Depression sucks. It really does. I’m one of those people that believes the average never-been-depressed-person doesn’t have a clue as to what real depression is actually like. So I’m going to peel back some of the layers and let you have a peek. If you want to understand, then turn on your empathizer, because otherwise, you’ll have a difficult time getting close to understanding.
Please know that I’m not suggesting people don’t care, or don’t want to understand – but for the average non-depressed person, it’s like asking men to empathize with childbirth. As men, we can live through it with our wives, but we have no clue what-so-ever what it’s actually like.
In this blog, I’m going to provide some definitions that help people understand what depression is and what it is not. I’m going to reveal the root causes of depression and touch on some practical steps you can take to eliminate those roots.
Finally, I will explain how to engage with Jesus to allow Him to heal your emotional wounds. In a future blog, I’ll discuss the authority, or perhaps the justification, for this healing.
What Depression is Not
Depression is not a minor discouragement, nor is it a hardship to be endured. Depression is not caused by the obfuscation of Jesus, our hope. Depression does not arrive because you didn’t get what you wanted or because something unpleasant happened, and you’re now sad.
A depressed person may not readily show you their innermost condition. They may interact seemingly well in your presence or appear well adjusted. They can hold jobs, function well in society, and participate in activities. You’ll never know that internally, they’re on the brink of despondency. You’ll never know that their aversion to drugs and weaponry is just a cover to keeping themselves safe from self-harm.
A Proper Definition
Years ago, I went to a physician, our Family M.D. I told him I was depressed. He asked how I felt. I told him I was despondent. He replied, “well, that’s a pretty strong word, don’t you think?” I’m not kidding. Apparently, I wasn’t permitted to feel despondent in his worldview of depression.
Despondency is defined as a state of feeling profound hopelessness, dejection, discouragement, and gloom. People who are very depressed are despondent: they are in such a condition that every fiber of their being hurts; they live with an aching headache every day; they generally find relief only when sleeping and they look forward to the morning when their head isn’t aching, and their soul isn’t breaking.
Some of these may have suicidal ideations. The strong ones never go down that path – they somehow learn to live with the pain or find a way out. The less fortunate succumb to the battle, opting for the ultimate, permanent solution.
Helplessness is a big part of depression. People with no hope are unable to see past their current state. They cannot imagine a life any better than what they’re currently experiencing – even when Jesus plays a significant role in their life. In their world, there is nothing that can pull them out of the pain, out of the pressure or away from their circumstances. Their state of being is such that they cannot move towards a better state – they can’t even grasp onto a rope of change dangled in their midst.
In order to understand discouragement, let’s define encouragement and take the inverse.
Encouragement is a form of joy. It is derived from the knowledge or expectation that something unappealing will be reversed, or turned to good in some way. Encouragement enables determination and confidence, which breeds hopefulness. Encouragement helps lay a foundation to build a path to better outcomes.
Discouragement is the opposite of all of that. The depressed person can see nothing that is appealing in their future, they believe no good is likely to happen. They see nothing that can move them from their position of pain to a better place, they have no hope for their future. The longer they stay depressed, the less likely they are to do something – anything – to help themselves out of the miry clay in which they’re stuck.
Dejection is that state of being in which we feel alienated from those around us as if we’re somehow less than they are, less capable, less worthy, more broken.
Gloom generally colors the world in which the depressed person lives. Almost all things in the depressed person’s world are tainted with one or more of the qualities I’ve described. If you were to assign a color to the world of a depressed person, it would be grey. No shadows, no definition – just a muddled life without clarity or useful form.
The Root Cause
A person much more learned than myself, a therapist who held a Ph.D. in psychology, told me that the root causes of depression were unresolved fear, anger, and loss. When she suggested that I was perhaps the angriest person she had ever met, I vehemently dismissed her assessment. But it was something I couldn’t let go of. As I wrestled with her evaluation, I discovered that she was right: I had a lot of unresolved pain that was surfacing as anger. And, as most of us know, many times, depression is simply anger turned inward.
I’m completely and utterly free of the bondage of depression, and I have been for many years. I believe that there are people whom Jesus has completely healed of depression in one fell swoop. And others like me have traveled a road of discovery. Since I’ve learned how to address depression when it tries to creep up the walls of my prosperity (3 John 1:2-3), I will enumerate for you the tools I’ve learned to use to address the problem.
Knowing the Truth
The first thing provided to me by God was John 8:32: “ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free” (John 8:32). Recall that my Ph.D. therapist suggested that the root cause of depression is unresolved anger, loss, and fear. Your first job is to acknowledge your held anger and fears. You must admit your losses and face them. The bottom line is that you must want to change. Perhaps you’re like the father who cried, “help my unbelief.” You may need to cry out, “help me to want to change...”
