Women’s Bible Studies by Topic: DEPRESSION
There are many different views on depression within Christian circles. Some take the stance that it is purely spiritual and can be overcome with enough faith. Some, on the other hand, insist that depression is completely physical and can be managed with medication and lifestyle changes. Lastly, many believe that it is physical and spiritual, and that one must carefully look at both.
What does the Bible say about depression?
“As the hart panteth after the water brooks,
so panteth my soul after thee, O God.
My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God:
when shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my meat day and night,
while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?
When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me:
for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God,
with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holydays.
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted in me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.
O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar.
Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts:
all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.
Yet the Lord will command his lovingkindness in the day time,
and in the night his song shall be with me,
and my prayer unto the God of my life.
I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me?
Why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?
As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me;
while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God?
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him,
who is the health of my countenance, and my God.
From this heartfelt Psalm, we see a pattern of emotions that occur during depression. They are both physical and spiritual. I’ve listed them in order. As you read, make a mental note of which ones you identify with most.
- There is an intense longing for peace. (vs.1–2)
- There is deep sorrow and doubt. (vs. 3)
- There are memories of better times. (vs. 4)
- The soul is downcast, even knowing that hope is in God. (vs. 5)
- There is a remembering of what God has done and will do. (vs. 6–8)
- There is questioning. (vs. 9)
- There is taunting from the enemy. (vs. 10)
- There is still questioning, but an assurance that God will help. (vs. 11)
What a wealth of wisdom is found in this passage! It’s amazing to me that these words, written so long ago, still apply to our lives. God’s Word is everlasting!
In the next list, I’ve taken the truths from Psalm 42 and referenced them with other Scriptures. Take a look:
- We will have intense longings that may go unfulfilled. (Proverbs 13:12)
- There will be times of sorrow and doubt. (2 Corinthians 1:3–4)
- Memories of better times will be a temptation. (Philippians 3:13–14)
- The soul may be downcast, even when we know our hope is in God. (Lamentations 3:19–24)
- It would be better to remember what God has done and what He has promised to do. (Psalm 105:4–6)
- It’s ok to question the Lord, with full reverence of His Sovereignty. (Habakkuk 1:2–3)
- The enemy will be relentless, therefore we need to be prepared. (Ephesians 6:11)
- Even when we have questions, there is full assurance that God is our help and strength. (Psalm 46:1)
Dear Sisters, this is only a glimpse into God’s Word concerning our depression. Could it be we just haven’t taken the time to find the answers in the Bible? It’s sometimes easier to look for comfort in food, alcohol, spending, and other things that bring instant gratification.
But let me encourage you today. Nothing on earth will fulfill our deepest needs and desires. Only the power of God’s Spirit in us will overcome depression.
Now, having said that, I also believe that God has given us doctors and medications when needed. This goes against other teachings that say, as Christians, we should never rely on medicine to heal.
However, remember that depression is both spiritual and physical. There is a legitimate chemical imbalance when a person suffers from chronic depression. Consulting with a trusted doctor is a good idea when battling ongoing depression. Getting a thorough panel of blood work may rule out other conditions as well.
Having said that, it would be equally erroneous to only look at the physical side of depression.
Because we live in a society of “quick fixes,” it’s tempting to pop a pill and hope for the best. But there is a deeper side to depression that cannot be ignored.
“Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression,
but a good word makes it glad.” (Proverbs 12:25)
Could it be, that the Living Word, sharper than any double-edged sword, dividing soul and spirit, is a solution for depression? (see Hebrews 4:12)
We have the Word of God at our fingertips and the freedom to proclaim it, yet oftentimes, it doesn’t seem to be enough to pull us out of our despair.
Why is that?
“Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue…” (2 Peter 1:2–3 NKJV emphasis mine)
Ladies, it is God’s divine power that has given us all things pertaining to life. This includes our struggle with depression. And the Bible goes on to say that through our knowledge of Him, we have access to His divine power.
The Word of God is our ultimate source of knowledge. We get to know God’s character by studying the Bible. And according to the Hebrews 4:12 passage above, it is a “discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
Will you let the Living Word discern the depths of your heart today?
One of my “go-to” places in times of anxiety or depression is the book of Psalms. I have made it a practice to open my Bible to any chapter in the Psalms and read until the peace of God comes over me. Sometimes, His peace comes right away. But other times I just have to keep reading, asking for the Holy Spirit to wash over me. Eventually, the Word speaks directly toward my heart, and the Lord lifts my head above the darkness.
