Misconception: Depression Will Go Away If You Pray Hard Enough Or Have Enough Faith
Reality: Depression usually needs to be treated with more than prayer.
Again, depression is a serious illness. As with any illness, someone with depression should seek professional medical treatment. While God is capable of divinely healing mental or physical illness, He does not always intervene in that way. He provides other ways to heal. God gave people like doctors and mental health professionals the understanding and skills to help those who are suffering.
Because chronic stress and trauma can cause physical and chemical changes in the body and brain, they can trigger or worsen depression. Therapy or counseling can be a crucial part of treatment for many people suffering from depression. Being able to process trauma and come up with strategies to reduce stressors and cope with difficulties can help people heal from depression.
Though there is often an environmental and emotional component to depression, the underlying issue is usually biological. This is one reason two people may be going through the same or similar situations and one may develop depression while the other does not. Depression, as with all things involving the brain, is complex, and not even the most advanced researchers fully understand exactly what causes it.
There is no shame in needing medication for depression if you are a Christian.
A Bruised Reed He Will Not Break
a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench he will faithfully bring forth justice .
A bruised reed is one that that is on the verge of breaking, and a faintly burning wick is a flame that is almost entirely extinguished. Thats a very apt description of depression. You feel as though youre about to be completely broken or totally extinguished.
And though others may judge you because they dont understand what youre experiencing, God most certainly does not.
But doesnt break bruised reeds or blow out flames that are sputtering and smoking. Rather, he nurtures them and heals them and brings them back to life. God doesnt despise you in your bruised, broken, smoldering state. Rather, he is near to you, nurturing you and sustaining you.
Moses Was Grieved Over The Sin Of His People
In his feelings of anger and betrayal from his own people, Moses, as a leader, was about ready to quit. He came down from his mountaintop experience with God, commandments in hand, only to find the Israelites in complete chaos and sin. His heart-cry to God on their behalf was desperate:
But now, please forgive their sin but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written. Exodus 32:32
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Promises From The Lord
All of these Bible verses for anxiety and worry can be weapons to fight off these enemies when you are tempted. Stand fast on these promises from the Lord and no situation will be able to cause you to come out of rest, no matter how much you are tempted. Even if it takes a long time for the situation to be sorted out. Even if the end result is not what you had hoped for.
Stop Pretending Youre Happy When Youre Not
Quartz writer Susanna Cornelius, in her article Being told to feel happy is making us miserable details the destructive effects of trying to abide by the social pressures that make us feel like we need to feel happy, all the time:
Depression rates are higher in countries that place a premium on happiness, says social psychologist Brock Bastian. Rather than being the by-product of a life well-lived, feeling happy has become a goal in itself.
Smiling faces beam at us from social media and happiness gurus flog their latest emotional quick fixes, reinforcing the message that we should aim to maximize our positive emotions and avoid our negative ones.
Susanna Cornelius, Quartz
Happiness as a goal is a fallacy, and is at odds with how the Bible describes the path to calmness and joy. Instead of forcing ourselves to smile, God wants us to be honest with everything going on inside of us the good, bad and the ugly.
Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! 2Yes, what joy for those whose record the LORD has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!
It may feel counterintuitive to us who live in this culture of consumption, but taking the time to identify our sins so we can experience mercy from God is the only true way to lasting happiness. Guilt is an incredible amplifier of anxiety clearing it up will pave the way to joy and de-stressing.
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What The Bible Says
Concern about past misdeeds: Before becoming Christians, some people in the first century were drunkards, extortioners, sexually immoral, and thieves. Rather than dwell on their past, they changed their ways and trusted in Gods great mercy, which he extends willingly. With you there is true forgiveness, so that you may be held in awe, says Psalm 130:4.
Uncertainty about tomorrow: Never be anxious about the next day, said Jesus Christ, for the next day will have its own anxieties. His point? Address todays concerns. Do not compound them by bringing tomorrows forward, which can cloud judgment and lead to rash decisions. Also keep in mind that many anxieties may later prove to be unwarranted.
Money worries: A wise man once prayed: Give me neither poverty nor riches. Instead, he sought contentmenta feeling that merits Gods approval. At Hebrews 13:5, we read: Let your way of life be free of the love of money, while you are content with the present things. For has said: I will never leave you, and I will never abandon you. Unlike money, which canand doesfail, God never fails those who trust in him and lead a simple life.
I have not seen anyone righteous abandoned, nor his children looking for bread.
Facing Depression As A Christian: Beware These Misconceptions
Not only can depression make you question God or feel distant from Him, but it can also make navigating Christian community more difficult. Depression can be even more challenging for Christians because, unfortunately, there are misconceptions and stigmas associated with depression in many Christian communities.
