Summary: 6 practical steps to find freedom from depression, and we are going to find these steps out of the valley of gloom in the life of Jesus.
Freedom from Depression
Climbing Out of the Valley of Gloom
I hope this doesn’t depress you but here are some interesting facts about depression:
• Nearly 19 million Americans or about 10 percent of the US populations age 18 or over will suffer some form of depression each year.
• Everyone will at some time in their life be affected by depression—either their own or someone else’s.
• PRESCHOOLERS are the fastest market for antidepressants! Over 1 million preschoolers are clinically depressed. The annual rate of increase for depression among children is 23%
• Depression results in more absenteeism than almost any other physical disorder and costs employers more than US$51 billion per year in absenteeism and lost productivity, not including high medical and pharmaceutical bills.
• Antidepressants work for 35 to 45% of the depressed population, although more recent figures suggest as low as 30%.
• Standard antidepressants, such as Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft, come with serious risks, and are linked to suicide, violence, psychosis, abnormal bleeding and brain tumors.
• Antidepressants medications work only as well (or less) than placebos.
[Depression Facts and Stats By Bob Murray, PhD and Alicia Fortinberry, MS http://www.upliftprogram.com/depression_stats.html]
ILLUSTRATION: The story is told how the great preacher and reformer Martin Luther once spent three days in a black depression over something that had gone wrong. On the third day his wife brought him mourning clothes to put on.
"Who’s dead?" Luther asked her.
"God," she replied.
Luther rebuked her, saying, "What do you mean, God is dead? God cannot die."
"Well," she replied, "the way you’ve been acting I was sure He had!"
How can we find freedom from depression? What does it take to climb out of the valley of gloom? This morning we will look at six practical steps we can take to find freedom from depression, and we are going to find these steps out of the valley of gloom in an unlikely place—the life of Jesus. But before we look at the six steps to finding freedom from depression, let’s start by looking at six general causes of depression
I. Causes of Depression
1. PHYSICAL Many times our depression is the result of physical causes.
a) Sometimes we just get caught up in the maddening pace of life. Things that are supposed to make our lives easier sometimes only add to our ‘to do’ list, and when the computer or other gadgets don’t work like they are supposed to it just adds to our stress.
BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATION: Elijah’s story in 1 Kings 18-19 is an example of depression brought on by physical exhaustion. Elijah had won the battle with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. Then when he was threatened by Jezebel, Elijah ran for his life over 100 miles from Jezreel to Beersheba. There Elijah sat down and just wanted to die; his prayer was simple; “Lord I’ve had enough, just kill me because I’m no better than my ancestors. What did Elijah need? Food and rest, God sent an angel to minister to Elijah and, then God took Elijah on a 40 day journey to Mount Sinai. When Elijah got there he again sat down depressed and full of self-pity, “Lord I’m the only one left who is faithful to you.” A major part of Elijah’s depression was brought on by physical causes. If you are familiar with Elijah’s story then you may recognize some other causes of his depression as we continue.
b) Illness can be another physical cause of depression. How often when we are sick do we find ourselves feeling depressed and wanting to isolate ourselves from others?
• Psalm 88:15, 18 (NIV) From my youth I have been afflicted and close to death; I have suffered your terrors and am in despair . . . You have taken my companions and loved ones from me; the darkness is my closest friend.
c) Sometimes we make the mistake of searching for an emotional or spiritual cause for our depression. What we may need to do is first look for a physical cause. Are we just exhausted? Are we eating right? Are we getting some exercise? If we take the necessary steps needed to keep our bodies physically healthy we may also alleviate our depression as well.
2. SENSE OF LOSS Depression can also be cause by a sense of loss.
a) The aging process can bring both physical pains and a sense of loss for the missed opportunities and regrets that can flood your mind. By just about anyone’s standards Solomon had it made; he had everything. Yet as he closes the book of Ecclesiastes 12:1-8 we find venting some of his depression caused by his sense of loss as he reflected upon his life. “Meaningless! Meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”