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Dealing With Depression

Dr. John Woodward


“I am trapped in my own thoughts. I am a prisoner of my own brain. Today has been very emotional for me. Very bittersweet today. I can’t seem to breathe. I have been sighing all day to get a little relief. My chest feels like its gonna explode. My feelings are holding me hostage and I don’t know how much more I can take. Does anyone out there ever have these days? HELP!!!! I feel so confused.”

This plea for relief from depression was posted on the internet. The medical community would interpret this as an illness needing medication; the psychotherapeutic community would interpret this mental/emotional problem as a need for self-help and improved coping skills.

Whereas some cases of depression may have a biological component, and life skills could be beneficial, the key issue is an accurate diagnosis. What is the root cause?

Life isn’t intended to be successful and joyful apart from a vital relationship with our Redeemer. The symptoms of sadness and despondency should prompt the believer to turn his/her attention to God. Most of us have times when we echo the sadness of this psalm,

“Why are you cast down, O my soul?

And why are you disquieted within me?” (Psalm 42:5a)

For the person who is lost, this is a cry to be found. Saul of Tarsus was found by the risen Christ:

“…I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ, and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection…” (Phil. 3:8-10).

For the discouraged disciple, depressive symptoms are a summons to wholehearted surrender (Rom. 12:1,2) and personal identification with Christ:

“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory” (Col. 3