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Gail in NY
04-17-2011, 08:35 PM
What do you think of people who say depression is a spiritual problem. I realize there are people who are depressed from circumstances beyond their control or even as a result of decisions they may have made ( say - a bad decisicon that lead to a failed business, loss of a house etc)

Some say it is a symptom of "stinkin thinkin" So what is the answer? Can it still be a chemical imbalance that leads to this type of thinking? I am not trying to offend anyone but I get tired of people who make everything so black and white. And then there are the people who suffer even more becasue the guilt of not being a "spiritually" minded chrstian plays on them. Sheesh - what a load to carry. I know people who are depressed and yes some of it is their own making, but I also know Godly christians who just needed a boost to get over the hump. Just looking for some feedback on this( controversial) topic.
I do not want to start a controversy - I am tired of the yo-yo effects of the thoughts surrounding this issue. Moderators please remove if this is inappropriate.

Rachel Jane
04-17-2011, 08:44 PM
My opinion is this: it doesn't matter if it is a result of a spiritual problem or a chemical imbalance. It needs to be dealt with so that the person can heal and get on with his/her life. Guilt for being depressed is in no way helpful to the person who is experiencing depression. Get medical help when needed and then deal with the reasons for depression if they are circumstantial.

Julie in AZ
04-17-2011, 10:14 PM
I think it's unfortunate that the word depression is used for two separate things.

It's a feeling as in, "I feel depressed because I gained weight" and it's a medical diagnosis. I understand the two overlap but many people do not understand the difference. For example, my bil told my dh when he was in the hospital for severe anxiety and depression to "just get over it". :sad:

And from experience, yes, those with a strong faith often suffer more when they are told it's a spiritual issue. :angry:

I have a lot of compassion for people who suffer with any kind of depression.

Nancy Ann
04-17-2011, 10:19 PM
I think most any problem we have is a spiritual. I think the words "spiritual problem" is the culprit. The definition of a spiritual problem that says "they don't have enough faith" or "not being a good enough Christian results in having problems" Is a load of baloney!!

However, Christians are spiritual people, we wake, live and sleep a spiritual life. So any problems we have are caused, diagnosed, endured or solved in a spiritual manner.

The "cause" part of that is tricky because sometimes things just happen to us. But always the way out is spiritual. Basically, I just mean to say that we cannot compartmentalize our spirituality, as Christians everything in our life is spiritual.

I don't mean to say that there is never a practical solution. Medication or reading a book or seeing a doctor is a practical solution but I consider it all spiritual as well. Anything and everything we do as a Christian is also spiritual.

We should never, ever tell a person that if they were more spiritually minded than they would not be depressed. Instead what we say is that God can help them through this. By spending more time with Him, He can help us deal with this. When we say it this way it sort of means the same thing but is much more accurate in my opinion. Because the latter is looking forward and the first way is dwelling in the past. It does not matter what the person did or did not do, what matters is that this is where they are now and the best thing to do is to look forward and grow closer to God. Praying for help and wisdom.

I struggle with depression and it is better to look forward than it is to dwell in the past about what could have caused this. It really doesn't matter. I have had a lot of problems in my past and it doesn't help to rehash it and it certainly would not help for someone to point out all my flaws and mistakes! What I need to do is live in the present, not the future or that past. I need to be thankful and pray.

Depression is very complicated and it is so different for everyone.

Carol S
04-17-2011, 10:54 PM
I think that our bodies, souls, and spirits are incredibly complex.

I think that sometimes a sin issue in our lives or minds can affect us to the point that we have a change in our bodies that leads to a state of depression that needs medical treatment.

Here's an example: When we first moved here 8 years ago, I was having a challenging time. I was definitely feeling the loneliness of being in a new place. We had moved so dh could have a better job, and so we had more income, a nicer home, beautiful surroundings. But I was not feeling happy. I feel like the Lord convicted me of ingratitude, and I truly believe that if I had not taken action to be actively grateful, that I would have slipped into some degree of a depressive state. I truly do believe that practicing gratitude turned it around, and yes, I do believe it's entirely possible that my way of thinking could have influenced the neurotransmitter soup that is involved in depression.

But, lest anyone with depression thinks I'm saying they got that way because they're ungrateful wretches, I by no means am saying, "I believe ingratitude is the cause of depression." I truly do think that it, or other ways of "stinking thinking" can influence our bodies, but I think that many other things can as well. But regardless of how it starts, if our body is no longer in balance, why in the world shouldn't it be treated? Nancy's right; it doesn't matter that much how it started. Once the condition exists, it has to be dealt with.

