I have been thinking a lot about depression the past week or two. My Straw Man blogs were mostly reactionary so I’ve been evaluating them since they were posted, and thinking further on the subject. I am always open to feedback, especially if you see it differently. I am certainly still learning.
As an addendum to those blogs, I would like to add the following thought . . . Depression is not one of those problems that can be traced back to one type of cause. Depression can have roots in emotional, cognitive, physical, biological, social and spiritual areas of life. It may often include many or all of these aspects both in cause and in symptom, and they each impact one another, not usually in an organized linear way, but often more like an organic system. I think that one’s beliefs are a large player in that system and how it evolves before, during and after the period of depression.
A way I would like to cautiously bridge the gap between myself and Jay Adams is to reiterate that depression is sometimes related to or caused by personal sin. Not always, but sometimes. I believe finding oneself in a state of hopelessness may be an indicator that one’s hopes may have been misplaced before the depression even started. It may fall into the category of what the Bible calls idolatry, or often more specifically (if hopes are placed in people and what they think) it may be called the fear of man. It is so easy and natural to shift our identity and hope off the solid foundation of Christ and onto other people or things. Its often gradual, and we may not even notice it’s happening in our hearts.
This is just one example of how sin can precipitate an encounter with clinical depression, but there are many. Here is my point of the whole thing: Depression is most of the time very complex. It is not readily submissive to a “cure” which is based on a simple cause and effect assumption. Not to mention it is often counterproductive to approach someone with any sort of judgment or critique during this difficult time.
One who is wading through the dark waters of depression needs a caring, empathetic, loving person who will listen and walk with them on the journey, delicately and wisely identifying truth along the way. Sometimes medicine is helpful to take the edge off the hopelessness. Often support groups may also be helpful. Although it is difficult, family, friends, ministers and counselors need to love this person as they themselves would want to be loved, pleading with God on their behalf, and be patient.