The Darkness of Depression and the Christian Response

In Advice and Encouragement, Single, Uncategorized by Debra Fileta

In my book Are You Really OK? I discuss the importance of being healthy spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically. Today, I want to specifically zoom in on depression. 

There is no darker place than the pit of depression. 

It’s a place of dreaded emotion and unrelenting despair.  It saps you of your hope, robs you of your joy, and steals your very desire to live.

It’s a dark cloud that perpetually looms overhead, giving no sign of  relief…no sign of the sun that shines above it.  After a while, you begin to forget that the sun even exists.

It has no favorites…and attacks when you least expect it.  It doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor, churched or unchurched, young or old.  It’s an illness that paralyzes your body, grieves your emotion, and breaks your spirit.

I know the wretched place of depression, because I’ve been there myself.  It’s a place I would never wish upon anyone.  It’s a place that I pray against each and every single day.

I am utterly grateful to say that I have been out of the terrible pit of depression for quite some time, but as I look around me, it’s something that so many people are battling on a regular basis. Battling in silence. And for some, battling, even to the point of death. It’s time for the Church to step up in our understanding and support of mental health issues within the body of Christ….

Before depression takes yet another life. 

It’s time for us to speak up, because the most dangerous thing about depression is that it’s typically a quiet illness that lends itself to suffering alone.

When cancer strikes we start Facebook pages, prayer lists, and support groups.  But when Depression rears its ugly head…we hide.  We pretend like it doesn’t exist.  We try to battle through it alone.  But it is exactly in those dark and lonely places that depression loves to feed, to grow, and to attack.  It breaks us down, especially when we try to battle it in isolation.

It’s a quiet illness because it comes with a blanket of shame.  It’s as though those who struggle with depression are some how less than.  Less healthy.  Less holy.  Less Christian.  Less courageous.  Less strong.

What a lie from the pit of hell.  I believe that some of the strongest people…are those who have faced the ugly monster of depression…yet keep…moving…forward.  It’s time to stop throwing out bible verses and offering prayers without actually providing practical help for those who are depressed. It’s like praying for a starving man without actually feeding him.  We as Christians need to start being the instruments of hope and healing for those who are struggling.  Sometimes all it takes is a listening ear, a hand to hold, a shoulder to cry on, or someone to talk to.  Sometimes, all it takes is someone to lead them toward getting some help.

In my practice as a professional counselor I have seen an alarming influx of client’s between the ages of 18-25 the past year, all struggling with the terrible illness of depression.  It doesn’t matter where you are at in life nor if you have the world ahead of you.  Depression can strike.  Christians and non-Christians alike, warding off the darkness and discouragement that is battling to take their minds, occupy their hearts, and suck dry their spirit.

Depression is a three-fold disease in that it attacks your body, your emotions, and your spirit.  It ruins your ability to sleep, to eat, to concentrate.  It fills your mind with terrible thoughts and hopeless feelings.  And at times,  it causes you to question God and in turn, your very desire to live.

But there is hope for those who are struggling.  With a combination of medication, counseling, community and God’s grace, there is the opportunity to find relief and even healing.

Sadly, and particularly among the churched, there seems to be a stigma of shame that comes with seeking out medication and therapy.   A person would never question a diabetic for seeking insulin, or someone with an infection seeking an antibiotic.  But for some reason, the illness of depression is categorized in a separate category.  And in that quiet, stigmatized, dark room of shame…it continues to capture and destroy one person at a time.

It’s time to get real about this terrible disease that is ravishing the lives of Christians, young adults, and men and women all over the country.  It’s time to seek help, offer hope, and join hands in battling this terrible illness.

It’s not too late to impact this generation.  It’s not too late to make some noise.  It’s not too late to fight for the lives that are ravaged by this terrible illness…and take them back.

It is only when things are brought into the light that they can be healed.  To those who are suffering in the pit of depression, remember: You are not alone in this.  You are no less of a person through this.  God will never leave you because of this.

On the Love + Relationships podcast, we are doing a new four-part series based on my book Are You Really OK? At the end of this series, we are offering a FREE ARE YOU REALLY OK? BOOK CLUB! All you have to do to join the book club is listen to the four parts, order a copy of Are You Really OK? and commit to working through it! Then, grab a ticket to join our Book Club on January 26th where I’ll be taking your questions and hearing your personal stories, and processing the book together with you!

Your mental health matters. Please refer to chapter 8 of my book Are You Really OK? on Anxiety, Depression and the Church.

Let’s work to shine truth and light in these dark places. 

*For more help, visit Faithful Counseling to find a counselor.  It’s time to stop suffering alone.

Debra is a Licensed Professional Counselor specializing in dating, marriage, and relationship issues, along with a spectrum of mental health disorders and issues. She’s the author of True Love DatesChoosing MarriageLove in Every SeasonAre You Really Ok?, and Married Sex. She’s also the host of the Love + Relationships Podcast, a hotline-style show where people call in to get their relationship questions answered!

Her popular relationship advice blog reaches millions of people each year with the message of healthy relationships! Connect with her on Instagram,  Facebook or Twitter!