I know that may have sounded a little wacky, but I hope it made some sense.

Lord have mercy on those who suggest that depressed people ought to just be able to "get over it", lest they someday find themselves looking for help. I've never been in that dark, dark place, but I'm grateful to know there is help available if I ever am.

TonyaP
04-17-2011, 11:11 PM
I've seen a rapid response to medication that has confirmed for me that there is something physical happening to cause the condition. I think the problem arises when "depression" is used as a more broad term to describe a state of mind rather than the actual medical condition.

Nancy Ann
04-18-2011, 12:14 AM
I've seen a rapid response to medication that has confirmed for me that there is something physical happening to cause the condition. I think the problem arises when "depression" is used as a more broad term to describe a state of mind rather than the actual medical condition.

I think depression is very complicated. I suffer from depression but choose not to take medication for various reasons. I hold no judgement for those who do because there are physical factors as well. My sister who suffered from depression had a very extensive testing done at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester and the results were interesting. They could tell her body was not getting enough serotonin and were able to precisely prescribe how much she needed. Also they were able to see how her genes were pre disposed to this condition. I don't know all the details of the testing but I found it interesting that they could physically diagnose depression.

I just think depression is complicated and also very broad, it includes a state of mind and/or a physical condition.

Personally, I have not met anyone who was able to solve all their depression problems with only medication. I have only heard that it helps to make it easier. I have always thought that even with medication a person must still work on the "state of mind" part of it.

I agree with Carol about the gratitude part of depression. When dealing with the part that is not the physical part of depression, I find thankfulness to be a BIG help!! For me personally, thankfulness and also living in the moment and not the past or the future have been very big helps with dealing with depression. I am currently reading 1000 Gifts by Anna Voskamp and it addresses both these issues. I am finding it to be a MUST read for people struggling with depression!

Loree'
04-18-2011, 01:21 AM
My opinion is this: it doesn't matter if it is a result of a spiritual problem or a chemical imbalance. It needs to be dealt with so that the person can heal and get on with his/her life. Guilt for being depressed is in no way helpful to the person who is experiencing depression. Get medical help when needed and then deal with the reasons for depression if they are circumstantial.

ITA!!!!!

I suffered horribly from postpartum depression after each of the boys. It was so bad after A that I have approx 3-4 months that i don't even remember. One thing I do remember though is our pastor's wife (at the time) telling me that if I would just pray more that it would make the devil so mad that he'd stop waking the baby up, allowing me more sleep, which would in turn make me feel better. :eek: What? That should have been a signal to run as fast as we could from that "church"!

Kendra AU
04-18-2011, 03:58 AM
:group: I was reading a book recently {biblical} that considered depression a spiritual battle. Knowing too many people that suffer with a medically diagnosed depression it just irritated me. It's like being told that your headaches are "just in your head" .. uh, yeah they are and they still hurt. :lol:

Sheri
04-18-2011, 05:38 AM
You are probably going ot hit me for this but it IS "stinkin' thinkin'"...only the stinkin' brain won't let the stinkin' thinkin' stop no matter how much you want it to. Anyone who says depression is because of lack of faith, etc. has never been tested in such a heavy duty way.

BethInOK
04-18-2011, 07:04 AM
When my dh was diagnosed with depression, the idea of having to take medication made him even more depressed. He didn't like the fact that he needed a drug to make him feel like himself. A very wise friend of mine suggested telling him something that I found really helped (him and me both!) My friend is diabetic. Its not something she did wrong, its just, plain and simple, her body does not make the right chemical correctly. Its the same thing with the brain.. some bodies do not make or don't process the chemicals correctly.

Laura F
04-18-2011, 07:20 AM
What do you think of people who say depression is a spiritual problem. I realize there are people who are depressed from circumstances beyond their control or even as a result of decisions they may have made ( say - a bad decisicon that lead to a failed business, loss of a house etc)


I just wanted to add that anyone who says this has never struggled with true depression. The same goes for anxiety. Until you truly understand what it is, you just don't know. Throwing Bible verses at people struggling with clinical depression and severe anxiety does not make the problems go away.

Heather W
04-18-2011, 07:46 AM
I would just add that there is a difference between short term and long term/clinical depression as well. I'm not an expert, but I have certainly experience short-term bouts of depression- more like what Carol talked about.

