Monday, September 8, 2014

Sometimes Depression IS a Faith Issue

Okay, I write this post with a bit of trepidation, simply because I have found that many friends read my posts with some kind of glasses on seeing only what they want or expect to see. And if depression and anxiety and such are hot-button topics for you, and you read this way, you'll come away mad at me. So here's my request: please actually read my words, all of them, before you react.
I just read an article titled “4 Myths Christians Need to Stop Believing About Depression.” And I got a little annoyed. Here are the author's four myths:
- Depression is a faith issue.
- Depression can be prayed away.
- Depression isn't physical.
- Depression shouldn't be talked about.
So, here's the thing. The last one is absolutely a myth that should be done away with. The other three . . . maybe not so much.
The problem is that all emotional struggles (depression, anxiety, anger, etc.) are very complex. Our emotions are part of our “Soul,” the part of our Self that is the interaction of our spirit and our flesh. They are affected by both. They are not confined to one realm or the other.
So, is depression physical? I think it is always physical in that, in its essence, it is a physiological phenomenon. Our bodies physiologically slow down in order to process a loss perceived by our brain. But more often than not, its cause is not physical, and therefore its cure is not always physical.
Is depression a faith issue? Sometimes. Sometimes, our lack of faith causes us to perceive situations in our life as a loss or a threat, which triggers the physiological reaction leading to the feelings of depression, anxiety, or anger.
Can depression be prayed away? Sometimes. Depressive episodes are different in every person – and often different in even the same person at different times.
I've written about my own experiences with depression. Basically, what I've come to see about myself is that my body's default settings are just different than the average person – I start closer to the bottom of the depression pit than most, so it takes less of a push to get me there. But I've also learned that most of the triggers that push me are of my own mental making, and growing in my faith has eliminated most of them. So, for me, some of my depression IS a faith issue, and it CAN be prayed away.
But not all of it. I've been on medication before -- sometimes it wasn't a good thing, but sometimes it was. Sometimes it kept me from killing my children, a very good thing. But every person is different, and every depressive episode (or panic attack, or explosion of rage) in every person is different as well.
I just don't want to jump on the bandwagon of people comparing depression to diabetes or something. "You wouldn't hesitate to take medication for diabetes; why hesitate for your depression?" Because they are not always analogous phenomena. There is a difference. And it takes a great deal of wisdom to understand the nature of your own condition.
Just sayin'.

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