Summary: A examination of the relationship between Faith in God and Mental Depression.
Faith and Depression
Robert A. Glass
Scientists tell us that there are umpteen gazillion snowflakes that fall on the earth. And, each one of those snow flakes are different, yet all are made of snow. These are ALSO umpteen gazillion reasons for depression, and each reason can be radically different (It would do no good to list the reasons for depression, 1. It would be a book all by itself and 2.I would probably overlook other depression causes.
Yet, even though the reasons of depression are different, the effects of depression are quite similar. Namely, some of these are lethargy, moodiness, self-condemnation, guilt, worry, anger, and even a deepened depression unto death.
So, wherein and how, (can and does) a person’s Faith play a part in depression?
Faith is more than a simple noun contained in the Bible. It is also a dynamic ADVERB! Think of Father Abraham, Heb 11:8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing where he went. God told Abraham to go, and by faith, we went. His faith made him MOVE!
I have heard it said that “Faith can move mountains”. I’ve seen some pretty big mountains, and if they moved, they didn’t move much. But Mt. Depression” CAN be moved by faith.
Consider the 12 step program for the members of Alcoholics Anonymous. Seven of the twelve are directly attributed to a Higher Power or GOD. 1.” that our lives had become unmanageable” Depression can make someone’s life unmanageable. 2. “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” God can restore us to sanity. 3.” Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.” (That sounds like faith to me.) 4. “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. 6.”Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. 7.”Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings”
All seven of these show that the recovery from Alcoholism is aided by a faith and belief in God. It is widely believed that alcoholism is a disease and depression is a disease also. If a firmly rooted faith in a Higher Power can be of benefit to the recovery of Alcohol, is it unreasonable to consider that Faith can also have a cognizant effect on depression as well.
Faith is a function of the mind, it may cause biological effects but it is entirely a factor of the mind. If you have no mind, then you have no faith. Faith is therefore cognative.
This leads us to the question of “Mind over Body”. Can anyone deny that biofeedback has been used and documented as a tool for medical treatment? Anxiety, Anger, Panic Episodes, Migrane Headaches and Depression have all been treated with biofeedback.
The wisest King of Israel was Soloman, he recorded in (Proverbs 23:7) “For whatsoever a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” If a man convinces himself he is depressed, he will be depressed. (Granted, there are some chemical and biological triggers for depression, yet ALL are exacerbated by the attitudes of the patient involved.)
So, what is Faith and what effect can it have for depressed patients? (Heb 11:1) “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith is a hope, a belief, even a conviction of a Higher Power in our lives and the belief that THAT Higher Power can influence physical and mental health. We can’t see God, yet we believe God exists. That is Faith.
When we believe in the ability of a Higher Power to help us, then we can build Faith on that belief. If a patient can believe that God will help them be less-depressed then their Faith will serve as a source of refuge in times of trial, a “shelter in the times of storm”.
Depression often creates a “dog chasing tail” cycle. The more depressed a patient is, the more depressed a patients becomes. The key to the dilemma is “What will break the cycle?” In many patients, Faith can be the single most effective tool in breaking the cycle of depression. If a patient possesses a belief that God is with them, then the feeling of being “alone and depressed” is removed. The heartfelt feeling of God has removed isolation. Depression and the feelings of isolation are twin sisters to each other. When you are depresssed you feel isolated. Having a basis of Faith can remove the isolation and lessen the effects of Depression.
When a soldier enters battle; He carries his gun. But he also carries under his flak jacket, a faith that he will return home when the war is over. There are many levels of depression on a battlefield. But that faith of going home carries them onward. Depression is also a battle, a constant struggle against the “Darkside”. To many patients, their Darth Vader is Depression. Many seem hopelessly lost within the “Darkside of Depression” BUT, a person’s faith CAN be stronger and deepeer than the effects of depression.