Over these past couple of days I have experienced depression. Nothing requiring a trip to the doctor, but still I experienced a dramatic reduction in motivation, lethargy and an amazingly pessimistic outlook on life. It has been a very long time since I have felt this and thankfully today it lifted.
What is interesting is that I have training and experience in psychotherapy and was able to self diagnose, and I also found myself thinking about the experience while I was having it. I found my heart breaking at the thought of those who struggle with depression for long periods of time and experience the affects much more profoundly than I did.
As a past psychotherapist I understand that it can be triggered by events in life (as was my episode) but it can also be brought about through a change in the chemistry of the brain, regardless of how life might be. And then I started reflecting on the spiritual aspect, could depression be brought about through a spiritual attack?
In the midst of my depression I posted the following status update on Facebook:
Thinking a lot about depression today. Where does it come from? Why does it persist? Big prayers for those struggling today.
And a number of people responded including my ex pastor, Mark Illingworth who wrote the following comment:
I don’t think I’ve personally experienced depression but I know I’ve experienced spiritual oppression which I think has very similar symptoms – for me its involved suicidal thoughts, feelings of worthlessness, inexplicable guilt, exhaustion, pessimism.
“Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
As we faithfully minister the Good News to others, our enemy wants to trip us up and confusing our thoughts and feelings is how I’ve experienced that. I think it is significant that Peter warns us earlier in 1 Peter 4:12 not to be surprised at the fiery trials that we are going through as if this is something strange – spiritual oppression is part of the real battle that is happening as God extends his Kingdom in and through us. Regular prayer and bible reading and the support and prayers of those around me and confession and forgiveness are all things that are needed to strengthen my faith so I can stand against the fiery darts of the evil one (Ephesians 6:10-20). “Use every piece of God’s armour to resist the enemy in the time of evil, so that after the battle you will still be standing firm” vs 13 May the Lord through the Holy Spirit give all of us insight and renewed strength as we seek to be faithful despite our thoughts and feelings. 🙂
I chatted to him on the phone today to get his permission to print his comment and he spoke of how reading the Word and prayer, and confession of sin contributed to his healing. But also he shared that taking a break assisted him as well.
And this stands as good advice for those struggling with depression:
- Read the Word
- Pray even when it hurts
- Face your sin and deal with it
- Take a break, rest, do things that are relaxing and fun
And if it does persist, seeing a doctor as getting medical help is a good thing.
Interestingly I do the above five things most days, and the way I broke my depression was to increase each of them.
I rest in the assurance of Matthew 11:28:
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
Praise God for that!
I would love to pray for you if you are struggling.. leave a comment below if you feel comfortable.
If you would like to subscribe to this blog and receive my reflections as an email for free: click here.
Yahweh’s Yarn in a Year : 1 year Bible reading plan
The portion for today is: Mark 15-16
To access the complete plan for the year click here