The Bible is plumb full of commentary on depression. King David experienced intermittent times of intense depression. He was a man who had to work through a great deal of it, and we can see that he succeeded in breaking through into freedom.
Would David today be treated with antidepressants? Could he have been treated at a mental hospital? (I honestly think the answer is “yes” to these questions. He was definitely devastated by depression at certain times.)
There is no question he experienced both spiritual and physical depression. But I believe that David teaches us that depression has a spiritual component in our fallenness. It has to be treated holistically, covering both the physical and the spiritual. It’s like having two hands injured but only treating one of them.
We need to discern the difference between:
- depression caused by guilt (sin)
- depression caused by a medical issue (organic)
- depression as a reaction to a trauma or loss (reaction)
This is key. These all can be working at the same time (and very often do). But there will only be a partial release if there is only a partial solution. The three can overlap each other. Any of the three can be the predominant kind of depression.
The points below deal primarily with “guilt” or “sin depression.” (I’m not qualified to speak out on the other two.)
1) Confession of sin may free us from certain issues of depression.
13″If you don’t confess your sins, you will be a failure. But God will be merciful if you confess your sins and give them up.” Proverbs 28:13 (CEV)
2) The story of Cain and Abel reveals the issue of “angry depression” taking over a person’s actions.
“6The LORD said to Cain:
What’s wrong with you? Why do you have such an angry look on your face? 7If you had done the right thing, you would be smiling. But you did the wrong thing, and now sin is waiting to attack you like a lion. Sin wants to destroy you, but don’t let it!” Genesis 4:6-7
3) David was depressed until he confessed his sin of adultery with Bathsheba.
3“When I refused to confess my sin,
my body wasted away,
and I groaned all day long.
4 Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me.
My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.” Psalm 32:3-4 (NLT)
4) The way out of depression caused by guilt is confession and seeking God’s forgiveness.
5 “Finally, I confessed all my sins to you
and stopped trying to hide my guilt.
I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.”
And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.
1 Oh, what joy for those
whose disobedience is forgiven,
whose sin is put out of sight!
2 Yes, what joy for those
whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt,
whose lives are lived in complete honesty!” Psalm 32:5 , 1-2
5) If you are a Christian and are experiencing “moderate-to-heavy” depression, I would encourage you to seek out medical help. Medication may be helpful to get through this rough time, and talk therapy can be a life-saver. If your depression is caused from guilt, it will NOT get better, until you deal with it in the presence of God.
Your regular doctor can guide you to a good psychiatrist which may help.