Trust in the Lord
I almost don’t want to go here, only because some people believe just seeing the “preciousness of Jesus” will make the clouds of depression float away. I don’t have much respect for that philosophy, nor their pundits. Depression is not about the absence of comprehension of how precious Jesus, God, or Holy Spirit is to any given person. It’s far more complex.
The root cause of depression, aside from some physical ailment, is entirely about your belief systems.
As someone who lived with depression from a very, very young age and then well into adulthood, I will assert you need to understand this: God has a mental health plan, and He has an account with your name on it. He’s ready for you to go to Dr. Jesus and receive some services.
And as I suggested in previous blogs, depression is all about what you’re focused on, what you believe, and what you give power to.
Resisting the Devil
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete. (2 Cor 10:3-6)
The battle for victory over depression is waged in our mind (through choice) and in our spirit, through the finished work of Jesus. Through divinely powerful weapons enabled through Holy, creative imaginations, we destroy fortresses established in our thinking patterns: we destroy speculations, and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God; we take all thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ.
You will know the truth and the truth will set you free (John 8:32), doesn’t mean you acknowledge fears, loss, and anger as active entities that affect you, it means you understand where they come from, you recognize the lies of the devil that enable their fortresses to have power over you.
The Steadfast Mind
There is one verse in scripture that clearly lays down where our depression has its roots, and how to overcome its debilitating effects over us. Some people will not like this scripture because it’s too easy; perhaps it seems to make light of the issues at hand.
For a genuinely despondent person, I understand entirely. Been there, done that.
But if you will find and obliterate your fear through His strength, if you will use this scripture in conjunction with destroying strongholds, you will overcome depression:
The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You. (Isa 26:3)
This steadfast mind is focused on the provision God has already provided for you. It activates faith in His goodness and provision for you.
Emotional Healing for Depression and Emotional Wounds
I learned some of this technique by myself years ago, and what I learned was later augmented by someone else who understands emotional healing, Praying Medic. This process he discovered, is outlined below.
Emotional healing is an extremely powerful and functional practice – not because the formula is powerful in itself, but because of who is doing the work: Jesus. You will find that for some of the things you take to Jesus in the process, the wounds will be so completely healed, that you may forget what it was that Jesus healed – your sins removed as far as the east is from the west (Psalms 103:12)
In this process, you will identify a situation, that when you recall it, will bring to the surface a negative emotion. The point of this process is to trigger the negative emotion so that Jesus can heal it. Therefore, I recommend you start with something manageable.
This is a Process
It is highly likely that you will find this to be a process that removes layers of protection you built up over the years – like an onion of despair. Once you’ve progressed through one phase, pause and rest for a moment before you begin again.
The Emotional Healing Process
Speak these things aloud. Recall that whenever Jesus performed healing, He spoke aloud against the infirmity.
Have faith in God. Amen, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it shall be done for him (Mark 11:22-23)
- Identify a painful emotion associated with a particular event.
- If the emotion is sinful, ask God to forgive you and receive his forgiveness. It is good to remind yourself of forgiveness principles, such as 1 John 1:9
- Say that you believe His blood has taken away the penalty and consequences of your sin.
- If it is not sinful, go to the next step.
- Tell Jesus you want the emotion removed from your soul.
- Ask Jesus to heal the wound in your soul caused by the emotion.
- Tell Jesus you receive His healing.
- If the emotion is there because you believed a lie about that situation, ask Jesus to show you the truth about the situation.
- An optional step is to ask Jesus to give you something positive to replace the negative emotion that He is removing.
- If you ask Him to take away sadness, you might ask Him to give you joy.
- If you ask Him to take away anger, you might ask Him to give you peace.
- Rest for a moment, ask for His presence to come and rest in Him.
- Recall the situation that caused the painful emotion.
- If there is a new negative emotion, begin again at Step 1.
When I was very young, I was molested/assaulted by an older man. After my memory of the event resurfaced, my emotional healing process progressed something like this:
- Jesus, I feel anger towards that person. I don’t want to feel this anger anymore. Please take this anger from me, and heal the wound in my soul; I receive your healing. Please give me peace in place of this anger.
Once I was done with this process, I paused for a moment and then recalled the event. I observed that I then felt a different emotion and went through the process again. After several iterations (I don’t remember how many, or the emotions other than anger), I was completely healed of assault against me. It’s now like a distant memory to me, as if it were something written about me, not something that happened to me.
I should also mention that before I learned this emotional healing process, I had thoroughly used Neil Anderson’s Victory Over Darkness and Bondage Breaker. These are excellent books and thoroughly instruct and guide you on how to forgive and reconcile. My opinion is that these books help you immensely, but they don’t always result in helping you heal the resulting wounds.