For years, especially as a young Christian, I was encouraged to deny the reality of clinical depression. I am not completely sure why, though I have some educated guesses, but we seemed to believe that clinical depressions was the result of a sinful choice that the depressed person made which could reversed simply by thinking better and more biblically. I now see this as totally bizarre nonsense.
With major depression, it may be difficult to work, study, sleep, eat, and enjoy friends and activities. Some people have clinical depression only once in their life, while others have it several times in a lifetime. Major depression seems to occur from one generation to the next in some families, but may affect people with no family history of the illness.
What Is Clinical Depression?
A good answer provided by WebMD says:
Most people feel sad or low at some point in their lives. But clinical depression is marked by a depressed mood most of the day, particularly in the morning, and a loss of interest in normal activities and relationships — symptoms that are present every day for at least 2 weeks. In addition, according to the DSM-IV — a manual used to diagnose mental health conditions — you may have other symptoms with major depression. Those symptoms might include:
- Fatigue or loss of energy almost every day.
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt almost every day.
- Impaired concentration, indecisiveness.
- Insomnia or hypersomnia (excessive sleeping) almost every day.
- Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in almost all activities nearly every day (called anhedonia, this symptom can be indicated by reports from significant others).
- Restlessness or feeling slowed down.
- Recurring thoughts of death or suicide.
- Significant weight loss or gain (a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month).
I went through a three-year struggle with clinical depression in 1987-1990. God graciously lifted me out of it with no medical intervention. I do not boast in this as I think it was pure mercy plus I should have done something, as my wife urged me at the time, so much sooner. I am now convinced that I could have been helped much sooner had I sought professional care, including good counsel and proper medication.
One of video resources that I often watch (I subscribe to these) is the TED Talks. Last week TED presented one by a young man who has suffered from clinical depression. It is genuinely worth your time to see this video if you have ever struggled, or know someone who has, with depression. You might be able to help someone just by seeing this video. It would be helpful if Christians stopped denying the reality of this illness, especially by their blaming the person for the illness.