Depression and the God of Hope – Part 1
Dr. Timothy Sumerlin - Denver, CO, USA •
Greetings! I would like to share for a few weeks on the topic of depression and how we can help each other with this challenging mental health disease. Many of us have either suffered from depression or have known someone who has.
Depression can present many difficulties in our relationships and also cause us to ask difficult questions of God. Where is He when I am struggling? Why does He allow this to happen to me? Hopefully, the next few weeks will answer these and other questions you may have.
Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. – Psalm 43:5 (NIV)
The depression rates in America are on the rise. Of course, all of us experience times of sadness and mood change. Sometimes these times are tied to life's challenges, losses, or other kinds of grief. This is normal and part of the human experience. God even uses depression in us to add "color and texture" to our world. Many song writers, artists, and actors have a melancholic personality and with the ability to access to their inner life, create beauty we all enjoy.
But, depression may overflow in our lives and social world and create havoc. We can become a shell of our former life due to depression. It can lead to dangerous results in our lives and must be taken seriously.
Here are a few stats on depression:
- Women are two times more likely to develop depression than men and about 1 in 10 people will experience depression during their lifetime.
- While anxiety presents often during adolescence, depression "waits" until the 20s and 30s.
- About half of those who suffer from depression, also have issues with anxiety.
Some of the symptoms you will find for depression are: people may have a depressed mood and a loss of interest or pleasure in things that formally brought joy. You may notice a significant weight change or diminished concentration at work. Some may struggle with sleep difficulties as well as a general sense of fatigue. Finally, many have feelings of worthlessness and possibly recurring thoughts of death. If these and other symptoms last for more than two weeks, please seek professional help.
The Christian may sometimes get confused and think depression is a sin. I've heard some give advice like, "just pray harder" or "what are you hiding?" Here is an article that addresses that myth. While sin may lead to struggles with mental health, do not assume it is always the case.
But God, who comforts the downcast...– 2 Corinthians 7:6
In Part 2, I will share some thoughts on how we can connect with God in our depression. Remember, you may not struggle with this, but there are most likely those in your church who do. You have the opportunity to become an answer for them, a resource to help. Learn all you can, initiate with the hurting, and pray for God to use you.