They are usually event related. Postpartum is a great example along with moves, job loss, etc. They can last for weeks at a time. I had a moderate case of baby-blues that would lift after about 3 or 4 weeks after baby arrived.

I had two more significant times when we moved to NY and the weeks leading up to my last surgery- which I did not want.

BUT you come out of it. It is temporary. It is an event related intense time that you begin to adjust to. And like Carol suggests may be the result of just not thinking positively about the situation.

I think there's a huge difference between those short term depressions (which is really what they are) and a more clinical situation. Clinical depression is long term, chemically induced, and doesn't just "turn around" like Sheri is saying. It's biochemical and needs treatment.

So....there are varying degrees of depression and a different diagnosis. I think when you have an event related issue that does not pass, you need to start thinking differently about your treatment.

Spiritual issue...while a person is surely under attack (and by that I only mean that satan knows our weaknesses and seeks to exploit them whenever possible because that is what that guy does), I would not say the resolution is to be "more spiritual" or that we've done anything other than to be human. What afflicts one may not afflict the next, but we all have something because we live in a fallen world.

I have a limited experience with depression so this is just my .02 worth...

Rachel Jane
04-18-2011, 07:58 AM
Along with what Heather and a few others are saying...

Sometimes an event will trigger a biochemical response and throw a person into clinical depression. When studying Lupus and other auto-immune diseases, I found that one thing people have in common is that the year before it showed up, there was a significant trauma in that persons life, whether it be a car accident or loss of a child. We are all giant bags of chemicals. If the switch isn't flipped, then that particular chemistry stays even, but if something flips that switch, then something needs to be done to get those chemicals back on an even keel.

Sheri
04-18-2011, 08:27 AM
Yes, trauma is definite.

I think we can have depression and I think we can work pretty hard to fight it off but there is usually a something that happens that throws everything totally off kilter and you cannot regain your balance.

For me I am sure it was my FIL's death, although I didn't really "mourn" him in a typical sense, I believe it had a lot to do with all of this.

Sheri
04-18-2011, 08:29 AM
I think there's a huge difference between those short term depressions (which is really what they are) and a more clinical situation. Clinical depression is long term, chemically induced, and doesn't just "turn around" like Sheri is saying. It's biochemical and needs treatment.

I have a limited experience with depression so this is just my .02 worth...

Okay, I went through this with Alice the other day and I am trying to be real about it. I misunderstand things and have to clarify before my brain goes crazy thinking something wrong. You didn't think I meant it can just turn around right? I can see that sentence going either way and sigh...I just need to clarify.

(And there's another depression thing: insecurity)

Heather W
04-18-2011, 10:12 AM
Okay, I went through this with Alice the other day and I am trying to be real about it. I misunderstand things and have to clarify before my brain goes crazy thinking something wrong. You didn't think I meant it can just turn around right? I can see that sentence going either way and sigh...I just need to clarify.

(And there's another depression thing: insecurity)

NO! I don't...I DO think short term depressions do not always turn into long term clinical type depressions. So, in that sense yes...IF there isn't an imbalance I do think it will turn around as we adjust.

I think that sometimes an event will trigger a longer term imbalance as well.

What I want to really say is that we are not always in charge of our how our biochemistry responds. Similarly to what I've read from Carol before, some of us will rebound and some of us will lose that balance and require medication to bring the chemistry back into the safe zone.



Oh I see what you were aiming at..."like Sheri was saying" was in reference to you saying that you can't just turn it around! So in agreement with you. Sorry for the poor wording!

Sheri
04-18-2011, 10:16 AM
Heather, it's really not your fault and no need to apologize. My brain is crazy lately and I take everything wrong, I am working on being very very clear about things and clarifying them before I let it go crazy.

Stacy A.
04-18-2011, 10:16 AM
I'm normally just a lurker, but this thread hits close to home with me.

I was diagnosed with depression and was on anti-depressants for 7 years. While the meds helped with things like crying all the time or sadness, they did nothing for my fatigue. The fatigue was so bad that I ended up having to drop out of college because I couldn't physically get myself out of bed.

Finally, after years of meds, counseling, and blood tests, I read about sleep apnea. I was tested and started treatment. Two weeks later, I was able to go off my anti-depressants and felt like a new person! I was myself again.

My depression obviously had roots in the physical, not spiritual. Sleep deprivation caused the depression. When the sleep deprivation was treated, the depression went away. However, there was a spiritual aspect to it, as well. But the spiritual problems (feeling like a failure and "How can God love me," etc.) were effects, not causes.

