This Thing Called Depression

It’s a beast guys. It’s debilitating. I have been diagnosed with chronic depression w/ bouts of major depression. It is a medical illness, and here are some of the symptoms:

-sadness or depressed mood, almost every day.
-loss of pleasure in things you once enjoyed.
-Major change in weight or appetite (for me this was an increase)
-Insomnia
-Physically restless or rundown
-Fatigue/loss of energy, almost every day
-Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, or excessive guilt almost every day
-Problems with concentration or making decisions almost every day
-Recurring thoughts of death/suicide (I haven’t considered suicide, but this manifests in anxiety/panic attacks and other thoughts of death).

I suffer from every single one of these symptoms on a daily basis. The frustrating thing is that because a lot of these are based on “feelings,” people tend to think it’s not a real medical problem and is, instead, a heart problem. A sin problem.

I recently had an online discussion with a fellow Christian blogger. She had shared this quote on her facebook, along with some thoughts of her own affirming that depression is truly a sin problem.

Years of counseling with people who are chronically unhappy, depressed, frustrated, and emotionally unstable have convinced me that these “disorders” often stem from an unthankful heart, regardless of any external circumstances that may appear to provide an explanation. Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Sadly, this sums up what most of Christians think about the matter. That depression and other “supposed disorders” are simply caused by a bad attitude, an ungrateful heart, a sin problem. I’ve seen other Christian bloggers claim that depression is rooted in a person being greedy and always wanting more and better possessions or status. Despite medical evidence to the contrary, there is still a tendency to say that a person with depression is at fault.

It deeply saddens me to see this attitude expressed.

If you know someone who is suffering from depression, please give them a little support. A word of encouragement, a word of kindness.

I remember a couple years ago when I was going through a particularly hard time. I have a friend who doesn’t necessarily understand this depression stuff, but she has enough compassion to care anyway. She and another friend showed up at my door with a pizza for lunch and a bag of Dove chocolates. I was so touched by her thoughtfulness. Even if it was just a short reprieve, it reminded me that someone cared.

According to the CDC website, in the year 2010, there were more than 38,000 suicide deaths in the US. There were more than 630,000 emergency department visits for self-inflicted injury.

Depression is a serious problem. It is a real thing. People suffering from it need your prayers, your kindness, your support. Not your judgments.

 

Comments

  1. says

    I had started watching a DVD sermon series by Jim Berg – It’s called Quieting a Noisy Soul. But I couldn’t finish because his view on depression, anxiety, fear, etc is that it is solely a sin issue. I wish people would understand that for some people, it goes deeper than that. Something that is utterly dehibilitating should be looked at, analyzed, and treated with the care one gives for cancer or another physical illness.

  2. Jennifer says

    Crystal — take heart. Satan has many ways of weaseling his way into people’s hearts and lives, and will stop at nothing to cause division and pain.
    God loves you, and I love you. May you be richly blessed!

  3. jennirust says

    (Attempt number 2 at leaving a comment. UGH)

    Crystal, you are so brave! Thank you for sharing again – and please keep sharing! I wish we lived closer so that I could come encourage you when you need it – and vice versa! =)

    Please know that I think of and pray for you often! I’m so glad to have an online friend in you. Have a GREAT day!

    • Crystal says

      Jenni, you have been such an encouragement to me with your comments and emails! Thank you so much for being so sweet! You’re a blessing to me :)
      PS-I hate when that happens with comments!

  4. says

    I also get frustrated when people believe that depression is just an “unthankful heart” or “all in your head”. A Facebook friend once made an insensitive comment similar to this: “X number of people are depressed and X number of people are not Christians, coincidence? I don’t think so.”

    How hurtful that was to see. Depression is very very real. I struggled with it about 4 years ago after the birth of my daughter and I have friends who are going through it right now. While it can *sometimes* be connected to a spiritual issue, oftentimes it is something else entirely and strong believers can experience it as “a thorn in the flesh” so to speak. I believe we must be careful in what we say about depression and continue to pray for those affected as well as offer comfort and help when needed. Thanks for bringing this up, Crystal, it’s a tough subject to tackle! Praying for you!

    • Crystal says

      Jenn, I’m so sorry that someone made such an insensitive comment! Ugh.

