Depression is not a spiritual problem

Man.Mirror

In Divine Nobodies there is a chapter in which I share about my journey with depression. Perhaps no chapter in any book I’ve written has resulted in more response. I have a file folder filled with emails from people who wrote me about their own struggle with depression. In many cases the story involved feeling shame at church or given pat spiritual answers on how to remedy it. In my latest book, Notes from (Over) the Edge, I devote an entire chapter to addressing depression and spirituality.

According to the World Health Organization:
1. Depression is a common mental disorder.
2. Globally, more than 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression.
3. Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide.
4. More women are affected by depression than men.
5. At its worst, depression can lead to suicide.
6. There are effective treatments for depression.

According to the Centers of Disease control:
1. 1 in every 10 Americans suffer from depression.
2. The number of people who are diagnosed with depression increases 20% each year.
3. People who have major depressive disorder are the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for ages 15 – 44.
4. 60% – 80% of depression can be treated with medication and psychotherapy.
5. 80% of people are not being treated who have depression.

How depression feels as described by some:

“I’m tired of trying, sick of crying, I know I’ve been smiling, but inside I’m dying.”

“Maybe one day it will be okay again. That’s all I want. I don’t care what it takes. I just want to be okay again.”

“I guess there comes a point where you just have to stop trying because it hurts too much to hold on anymore.”

“How can you understand me when I can’t understand myself?”

“What do you do when you become too scared, too scared to live, to scared to die, too scared to love, too scared to even care.”

“I’m often silent when I am screaming inside.”

“No more joy. No more sadness. No emotion. Only madness. I can’t see. I don’t feel. I can’t touch. I don’t heal.”

“It’s an interesting feeling, really, to scroll through all the numbers in your phone, and realize that there is no one who will understand.”

“Someday I’ll fly away.”

“Do you ever lay in bed at night hoping you wake up in the emergency room and hear the words, “she’s not going to make it.”

“How can you hide from what never goes away?”

“I’m freezing, I’m starving, I’m bleeding to death, Everything’s Fine.”

Major depression is a common and treatable mental disorder. If you or someone you love struggles with depression, it’s important to seek out help. You can begin exploring how to get help at this site -> http://www.helpguide.org/mental/depression_signs_types_diagnosis_treatment.htm

Every human being is born out of the image, likeness and being of God. The image likeness and being of God is the underlying, unchanging and fundamental essence of who you are. That You cannot be improved upon or diminished, and is never threatened. You were also given a mind and body for the human journey. That mind and body is impacted and conditioned through a lifetime of experiences, circumstances, situations, conditions, relationships, and choices. We all are impacted and conditioned by many things that are outside our control.

If you cut your hand open, you would go to the hospital or doctor for stitches and not think twice about it. But too often people put mental disorders in a different category and choose not to seek professional help. I wish I could convince people that there is no difference between slicing your hand open, breaking your leg, high blood pressure, reflux, allergies, and depression. What I mean by saying there is no difference is that they all are a condition of the mind and body and to do what the situation requires in each case is to seek professional help and treatment.

Of course, our attitudes and ways of being in life have an overall impact on our lives as a whole. For example, we know that stress, lack of self-care, or any destructive habits in our lives, can be detrimental to our physical and mental health. But having said that, please realize that the notion that reading the Bible more, positive thinking, having correct beliefs, trying harder, lifestyle changes, or spiritual enlightenment is a solution to depression is erroneous thinking. Would they be the solution to a sliced hand, broken leg, high blood pressure or allergies? Of course not. Same with depression.

Let me be as clear as possible. Depression is not a “spiritual problem” or a sign that you are somehow failing God. Our life is our spiritual path, and we live it by responding to situation as they require. For some, that situation requires you seeking professional support for depression. That is spiritual enlightenment! It’s not being attached to false ideas about depression, and simply doing what the situation requires and seeking the help you need.

80% of people are not being treated who have depression. Don’t be part of that statistic! I wrote a chapter in Divine Nobodies about my struggle with depression, and it’s still the chapter in that book that people most write me about.

Latest Comments

  1. Cheryel Lemley-McRoy says:

    How can I post this on Facebook?

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