when we suffer. The exposed idols may not be the causes of depression, but they are opportunities for spiritual growth. Talk and pray about them.