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Clinical depression, major depressive disorder, or unipolar depression is a psychiatric disorder characterized by an inability to concentrate, insomnia, loss of appetite, anhedonia, feelings of extreme sadness, guilt, helplessness and hopelessness, and thoughts of death. That means depression is a form of sickness. Sickness entered into the world after the fall of man. After the fall man inherited a sinful nature that attracts diseases. Because Christians are with that nature they too get sick. As such, Christians could be depressed. But then the more stringent question would be: should they be depressed. There are certain sicknesses that a good standing Christian should not have. Nonetheless, being a Christian does not mean perfection so they are bound to be sick. This lesson will look at each characteristic of depression in relation to the Bible.
Lack of concentration is caused by fatigue, drugs, anxiety (worries) or brain disorder. If God worked for six days and rested (Gen 2:2) shouldn’t man rest too. Sleeping at least six hours a day is good to rebuild your concentration.
Insomnia is caused by the level of noise in the sleeping area, conditions of sleeping, health issues, stress, drugs, caffeine or smoking. People should endeavor to have a good place to sleep with good conditions where the noise level is acceptable, right temperature, avoid anything that will induce sleeplessness like caffeine and drugs. The Bible does not condemn cigarettes directly but does indicate that anything that will destroy your health should not be used. Caffeine is known for taking away sleep and lack of sleep causes physiological, psychological and spiritual breakdown. When God wanted to make woman, He induced Adam into sleep and surgically took out a rib (Gen 2:21). Sleep is a time in life that drowns some of the worries during the day. Sleep is a time we rest our bodies (Ecl 5: 12; Jn 11:13). When we sleep proportionately we reduce our chances of getting fat (I don’t like this euphemism of weight gain or big), having hypertension and having a weak immune system.
Just like lack of sleep, loss of appetite caused by side effects of drugs will get corrected once the individual stops using the drug. But lack of appetite due to anxiety or some other unrelated health issue is not biblically accepted including anorexia. A woman who is naturally skinny is a blessing and more beautiful than the one who is punishing herself daily with starvation. The only time a Christian should avoid eating is during fasting or that they don’t have. But after that the individual should feed normally per the New Zealand Food Pyramid. Merriment: eating and drinking are encouraged because that is the sum of all your labor (Eccl 2:24; 3:13; 5:18-19; 6:2; 8:15; 9:7). Nevertheless, gluttony is neither good (Prov 25:16). Some people earn money but do not even enjoy their money. What good is it to be storing or saving without enjoying yourself (Eccl 5:11). Listen to me: what you eat, drink and wear is what belongs to you. The rest belongs to others. I am not advocating for hedonism and debauchery because some people have feasted on leisure and pleasures that God has become like an ant to them.
Anhedonia: lack of enjoyment has been one of the causes of stress. They leave the individual sad, feeling always guilty, helpless and hopeless. Friends, it is high time people think about just cooking something nice and buying some nice drinks, sit by their families or friends and just eat, talk religion, politics, sports or as usual the opposite sex. Sit, eat and drink playing draught or dominos.
When individuals feel life passing them by they think they could just solve it by terminating the whole show in suicide. Mistake! You are very important to this world that is why God made you. I mean you are very important if not to others at least to me.
A young girl had told me one day to swear to her that I was not going to tell anyone what she was to tell me. I said if you did not kill anyone I will keep it secret but if you did, do not tell me because I will not keep it. She smiled and asked me to be serious for a minute. She told me that she wanted to commit suicide. Due to the requirement of my job I must report it. So I told her to come tomorrow and I will tell her something. I have shown them they could trust me and they trusted me. So how was I going to break that trust? In the night I lost sleep and rolled from one side of my bed to the other. I ponder all night of the consequences if she killed herself. Then the Lord sent me to Ps 15:4. After reading I prayed: “Lord I will keep your word and will not betray the young lady”.
When she came the next morning I pulled her by the side and asked her if she told anyone else. She said no and I said ok if you don’t tell anyone but hear it outside then come here and shame me in front of everybody. But if you tell anyone let the blame be on you. Now I want you to make me a promise that you will not kill yourself. I narrated to her my struggles in life and those of other people I have known who have made it. The rest of the class was doing some class activity as I spend about 45 minutes talking to her. Tears rolled down her cheeks and she went home. I called her mother to tell her that her daughter was not feeling fine and so she should constantly look after her. Then she told me that she has told her she was going to kill herself. I behaved as if I never heard. When she came again the next day, I joked that I thought they were going to tell me she was dead. She smiled. Everyday she passed in the morning to greet me before going to her other class. One day as we were treating a lesson “should I marry for money or for love” as part of our lesson from Pride and Prejudice she spoke more than anyone. I asked her if life was good. She said “sure”. Later after class I asked her if she would want to kill herself which she screamed: “never”. She has moved from depression to a happy young woman because someone has shown her love, acceptance and value.
To those who are reading me now and depressed; your problems are not new and are not unique. Everybody has problems. The only reason why you are depressed is that you are carrying your own problems on your head. Cast your troubles to God for he cares for you (I Pet 5:7). Would you have been happy to have all the problems you are having now in your dotage or now that you are young so that they may give you the experience? It seems your hope and strength are perishing, and affliction and misery, the wormwood and the gall are increasing no matter how hard you try. Relax, eat and drink the little you have. Go out with friends, play games with family and get involve in righteous merrymaking.
As you know, eating and drinking with a soiled heart will not change a thing. You may speak and dance of delectation but cry within for joy because the world and its things do not give the joy that Christ gives. Have you thought about committing your life entirely to God through Christ Jesus? If you learn to surrender your problems to God then you will never be depressed. Those that are depressed have refused to cast their cares unto God. If you feel depressed read, play with friends, eat and drink and pray to God. After prayers you will feel your life lighter and your appetite to live will increase daily. You must not be born in the portion of joy but God gave it to you. I activated it in Christ. Would you?
Until then; Jesus will give you the abundance of life that has eluded you in the world.
Prince & PA Hamilton Ayuk.