When you or the people around you do not understand the reality of depression, it makes seeking help more difficult. Depression can already distort your perception of reality or make you doubt your judgment. Its crucial to be able to recognize what is and is not true about depression.
Many well-meaning people may actually give you bad advice because they dont understand depression.
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Lie: I Am A Bad Christian Because I Struggle With Mental Illness
To break this distortion, lets point out some flaws in the logic of this lie: I am a bad Christian because I have depression.
Cognitive distortions are thoughts or beliefs that we carry around, unchallenged, that falsely shape the way that we think. Cognitive distortions, though not the only cause of anxiety and depression, contribute to it significantly.
I once took in a live therapy demo where Dr. David Burns, an expert in cognitive behavioural therapy, took on a similar question. A very common theme that comes up for mothers is I am a bad mother.
During his demo, Dr. Burns stopped after the client expressed this belief. He challenged it, asking What is a bad mom, anyway? Dont we move from choice to choice, making good ones and bad ones, and learning as we go? Are we ever forever deemed a good Mom?
You could see the relief flood this womans face. The lie upon which she was basing a large part of her identity was false. She wasnt a bad mom after all there was hope for her.
With this hope, she was in a healthier mindset, and thus was better equipped to make better choices. Lets, as Christians, do the same. Lets let go of this cognitive distortion of bad Christian when our mental health isnt at its best and then look at ways that we can get healthier.
Combat The Lies Of Your Mind With Truth From Gods Word
You already have your identity found in Jesus! His life, death, and resurrection define who you are in the eyes of your Creator. God sees you as forgiven, redeemed.
Ephesians 1:3-14 in Him
Quit listening to yourself and start speaking the words of Scripture to yourself. Quit listening to demonic lies and start preaching the Gospel to yourself. Quit listening to worldly counsel and start submitting to biblical counsel. Quit believing the darkness and start believing the truth of who Christ has declared you to be.
In the darkness, cry out to the Lord. Read the Word of the Lord and remember your identity in Christ. Pray for wisdom and strength to preserver . Stay active . Sing truth. Preach the Gospel to yourself. Tell a trusted friend what youre thinking and seek pastoral counsel.
If youre a Christian, this is how God loves you! He is the author of Truth. Shoot these arrows at the lies your mind is speaking back at you. God loves you and you are His son, His daughter. Fight lies of fear and anxiety with the Truth of Scripture.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26
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Jeremiah Wrestled With Great Loneliness Feelings Of Defeat And Insecurity
Also known as the weeping prophet, Jeremiah suffered from constant rejection by the people he loved and reached out to. God had called him to preach, yet forbidden him to marry and have children. He lived alone, he ministered alone, he was poor, ridiculed, and rejected by his people. In the midst of it, he displayed great spiritual faith and strength, and yet we also see his honesty as he wrestled with despair and a great sense of failure:
Cursed be the day I was bornwhy did I ever come out of the womb to see trouble and sorrow and to end my days in shame? Jerermiah 20:14, Jeremiah 20:18
Misconception: Depression Is Not Real
Reality: Depression is a real illness that impacts the brains ability to function as it should.
The idea that depression is not real is a very dangerous misconception that prevents many people from getting help.
I remember sharing about my depression with a friend. He shared that he had similar experiences. He even felt so bad in high school that his mother took him to the doctor. The doctor diagnosed him with major depression and prescribed antidepressants. When they got home, his mother threw the medication sample in the trash and said that depression was not real. They never went back to the doctor or mentioned the diagnosis again.
My friends mother is a strong Christian who cares deeply for her son, but she bought into the myth that depression is not real. She seemed to think it was something shameful. Sadly, my friend to needlessly suffered from depression for years and even despaired of life itself. He finally got professional help for his depression a few years ago and is now thriving.
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Where Is Anxiety Mentioned In The Bible
However, the words anxiety and anxious are mentioned a total of 31 times in the Bible. It appears five times in the sixth chapter of Matthew in the span of nine verses. Letâs look at this passage and see what comfort we can gain from it when we are feeling anxious. Jesus speaking to his followers:
âTherefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?Therefore do not be anxious, saying, âWhat shall we eat?â or âWhat shall we drink?â or âWhat shall we wear?âFor the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
How Can I Help Someone Who Is Depressed Or Anxious
Any Anxiety Disorder Among Children, National Institute of Mental Health, Accessed January 18, 2017, https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/any-anxiety-disorder-among-children.shtml.
Any Anxiety Disorder Among Adults, National Institute of Mental Health, Accessed January 18, 2017, https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/any-anxiety-disorder-among-adults.shtml.
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