When it comes to depression, cause and effect are often misinterpreted. Just like, for years, my doctors tried to treat my depression in order to fix my fatigue rather than treating the fatigue to fix the depression (did I confuse your?;)), many people focus on the spiritual when they should focus on the the physical first or vice versa.

Generally, both need to be looked at, but neither should be dismissed out of hand as the cause.

Heather W
04-18-2011, 10:48 AM
Heather, it's really not your fault and no need to apologize. My brain is crazy lately and I take everything wrong, I am working on being very very clear about things and clarifying them before I let it go crazy.

No, it's really ok Sheri. I can really see the easy misinterpretation there. I think the clarifying is great!

Nancy Ann
04-18-2011, 12:38 PM
It sounds like with what everyone is saying that depression is a wide term that has many different causes and many different solutions. The problem seems to come when people want to simplify it or want to categorize ALL depression as one type and therefore it has only one solution for it.

There is one truth to all of this and that is that since God knows how many hairs are on our head, He also knows what is causing our depression and so He is the best one to ask for how to find a solution. So, we have to trust in Him that He will send the right people, medication, books etc....to us.

Rachael
04-18-2011, 01:21 PM
What do you think of people who say depression is a spiritual problem. I realize there are people who are depressed from circumstances beyond their control or even as a result of decisions they may have made ( say - a bad decisicon that lead to a failed business, loss of a house etc)



:( What do I think? I think it's a mean thing to say.

Who is anyone to say what the cause of MY depression is? Right, I must be a bad person spiritually, yep. Yeah, that makes me feel better. Unless you've seen my soul, you don't know. Unless you've seen my brain scans and blood work, you don't know.

I wonder what that person's motivation in saying that is. They surely can't believe it's helpful to the depressed person, can they? :unsure:

But that may just be my spiritual problem talking. ;) :lol:

Debbie W
04-18-2011, 01:32 PM
I think the very fact that we are spiritual beings having a human experience instead of the other way around sometimes makes things hard. I also think we don't extend compassion and grace as often as we should or even as often as we have the opportunity.

I think society has put their own spin on depression and it's made it easier through the years to talk about, but it's still not something easily talked about with everyone.

I also think that the person themselves and their family dynamic, their past history and health and their faith or lack of it can make it harder to accept that one is depressed and admit it.

I've also seen people who were their own worst enemy seemingly, but I don't know what they have suffered in life that got them there. Maybe it was a horrible trauma in early childhood or as a teen, the loss of a child, natural disaster, major health problems, financial set back, suicide of a family member etc.

I do know grief is different for everyone and the length of the grieving process isn't cut and dried. For one person it maybe take years and for another they can process it in a year and a half. I think depression is very much the same way.

I also think people tend to want to shy away from the suffering depression brings, the areas it effects for the person going through it and the family members. Everything from financial concerns to s*x*al problems for the family or the couple or the person themselves. Things like anger toward the person suffering because the family wants the life back they used to have.

The hidden fears such as will I be like mom or dad or grandma and suffer in this way. It doesn't matter whether it is spiritual or physical it's not something one just snaps out of of their own free will.

I personally think getting help and prayer go hand in hand in this matter. I think understanding and compassion are essential. Someone struggling to the top to breath after being under depression for a time doesn't need guilt heaped upon them. They need someone to be empathetic and just in the water if need be and come along side them until they get their feet back under them.

I can imagine the fear of abandonment is pretty strong. Anyway that's my take on things.

Steve Lambert
04-18-2011, 03:50 PM
I've been watching this thread before I jumped in. I just wanted to see what others had to say.

And in general, I think we've all pretty well nailed it. :yes:

In short, I think there can be MANY causes in varying degrees which result in a variety of types, intensities and lengths of depression.

When I suggest that someone get counseling or seek help I have in mind someone who covers ALL the bases...

I want someone with medical knowledge and access to medical testing and the ability to write prescriptions.

AND...

I want someone who can deal with the emotional side, including either being able to counsel or having access to someone who can counsel well.

AND...

I want someone who believes in prayer and knows how to pray. I want someone who isn't afraid to attack the spiritual side of affliction.

And no, I don't think depression is the result of spiritual oppression or lack of faith, etc. BUT I DO think that there can be a spiritual side to affliction and I'd like to have someone in my corner who isn't afraid to pray boldly.

TOGETHER I think those three disciplines can handle about 99% of all "depression" situations. Some combination of counseling, prayer and medication can usually solve a problem.

Blessings,

Steve