Depression: Physical and Spiritual Perspectives

Major Depression is a state of sadness and apathy which lasts at least two weeks, and typically longer, and is severe enough to interfere with daily life.  In order to have the diagnosis of major depression, five of the following must be present:

(1) depressed mood

(2) markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day

(3) significant weight loss weight gain

(4) insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day

(5) psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day

(6) fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day

(7) feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt

(8) diminished ability to think or concentrate

(9) recurrent thoughts of death  and suicide

A medical doctor can make the diagnosis after a careful physical and mental status exam.

These are the physical and emotional aspects of depression and a way for us to diagnose it.

What about the spiritual aspects?

I ask this question because to this day we only have THEORIES with respect to the pathophysiology of depression.  There is no concrete lab test, neurodiagnostic test, imaging test, or any other type of medical test accepted into standard practice TODAY which can diagnose depression.

There is not any palpable, measurable physical test accepted as standard to help with this problem…

Could it be that this particular psychiatric disturbance has a spiritual cause?

I do not endorse the idea that every illness is caused by an evil spirit.  Most of the diseases we are facing whether genetic, infectious, or others, are based in our broken bodies, a brokeness we have carried with us since our fall in the garden of Eden.

But in the case of depression (and other psychiatric disorders) something dark is at work.  In medicine we theorize about neurotransmitter imbalances and impaired synaptic transmission; and we have developed drugs to flood brain synapses with these deficient neurotransmitters with some success in treatment.

But the emotional and spiritual darkness associated with depression raises the possibility of demonic influence over the victims of depression.

This explanation will not be found in the DSM-V, the diagnostic manual for psych disorders.

But the Bible gives us some clues.

The absence of the fruit of the Spirit from one’s life may lead to a state of depression.  Galatians 5 gives us the list of the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace…

Without the fruit of the Spirit in one’s life, it could be that the person may not have the Holy Spirit and His power of regeneration.  We can make this judgement based on the evidence at hand since we cannot know for sure what is in that person’s heart.

The absence of joy and peace are mainstay characteristics of depression.  The absence of the fruit of the Spirit could indicate the absence of the Holy Spirit.

This is key to the demonic influence over the persistent emotional state in the setting of major depression.

Christians are not immune to doubts, trials, illness, even feeling down.  But losing hope and losing the fruit of the Spirit in a persistent depression brings into question the presence of the work of the Holy Spirit in their life.

The Holy Spirit is our Intercessor, the One who stands in the gap for us, based on Romans 8, and as His subjects we must appeal to Him when we are down.

Depression must be fought against “by the Spirit.”

Christians have an eternal hope they cannot lose.  They should not persist in a state of depression.

Psalms 42:11 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

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16 comments on “Depression: Physical and Spiritual Perspectives

    • Cristina, welcome here as a comentator, indeed a Christian is not meant to persist in depression as he or she is not meant to persist in sin. The Holy Spirit will not let us in such a dark place, He will lift us out.

  1. So I guess a guy like Spurgeon( suffered with depression for most of his life) didn’t have the fruit of the spirit..or was demon possessed …hmmm

    • They say that when Spurgeon preached in open air you could hear him from a mile away… Without amplification….

      That does not sound like a guy in major depression. I don’t know Gabi if you have ever seen a person diagnosed with major depression. When you see that person you will say WOW. You will shake your head and say WOW again.

      There are affective disorders and even seasonal affective disorders where people feel down, etc.

      That is not what we are talking about here…. We are talking about major depression which is a terrible diagnosis.

      When the kids don’t listen to you or the pastor doesn’t use you to preach and you feel down, that is not depression!

      Major depression is more than just neurotransmitters out of whack…

  2. . if spurgeon’s was mild or not we don’t know…..based on the culture back than if it was mention in his biography I tend to believe it was rather severe….but you can have a patient with a mild case of depression and the doctor prescribes him some meds that would take him to suicides…who is at fault there? What’s the difference with another patient that takes meds for a regular disease that a side effect will bring him death?

    • I don’t contest he may have had episodes. But a patient in major depression will have trouble putting sentences together, much less preach from the bottom of his lungs!

      On the suicide thing, I don’t want to make excuses for it. There seems to be an association with some meds.

      Can you imagine at the White Throne using that as an excuse? “I’m not responsible…. It was the antidepressant”

  3. “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression,
    But a good word makes it glad.
    Proverbs 12:25

    I think that Solomon saw just how simple the pathology is. Prolonged anxiety will paralyze a person’s mind from being able to enjoy life and eventually the brain fights back by shutting down.

    I will mention that if a Christian doesn’t keep the Bible close to his heart to obey it, he/she opens up the door for other cares & worries to take its place.

    Be blessed!

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