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Mary Crowley's Journey of Faith - Part 2

Guest: Mary Crowley

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July 12, 2017

Freedom from Depression

Is anyone crying for help? God is listening, ready to rescue you. If your heart is broken, you'll find God right there; if you're kicked in the gut, he'll help you catch your breath. Disciples so often get into trouble; still, God is there every time.  

--Psalm 34:17-19 MSG 

Have you or someone you love ever battled depression? You’d be shocked at how many women have or currently are. If you answer yes to five of the nine symptoms below, and the symptoms last two weeks or more, you may want to read this very carefully. The good news is that you can overcome depression.

Have you had any of the following?

1. deep feelings of sadness.

2. a marked loss of interest or pleasure in activities you once enjoyed.

3. changes in appetite that result in weight losses or gains unrelated to dieting.

4. insomnia or oversleeping.

5. loss of energy or increased fatigue.

6. restlessness or irritability.

7. feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt.

8. difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making decisions.

9. thoughts of death or suicide or attempts at suicide. 1

Depression is all too common. It affects nearly one in ten adults each year and nearly twice as many women as men. An admission of depression once resulted in judgment and gossip, but it now often results in an affirmative head nod and understanding. Although the stigma surrounding depression is fading, the cases of it are not.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, depression can affect anyone. Several factors can play a role in the onset of depression:

Biochemistry. Abnormalities in two chemicals in the brain, serotonin and norepinephrine, might contribute to symptoms of depression, including anxiety, irritability and fatigue.

Genetics. Depression can run in families. For example, if one identical twin has depression, the other has a 70 percent chance of having the illness sometime in life.

Personality. People with low self-esteem who are easily overwhelmed by stress or who are generally pessimistic appear to be vulnerable to depression.

Environmental factors. Continuous exposure to violence, neglect, abuse, or poverty may make people who are already susceptible to depression all the more vulnerable to the illness.

Medical conditions. Illnesses such as a brain tumor or vitamin deficiency can also cause depression.
Postpartum Depression. Rapid changes in hormonal levels after pregnancy may prompt symptoms of depression.

Perhaps you wrestle with depression or have a loved one who does. Rather than being concerned about what other people will think if they find out, invest your energy wisely by seeking help and beginning the road to healing.

Some biblical characters seemingly suffered from depression, giving us insight and encouragement when we wrestle with it ourselves or help loved ones walk through what may be a short valley or a lifelong struggle. If you’ve been touched by it in some way (and most of us have, either through our own lives or the lives of loved ones), see what you can learn from the life experiences of these spiritual giants. Take time to read through these passages to discover how each of them battled depression.

Abraham (Genesis 15)
Jonah (Jonah 4)
Job (Job 38-42)
Elijah (1 Kings 19)
Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1; 9; 13)
David (Psalms 6; 13; 39, 42-43; 51; 55; 62; 69; 88; 116; 130; 142). 2

David lamented, “I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long….I am feeble and severely broken; I groan because of the turmoil of my heart” (Psalm 38: 6,8 NKJV). These aren’t the words of a carefree, happy-go-lucky man. Instead, they reflect a heavy heart, one that may have been suffering from symptoms of depression.

In addition to a heavy heart, those who struggle with depression may worry about their daily work and family commitments, their friends’ and families’ reaction if they find out, and the best way to address it.
Some people believe those who follow Christ shouldn’t, don’t, or won’t get depressed. But not one of us is immune; we are all susceptible. Those who hold to this misleading notion may in fact add to the burden for those who are depressed.

Dave Dravecky was a pitcher for the San Francisco Giants when he discovered a cancerous tumor in his pitching arm. His arm was amputated to stop the cancer from spreading. The journey from healthy and noted ball player to former ball player without an arm obviously was difficult. And though Dave’s wife, Jan, stood steadfastly by his side while he battled cancer, she began a battle of her own with panic attacks, anxiety, and depression.

Like others who have walked this path, she began an unplanned journey. She writes, “I had never known anyone who had experienced something like this, and as a committed Christian, I didn’t understand how this could be happening to me. Guilt engulfed me. I felt alone, confused, and scared. I needed a lifeline. I needed to be shown the way up and out.” 3

For some, the way up and out comes through the passage of time. For others, it includes therapy. Medication helps some. Others benefit from a combination of the three. Why depression happens matters less than what to do about it when it does happen.

If it has happened to you, get help. If it has happened to a loved one, join the journey by offering practical, emotional, and spiritual support. In either case, acknowledge that God can and does work though depression. You can gain new insights and deepen relationships. God can work in the midst of depression.

Life is difficult. It’s even more so through the eyes of one who’s depressed. The Bible offers hope:

We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:8-9 NKJV).

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

We may be hard pressed, but we are not crushed because the God of the universe is on our side.

1. “Let’s Talk Facts About Depression,” American Psychiatric Association. Available online at www.healthyminds.org/multimedia/depression.pdf

2. From Paul Taylor, “Are there biblical examples of depression and how to deal with it?” Eden Communications. Available online at www.christiananswers.net/q-eden/depression-bible.html.

3. “My journey into the valley of panic attacks, anxiety and depression.” Available online at www.outreachofhope.org/index.cfm/PageID362.

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