Is. It. Real?
Raising Awareness for Depression
Is depression real? Just asking this question will stir up strong emotions in the hearts of many who will read this post. If you will give me a chance, over the next several weeks I would like to share my heart on this matter. My goal with this first post is not to answer all the questions concerning depression or to provide a cure for depression. I believe that I can help with this matter, but first I hope to spend this time to raise a little awareness.
Let us start with awareness…
Among the authorities
Depression is defined by Webster as “a sinking of the spirits; dejection; a state of sadness; want of courage or animation.” Modern psychiatry offers the following: “Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. ... Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed.”(1) Webmd states that clinical depression is “when intense sadness -- including feeling helpless, hopeless, and worthless -- lasts for many days to weeks and keeps you from living your life.”(2) Also, simply put by Wikipedia, depression is “a state of low mood and aversion to activity.”(3) Finally, the Bible uses the terms “sorrow of heart,” “sorrow of mind,” “worldly sorrow,” “overmuch sorrow,” “heaviness,” or “careful” when speaking of depression.
Now let us look at awareness…
Among young people
According to cbn.com, 9 out of 10 adolescents have periods of depression that last at least two weeks and often go untreated and ignored. Crosswalk.com stated that "the rate of teenage depression is at an all time high. ... the general incidence of suicide ... has tripled among young people ages 15 to 24." They go on to state that the "causes of depression and anxiety can range from a genetic predisposition to a variety of illnesses. And, a pop culture filled with empty messages of 'love em and leave em', a devaluation of human life, the fact that 40 percent of children live in a broken home and an emphasis on materialism is enough to make even the healthiest child wonder if his/her life really matters." We cannot bury our heads in the sand. This is a real problem in the lives of those who need us the most, our youth.
See also awareness…
Among leaders in faith & history
In the Christian headlines of late, we are seeing a regular stream of church leaders who are struggling with depression and even many who are attempting suicide as a release from the enormous weight that depression has caused. Is this new? I say not. Leaders of the past have suffered from this condition as well. It was said that Spurgeon was never the same following a great tragedy where, at his church, seven were killed and many others were wounded. His wife, Susannah, wrote, “My beloved’s anguish was so deep and violent, that reason seemed to totter in her throne, and we sometimes feared that he would never preach again.” Later, it would be physical ailments that added to his bouts of depression.(4) The following has been said about Lincoln: “Lincoln resorted to humor when he needed to resolve the gloom. Aware that his storytelling and joking were essential to his mental balance. He once told his law partner Herndon "if it were not for these stories-jokes-jests I should die: they give vent-are the vents of my moods and gloom."(5) We will talk at a later time about how these men were able to cope with their symptoms.
Among the hero’s of the Scripture
In the pages of Scripture we see some of the great men of the Bible, battling with sorrow, wishing they had never been born! Elijah, after a great victory on Mt. Carmel, runs from Jezebel and wishes for God to kill him.(6) Job, during his great trial and the accusations of his friends, wishes that he had died at birth.(7) David went through many ups and downs in his ascent to the throne and his sin with Bathsheba. Many of the prophets were severely distressed as they endured persecution and the testing of God for His people. Even Paul experienced much “heaviness of heart” in his yearning for Israel to accept Christ.(8) There is much to be learned from the Word of God that can help us combat this epidemic, but we will save that for another post.
Do you, or someone you know have prolonged periods of sadness? If so, I think that you could answer our opening question affirmatively. Depression is real. It affects people all around us, people from all races and genders, people from all walks of life. Let us be active in the conversation and learn more about this great plague of the mind that is stifling the growth of our loved ones. Let us be ready with an answer and available to support those who need us. Truly, it could be any of us that need the help tomorrow.
(6) 1 Kings 19:1-4
(7) Job 3:11,12
(8) Romans 9:1-5