Depression That Leads to Death

True or False?

1) Most people trying to cope with depression simply don’t have strong enough faith.

FALSE. People in the church may jump to this conclusion because many depressed people push God away. They really suffer from a treatable chemical imbalance and are no different from someone suffering a disease such as diabetes.

2) Someone could be born with depression.

TRUE. Depression comes from being born into a sinful world. As with other diseases, the symptoms could be evident in a newborn.

3) Most people suffering from depression are simply waiting for permission to get help.

TRUE. Many of these people just want someone to believe that they are depressed and in need of help. They are looking for us to give them that permission.

Dr. John Johnson, psychologist, defines depression as: “a rather complex set of symptoms which are indicative of a person’s struggle to cope with the difficulties of life in an imperfect world.” The symptoms of mild depression include feelings of sadness. Severe depression, the kind of depression that may lead to death, brings on feelings of despondency and despair. Physically, these people may be tired, but unable to sleep, and suffer from mood swings and feelings of detachment. Mentally, they may feel hopeless, worthless, and have negative thoughts about God and loved ones. They may even push away those that they need the most.

Think of the story of Elijah in 1 Kings chapter 19. Elijah was suffering from clinical depression. He had killed the false prophets of Baal and was being pursued by Ahab and Jezebel. He fled into the desert and prayed that God would take his life. He fell asleep by a tree, and God sent an angel to wake him. The angel fed him and cared for him. Elijah was removed from the stress of his life, and God cared for him.

So, in light of this story, how should we look to treat those who are clinically depressed? First of all, we should try to remove them from the stressors in their life (“dumping the baggage,” if you will) that are causing the problem. Secondly, they need to have people around them who will support and encourage them. Thirdly, they should consider a medical treatment that is best for them. These people should not think that they can handle their depression themselves.

Anti-depressant drugs have come a long way in this age of medical technology. Drugs, such as Zoloft and Prozac, block the enzymes that break down serotonin, which is a necessary chemical in our bodies that helps us sleep and impacts our moods. Stress in our lives taxes our immune system and causes serotonin neuron producers to go to rest — they quit producing the serotonin that we need.

Most importantly, however, these people suffering from depression – whether they are elderly or young teenagers – need us to remind them of their loving God. We need to pray with them and pray for them. Just as God cared for Elijah in the desert, He will also not forsake those who are suffering.


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