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Depression: Definition and Treatment

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hope Blog
11 Aug

Depression: Definition and Treatment

What is Depression?


Depression is the most complicated of all our emotions and yet one of the most common psychological problems a person can experience.  Someone has called it the “common cold” of the emotions.  It’s a feeling of gloom or sadness that is usually accompanied by a slowing down of the body.  It is not just in the mind, but is experienced throughout the whole body.  It’s in the stomach as much as in the head.  We are all designed to experience depression.  At some time in their lives, probably two of every ten people will experience depression seriously enough to hinder their normal way of life.


Warning Signs



  • Noticeable change in eating habits
  • Sleep too much or can’t sleep at night
  • Loss of interest in things once enjoyed
  • Loss of energy, fatigue
  • Feelings of worthlessness, guilt
  • Using alcohol or drugs to feel better
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide,  wishing to die
  • Overwhelming feeling of sadness or hopelessness, uncontrolled crying
  • Chronic negativism, feeling irritable
  • Trouble concentrating or making decisions


Can Our Attitudes and Behaviors Cause Depression?


Very definitely.  For example, examine the following list, and see how many of these issues have caused you depression in your past:


Discontentment: A tendency to envy others and be dissatisfied with what you haven’t got or to resent what you have got.

A faulty set of values: Misjudging what’s important in life, and a tendency to focus too much on petty issues.

Faulty beliefs: Tendency to believe everything should go your way or that life should only present you with its blessings.

Faulty reactions: To be overly sensitive about what is said or done to you, or to be immature and not able to put things in proper balance.

Forgiveness not processed: Ignoring God’s instructions related to asking for forgiveness, forgiving yourself and forgiving others.


If you get depressed regularly without any apparent cause, the first step is to get a good medical evaluation and try to discover if there’s a physical cause for your depression.  If there is, have the depression taken care of with appropriate treatment.

If the depression is reactive, caused by a loss of some sort, there are several things you can do.  Minor depressions are usually temporary provided you trust God with them and don’t feed them with too much introspection.


If, however, you feel your depression is more serious, try the following steps:


            Step 1: Identify the loss with all its implications

            Step 2: Accept the loss, do your grieving, and try to put the loss in some perspective

            Step 3: Then get on with your life


Can I Pray My Way Out of a Depression?


It depends on the depression, or more importantly on what’s causing it.  If it’s caused by sin, yes, you can pray your way out of it.  The act of prayer involves confession, repentance, and the receiving of forgiveness, so you remove the cause of the depression.  You can get up from that kind of praying and really believe you’ve received forgiveness.  Keep in mind what I’ve just mentioned, though, that the feeling of depression may not go away immediately.


Praying also helps to put things into perspective.  It gets you in touch with the resources of God, too.  But I don’t want to give the impression that every time you’re depressed, you can just pray and it will go away.  It’s not that easy.  But prayer needs to be an integral part of your healing from depression.


What Are Self-Management Strategies?




  1. Planning your strategy for coping
  2. Recognize where negative thoughts come from
  3. Replace negative thoughts with Biblical truth
  4. Ask God for wisdom, hope and strength to change and heal
  5. Choose to believe God’s truth more than feelings
  6. Choose to rest in your soul about yourself
  7. Accept God using depression to grow your faith
  8. Allow time for rest and recovery


Can You Give Some Keys to Minimizing Depression in the Future?


Every depression can be used by God to grow our faith and to teach us important lessons. While we can minimize future seasons of depression in the future, we can’t eliminate them.  Here are four ways to lessen future depressions:




  1. Learn to monitor your thoughts in such a way as to produce a healthier and more positive way of thinking.  Besides helping you in your present depression, the exercises I have described, if also carried out during times when you are not depressed, can prevent the onset of your next depression. “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3
  2. Learn to recognize the connection between your negative thinking and feelings of depression, and cut off those thoughts earlier.  We can’t ignore our thinking habits.  Many depressed individuals have practiced negative thinking for years.  It has become a life-style for them.  They have a lot of unlearning to do before they can avoid or minimize future depressions. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
  3. Think more realistically and honestly, and be more reality based.  Fantasy and imagination can feed expectations and lower our tolerance for loss.  Ultimately, we all need to realize life is full of losses.  The only abiding hope is that which God gives us in Christ.  He is our reality.  “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life.” Matthew 6:25
  4. Prevent or minimize future depressions by developing scripturally accurate beliefs. Our beliefs are the framework and foundation of our life. If I believe I am a failure, I will feel and act like a failure.  Every Christian needs to rewrite his or her life scripts and make sure God is a part of them.  We believe God is in control and that Christ is our Savior.  This should create a more hopeful outlook so that we can say with Paul, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”  (Phil 4:11 NIV)




All of us feel a little blue now and then, and that is normal.  But some of us feel sad or depressed most of the time.  That is not normal.  The 20 questions below were developed by Dr. William Zung of Duke University to be used by people for self-diagnosis.  Make copies for each member of your family.  Score the answers.  The results just might unmask depression and help you or a loved one take the first step toward getting better.


If your answer is:                                                                          Score

None or little of the time                                                                    1

Some of the time                                                                                 2

A good part of the time                                                                      3

Most of the time                                                                                 4


Choose from the above responses by indicating 1, 2, 3 or 4 beside each question.

___      1.         I feel downhearted, blue and sad.

___      2.         Morning is when I feel the worst.

___      3.         I have crying spells, or feel like it.

___      4.         I have trouble sleeping through the night.

___      5.         I don’t eat as much as I used to.

___      6.         I don’t enjoy looking at, talking to and being with attractive women or men.

___      7.         I notice that I am losing weight.

___      8.         I have trouble with constipation.

___      9.         My heart beats faster than usual.

___      10.       I get tired for no reason.

___      11.       My mind is not as clear as it used to be.

___      12.       I don’t find it easy to do things I used to do.

___      13.       I am restless and can’t keep still.

___      14.       I do not feel hopeful about the future.

___      15.       I am more irritable than usual.

___      16.       I do not find it easy to make decisions.

___      17.       I feel that I am not useful and needed.

___      18.       My life is not very full.

___      19.       I feel that others would be better off if I were dead.

___      20.       I do not enjoy the things I used to.


___             TOTAL


Total the numbers in the left hand column.  A score below 40 is the normal range.  A score between 40 and 47 indicates a mild depression.  If you scored 48 or above, a professional evaluation should be considered.   If you scored above 56, you should definitely seek help.


Mike Marecle