Spiritual Sources of Depression

Just as there are physical, emotional, and mental reasons for depression, there are also spiritual reasons for a despairing heart. Disobedience and guilt provide enough fertile seed to turn any white cloud into a dark storm. You can’t harbour the guilt of displeasing God and still experience the full joy of His salvation, nor can you withstand the schemes and attacks of the enemy against your mind without knowing and appropriating the Word of Life into your life. Disobedience and guilt are inseparable. And unless you apply the remedy of confession and repentance (a change of mind and a change of direction), you may find depression sweeping over your soul and spirit, and, like the disobedient Israelites …“You will find no repose, no resting place for the sole of your foot. There the Lord will give you an anxious mind, eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart.” (Deuteronomy 28:65)

sharonAn excellent example of this is what Sharon Fawcett wrote in an article of CBN called, “Depression: My Spiritual Battle for Deliverance.”  I quote excerpts from this article: “My admission to the psychiatric ward was an attempt to protect me from myself—I had expressed thoughts of suicide to my physician. The admitting psychiatrist prescribed an antidepressant medication and told my husband, “In a couple of weeks, Sharon should feel well enough to go home.” I was there for eight months, and that was just my first hospitalization.

The diagnosis came easily: major clinical depression complicated by personality disorders. The cure was more complex. In the next nine years I accepted every form of treatment offered to me: twenty different antidepressant medications, nearly 200 electroconvulsive treatments (shock treatments), and many other forms of therapy. I spent 80 weeks as a patient in hospital psychiatric wards. The quest for healing became my occupation.

Years passed but my depression remained. It was as though tiny bandages had been placed on a large, gaping wound; but it continued to bleed and would not heal. Finally, after nine years of medical care, my diagnosis was changed to refractory depression—depression that does not respond adequately to treatment.

I was baffled. It seemed that nearly a decade of my life had been wasted searching for a cure that did not come. Precious years with my husband and children had been lost forever. I deemed myself a failure as a wife, a mother, and a Christian. Now, it seemed, I was a failure as a psychiatric patient, as well. Refractory depression felt like a death sentence.

My doctor had given me excellent medical treatment over the years, but I began to realize that while those in the mental health profession had done all they could to treat my body and mind (by treating my brain chemistry and emotions), a key element of my being had never really been considered: my spirit. So, I took my pastor’s advice and began to see a Christian counsellor.

I learned that the roots of my depression were not biochemical or emotional, as I had assumed, but spiritual. I discovered many lies I had believed my entire life, which greatly affected my personality and influenced the way I had chosen to live. One of the most destructive untruths was that I was not good enough. As a young child I began to feel that I was somehow flawed, substandard, inferior. I lived my life trying to prevent others from discovering how worthless I really was. Lacking a healthy sense of my own value, I became dependent on the approval of those around me to make me feel good about myself, earning their praise through performing, people pleasing, and perfectionism. It became a costly addiction. I burned out at the age of 26, unable to “do” anymore.

As I sat in Berys’ office (Christian Counsellor) one afternoon, the Holy Spirit spoke softly to my wounded, weary soul. He told me that I was not the worthless person I had always believed I was. Sharon Fawcett was the handiwork of the Creator of the universe, made in His image.

My work was of no consequence. My achievements did not matter. What I did or who I was did not determine my worth—whose I was did. I was a beloved child of the King! Believing this truth would transform me. No longer would I have to strive for the approval of others. God’s opinion of me was all that mattered, and He loved me just the way I was. I was free to discover His purpose for my life.

Prior to beginning Christian counseling, I had lost almost all hope of ever getting well and believed that my days on earth were nearing an end. But now God whispered, “I have plans for you, Little One, a future full of hope!” He promised, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart…and I will bring you back from captivity” (Jeremiah 29:13,14). And so, I sought Him—continuously—by studying His Word, listening to His voice, and praying. God fulfilled His promise. Within three months of my initial meeting with the Christian counselor, my depression was gone. I never returned to the psychiatric ward, never had another electroconvulsive treatment, and I no longer needed medication, or the care of a psychiatrist. Six years have passed and I remain free!” Copyright © 2005 Sharon L. Fawcett.

Sharon Fawcett is a freelance writer and speaker from New Brunswick, Canada. Her stories appear in several books such as God Answers Prayers, God Allows U-Turns for Women, and Silver Linings: Breaking Through the Clouds of Depression. For more information, or to contact Sharon, visit her Web site: www.SharonFawcett.com.