      I completely agree that there are times when it is a spiritual issue. I also think that part of the problem is the fact that we use the word “depression” very loosely, so it has kind of lost it’s meaning. We say we’re “depressed” when we’re sad over circumstances, having a pity party, etc. and that’s not what it really means.

      Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words :)

  5. says

    Great post! And I agree true medical depression is very different than an ungrateful heart or being a “bad” Christian. Sadly many people don’t understand the difference and only make people with mental illness feel more isolated and alone.

  6. Anonymous says

    Wonderful post! People do not seem to understand that medical depression, including anxiety and panic disorder, are medical issues caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. It is so sad when people think differently and then do not seek the medical attention that they need. I have suffered with anxiety disorder for over 20 years. I once had a doctor tell me to take a walk when I am having a panic attack. Needless to say, it didn’t work. I have been blessed to have received the help I needed which for me was medication. I will be on the medication for the rest of my life but it controls the disorder and I can lead my life knowing the Lord loves me and that this is not a punishment. God Bless you Crystal!

  7. says

    Hi Crystal, thanks for sharing your heart here. I don’t believe depression is caused by sin. I do believe it can be an attack of the enemy though. Some of the most Godly people have suffered from depression. I read a lot and I’ve found that many people like Charles Spurgeon and Martin Luther suffered from deep depression. Sometimes they were even bedridden from it. Take heart, you are in good company. God did wonderful things through these men and He has wonderful things for you to do too. :)

    Found your blog through ‘This southern girl’s heart’ facebook page and now following.

    God bless

    • Crystal says

      Thank you so much for your kind, kind words! I really appreciate your encouragement. I completely agree that depression, like other illnesses can definitely be an attack of the enemy..just like I know that God could deliver me, just like He can perform miracles every day.

    • says

      I don’t know what I did wrong, but I’m not anonymous, Crystal. I saw my dad suffer in ways I don’t even want to put online. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s all in your head. Still praying for you!

  8. says

    Thank you so much for sharing this! My mother has clinical depression as well and I saw her go through some very rough spells growing up, even with medication, a loving family and a very firm faith in Jesus Christ – sometimes her brain just couldn’t/wouldn’t let her be happy. And had a similar argument with a friend in college who believed the same as the quote in your piece. While I certainly think that depression can be over-diagnosed and over-medicated and sometimes very well may be a heart/faith problem – the simple fact is – none of us knows another persons circumstances or what God is working on with them. It’s not our place to judge the “validity” of another persons illness – it’s our job to love them and help bear their burdens as sisters in Christ. Period.

    Thank you so much for sharing your own struggles and for hopefully shedding a light on a difficult illness so that others may be helped in the process! Thanks for not being afraid to take off your “perfect Christian” mask and to be real with us. Putting a face to the issue can help people who don’t understand to begin to feel empathy instead of judgement. It means so much to hear from other people and families with similar experiences. God Bless!!

    • Crystal says

      Amy, I’m sorry that your mom has gone through clinical depression, and your family as well. I know that my family is affected by my depression as well. Thank you so much for your words of support. I know that I open myself up to judgments and criticism by being so transparent, but my prayer is that someone’s eyes will be opened who hadn’t really considered depression as being “real,” and/or that someone else out there suffering from it will know that they are not alone, and that I can be a small support for them.

    • Crystal says

      Sylvia, I just read your post and my heart breaks for you! I am so sorry that you had to deal with those attitudes in the midst of such a trying time in your lives :( While I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that God can miraculously heal any and every illness, that doesn’t always happen. And we just still have to trust Him. But I do not believe it’s because of a lack of faith. One of my favorite stories is of Peter walking on water. He started to sink because he lost his faith in the midst of the waves and wind. But Jesus didn’t leave him there, He picked him up, even in that lack of faith. Also, I agree with you that it takes far more faith to live for God even in the midst of a “no.”

