What causes depression?
Over the past few years I’ve probably read 25 books dealing with depression and emotional issues and have several more that I use for reference. So, I can tell you the causes for depression are many and varied depending on the person. While a person may suffer a chemical imbalance or a biological malfunction, conservative authors who write and counsel from a Bible-based value system believe that depression is most often caused by other factors.
One Harvard research study shows that depression always begins with an external event, even when it is not recognized. Frank Minirth and Paul Meier, authors of Happiness is a Choice, agree and even take this a step or two farther. Both Minirth and Meier are Medical Doctors, trained and certified in psychiatry and hold M.A. degrees from Dallas Theological Seminary.
From their unique perspective, Drs Minirth and Meier say “there are three primary sources of emotional pain…lack of self-worth, lack of intimacy with others, and lack of intimacy with God.”
There are many reasons and environmental factors why people develop a low self-concept, but such individuals are prone to depression. Also when people isolate themselves from others, fail to build close relationships and often find themselves in conflict with others, they will suffer from depression.
Regarding “a lack of intimacy with God” Minirth-Meier write, “We are convinced that deep within each human is a God-vacuum–an inner emptiness that can filled only a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.”
Tim LaHaye in How To Win Over Depression recommends spiritual therapy, neglected by secular counselors. He writes that “one of the great tragedies of our times is that atheistic humanists have so brainwashed our culture into thinking man is an animal without a spiritual dimension to life that most people possess few spiritual reserves upon which to draw in times of mental, emotional or physical distress. Instead, the giant God void within them seriously compounds their problems and hampers their recovery.”
Since I am a preacher, people often come to me for counsel. Sometimes I can offer some simple suggestions that are helpful. Share a book. Or direct them to some other resources. However, many times people’s problems are outside of my professional training and I refer them to a counselor. I always emphasize to find someone who counsels from a Biblical value system.
God’s Word speaks to the three major areas enunciated by Minirth-Meier.
Do you feel unimportant? Lack self-worth? And possess low self-esteem?
The Bible reminds us that people are important to God. We are made in God’s image (Gen. 1:26-27). . Man was created just a little lower than the angels. And higher than the animals! The Psalmist expressed it these words:
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?
For You have made him a little lower than the angels, (Ps. 8:3-5)
Do you feel all alone? Isolated? Unappreciated? Detached from others?
God created us for community. Relationships. Fellowship. And meaningful interaction with others. In the beginning, he said “it is not good for man be alone.” (Gen 2:18) God formed the first family for intimacy. The church is a family of brothers and sisters where you can find others who care, share and help you bear your burdens. (Gal. 6:1-2)
The Bible is filled with helpful counsel on relationships. Creating, Growing, nurturing and repairing relationships are all important themes throughout scripture. Jesus’ “golden rule” (Matt 7:12), even among non-Christians, is considered fundamental to getting along with others.
Do you feel estranged from God? Is there a spiritual void in your life? Do you feel powerless? Helpless? And hopeless?
Jesus came to give us life. Not only eternal life. But “life in all its fullness” (John 10:10). Spiritual communion with God does not eliminate all emotional challenges, but it helps us cope and ultimately overcome. Sadly, too many Christians neglect their spiritual growth. And when they do, they suffer the consequences.
In the next two posts, we are going to explore the spiritual dimension and offer Biblical counsel. In the meantime remember this:
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Ps 46:1).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman