by James Rudy Gray
(Editor's note: This article is the first of a planned series on common emotional issues that most Christian workers have the opportunity to deal with.)
Depression is the most widespread and common of all the mental/emotional maladies that touch people's lives. There are many different theories attempting to define why people become depressed.
It is possible that a person may have an imbalance of neurotransmitters. The treatment procedure here would be medication. A medical doctor would need to be in charge of the person's care. It is also possible that a natural remedy that has found a great deal of success could be effectively utilized. St. John's Wort (standardized) can be useful when given in the correct dosage. It is generally agreed that this type of treatment is most useful with mild to moderate depression.
When a person exhibits two or more of the following signs, there is an indication that depression may be issue: depressed mood, change in appetite, change in sleep pattern, low energy, poor self-esteem, lack of concentration, and feelings of hopelessness.
Another potential cause of depression is a change in the sleep/wake cycle. The theory is that an adjustment in the person's schedule could help lift the depression.
Depression can be caused as a result of a physical problem or as a side effect of medication. Too much stress can trigger depression as well as changes or losses in a person's life.
One of the most common reasons a person gets depressed, however, has to do with anger being turned inward. When this happens, the best treatment procedure is one that faces the issues, identifies the anger, and works to change the thought patterns. Since human behavior follows a general formula, changing the way a person looks at something will change how they feel about something.
Perspective is vitally important. In our lives, something happens. This is immediately followed by our interpretation of what happens. Our next move is to respond to what has happened, based not so much on what happened as on how we interpret what has happened. How we interpret something determines our response to it.
Depression often follows that type of course. We can not only lift a sad mood or depressed feelings, but can also prevent depression from ensnaring us by developing a healthy method of interpretation.
A person who is struggling with depression because of anger turned inward must deal with the anger-and also with why they chose to be angry. Moving from that stage, a person can then focus on specific truths from God's Word that build confidence and affirm positives, such as Psalm 27:1-7, Isaiah 40:28-31, and many, many passages.
Activity-both of mind and body-is also a good counteractant to depression.
Finally, look at the family history of the individual. About 20% of those suffering from serious depression will have one or more relatives who also suffer from depression. Some people are more vulnerable to than others.
There is hope for people who are depressed. The journey out of depression can begin when a Christian worker takes the time to listen, understand, and encourage. Giving someone hope goes a long way toward allowing that person to cope with depression and even overcome it.