  9. says

    I wanted to thank you for writing and sharing this here. I don't suffer from depression, but God has placed me in a circle of people who are going through really tough times often resulting in deep feelings of despair and depression. I know He has me among this group for a reason (perhaps to build compassion for it within me?) but it's odd to me because I've always struggled to understand it. My dad raised me with these words being repeated over and over throughout my young life…"if you're not happy, do something about it. Make a change. Life is too short." While I believe his "wisdom" is true to some extent, I also know we can't always just change things. God has a plan for each of us and He controls that plan. However, I've also learned (as I've been sort of pushed by the hand of God into online ministry) that depression is real and it runs deep and it isn't necessarily based on circumstances, but is an actual medical problem. So I continue trying to understand it, trying to be compassionate, supportive, caring, and encouraging…but I gotta tell you…the I-need-to-fix-everyone's-problems kind of girl I tend to be really struggles with depression in people I know and care about. I know God is trying to teach me through this position he's placed me in… Anyway, I just wanted you to know I appreciate your insight. You have a very lovely blog!

    • Crystal says

      Thank you! And the fact that you are trying to understand it and have compassion, even though you’ve never experienced it…that gives me hope! It’s so awesome to see, because I know it’s a tough thing to understand. And, to tell you a little secret, I’ve watched my dad, and eventually my mom as well struggle with severe depression and anxiety. Even though I’m going through it as well, my heart hurts for them, and I do wish I could fix it. I don’t think that ever goes away because we do want to be able to help those we love, and sometimes it’s hard when we can’t fix it…but you can still be love and support for them and sometimes that’s exactly what people need. Blessings to you as you bless your friends who are struggling!

  10. KM Logan says

    Amen, Amen, and a hundred times over Amen! Some people might be unthankful and have sin in their lives, but depression, true depression is a chemical imbalance. No one thinks anything of popping a tylenol for a headache, or going to the doctor if they have back pain, but "depression" has a stigma attached to it. Pinning this post.

  11. Tiffany Bivens Rowe says

    I found you thru women living well, and I completely agree with Everything you wrote!!!!! I suffered bad depression yrs ago and it is sad how lots of people don't understand it is an illness, just like you said. I can't tell you how many times I've heard well I went through depression and I just snapped out of it, we'll it isn't that easy when for a Huge portion of your life you have been depressed. Anyway thank you for your blog post :))

  12. Zil Newob says

    I just wanted to say my heart goes out to you and your struggles with depression but how much I admire your courage to do what you do everyday! Recently, I had been feeling extremely low and so much of what you said low on everything. I discovered that I was low on vitamin D. I thought possibly depression because I had went through PPD after my 3rd child. But after beginning treatment for vitamin D and calcium deficiency I am feeling so much better and I have months to go before I will be in normal range. I can't tell you how excited I am to have my sanity back. Everyday I feel so much better, I just have to share this with you. You never know it might curb your depression, I know it has totally transformed my mind and body. Numbers should be higher than 25 according to my doctor but ideally 50-100. The test isn't too expensive but whoa the benefits! My mood has lifted more each week. I pray God will strengthen you and I am so thankful for your honesty and commitment to doing so much even when you feel so low. You matter so much to those in your life and your work is helping others. Praise God for you!

  13. says

    You know, what I don’t understand is how people can accept that our bodies are afflicted with things like diabetes, cancer, heart problems, yet not accept that our brains – which are biological as well – cannot be similarly affected. I struggle with anxiety in this same way and many people do not understand. It is HARD to work through. And I see it in my kiddo too :( He’s had anxieties from a young age, an age much too young to be taught a particular state of mind or make it up or have a “sin problem”. I really applaud you for sharing this to help others.

  14. says

    In complete agreement, Crystal. I find it strange that people blame the sufferer from this illness. Imagine the outcry if people did the same to cancer victims! How are the two different?

  15. says

    I am shocked to know there are Christians judging other Christians like this. I have fought depression since the onset of puberty. It also is prevalent in both sides of my family. And depression, the chemical imbalance, can be passed along genetically too. It just shows the ignorance of people as they judge the sin of others. Personally, the line "as ye judge, so shall ye be judged," scares me spitless. So I wouldn't dream of making the comments you describe about anyone else's so-called sin. I'll be on antidepressants for the rest of my life and I'm fine with that; I'm going to be taking vitamins too. I also have fibromyalgia, which is often referred to as laziness even by the medical community even though there have been studies in progress for 20 years. It's also known as something that is all in one's head. Altough that has changed in the last five years even in the medical community thanks to the drug Lyrica, and those studies I mentioned. Ignorant people act in an ignorant manner. And the rest of us have to put up with them. Good luck with your chemical imbalance, and hang in there. A fellow sufferer.

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