And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.” (Matthew 14:25–27)
What a familiar passage with a beautiful message for us, Ladies! You see, in the midst of the darkness, we have the choice to step out in faith toward Jesus. The alternative is to sink in our doubt and fear. It may feel like we physically cannot take another step, but we can. In the words of Jesus, “It is I; be not afraid.”
The beautiful part about this story, is that when Peter did falter and begin to sink, he only needed to cry out and Jesus immediately stretched out His hand and caught him.
Sisters, are we going to sink, or take a step of faith out of our boat of depression? What practical actions can we take, to keep ourselves from drowning in the depths of our sorrows?
- Cry out to Jesus…. “Lord, save me!” (and believe that He will immediately offer His hand)
- Read the Word until the worst of it passes.
- Reach out to a trusted friend, preferably an older woman who can offer prayer and wisdom.
- Find a trusted, Christian doctor/naturopath and follow his/her advice.
- Get sunlight and fresh air for at least 20 minutes per day.
- Drink water. (add slices of orange, lemon, or lime) Limit caffeine and other stimulants.
- Eat what God made. Try eating a fruit and vegetable with every meal or snack.
- Get up and move. Even a ten minute walk or twenty jumping-jacks can motivate you.
Please know that any and all advice comes from the Bible, personal experience, testimonies from others, and external resources. As I’ve said before, I am not a doctor or licensed professional of any kind. If you are in deep despair, with thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please call 9–1–1.
It’s true that depression is no laughing matter. Nor is it automatically cured with positive thinking. The Lord can and does heal. But He is also Sovereign. And sometimes, He allows us to go through things for reasons we do not understand.
As we close today, I’d like to share portions of a couple of testimonies. These ladies have been gracious enough to allow me to post their thoughts in order to help others. I pray these stories will encourage you and assure you that you aren’t alone.
“I’ve always heard that depression is “repressed anger.” I can speak from experience that that was true for me, especially during my teen and college years. In my home, one was not allowed to express anger, especially when it was directed, in part, at parents. As an adult, I have had doctors prescribe medication for my depression, but I never experienced any success with it — only negative side effects. However, I don’t believe “repressed anger” is the only cause of depression. Physical causes, like after childbirth, I believe are just as valid as any emotional/mental cause. Plus, some of us may be genetically predisposed to suffering from depression. I remember my parents and grandparents on both sides displaying symptoms of depression. Biblically we know people experienced it. Saul suffered from it. And, if the Psalms are any indication, David did as well. It appears that David could go from an almost hysterical feeling of joy (dancing before the ark) to the depths of despair (and who wouldn’t after being the cause of the death of your child). Depression seems to be a broad almost vague term doesn’t it. However, that doesn’t make it any less real to those who suffering.” (shared with permission)
“Let me start by saying I believe there are different types and it can be any of the things you mentioned: Spiritual (attack or being out of sync with God), Mental (triggered by grief or some other trauma), or Physical (a chemical imbalance in the brain or, like with ADD, things not firing right). Mine is 90% physical, and triggered by stress, not enough sleep, or being overwhelmed. I first realized I was struggling with depression in 8th grade, along with ADD. (If you look up “types” of ADD, mine is based in my limbic system, which is the emotional center of the brain, so it makes sense that they would walk hand in hand). A shortened history is that I struggled with depression all through adolescence, with almost 0 support because “Christian’s shouldn’t be depressed” (or so I was lead to believe) so I wondered what was wrong with me. ..A physically trying pregnancy, plus 3 toddlers, plus trying to move back to California and hubby changing airplanes and the training involved, triggered me BADLY. The stress was the highest it had ever been in my life. I wanted to try to do it without meds, and made it 2 years. MISERABLE years. I functioned, but barely. I couldn’t take care of myself as much as I needed, and so the mantra became to just “get through it”. I finally went on medication again about 9 months ago, and I’m doing better, but the stress on my husband and I hasn’t lessened at ALL, so we’re still just trying to “get through it”, right now.” (shared with permission)
Depression has a way of making us feel like we are completely alone. The dark cloud seems to cover any glimpse of light. However, we are NEVER alone. There is always sunlight beyond the clouds.
For He is right behind the clouds,
just beyond the storm,
waiting patiently for us
to reach out our arms…
Ladies, if I can leave you with only one thing today, it’s this:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.
His mercies never come to an end.
They are new every morning.
Great is His faithfulness.
As we close, I’d like to share with you a beautiful version of the hymn, It Is Well. I pray it will touch your heart today and bring a sense of God’s perfect peace. I pray you will have victory over depression and genuinely be able to declare, “It is well with my soul.” Listen Here: *It is Well with Kristene DiMarco
Always an email away,