From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee. When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I. Psalm 61:2, KJV
“Dear Dr. Sala,” writes a listener, “Please send me your literature on depression. I am 62 years old and am going through this.” Another writes, “I am a retiree of 65 years of age and I have never been so depressed.” While some elderly people struggle with depression, the fact is it takes its toll on every age group. “I am 34 years old and married. I can’t have a baby and I’m so depressed. I feel like my life has ended.” Another writes, “My 36-year-old son, not married and with no real friends, is in the ‘pits’ of depression concerning his life style and work.” Another confides, “I have been plagued with thoughts of killing myself. I am so depressed.”
Among teenagers and young adults depression is a major contributing factor to suicide, now the third leading cause of death among young people age 15-24. For years it was taboo to talk about depression, but in recent years our understanding of depression has allowed many in every walk of life to talk about it, almost as freely as they would should they need to see a doctor as the result of a burst appendix.
We’ve come a long ways in realizing that depression is not necessarily a spiritual problem. In the 60s, Ken Taylor’s Living Bible became popular. Then suddenly, giving a talk at a luncheon, his voice faltered and became gravelly. There’s a connection between your emotions and your voice. Stress produces ulcers in some people. Stress in the voice for others. When he sought the help of a Christian psychiatrist, the doctor suggested that this “voice defect was God’s way of punishing Taylor for tampering with His Word.” His response? He calmly continued the task God had given to him, thanking God for this infirmity as Paul told the Thessalonians we ought to do when we face difficulties.
Dr. William Glasser, a sort of common-sense-psychiatrist and author of Reality Therapy, believes that depression causes a chemical imbalance in the brain, and a chemical imbalance in the brain also feeds depression. They are linked together.
If depression has run in your family, you are more prone to struggle with this at some point in your life than others, but that doesn’t depreciate your value in the sight of God any more than the fact that poor eyesight runs in other families.
Holidays and winter are a major contributor to depression, especially when they are accompanied by loneliness and separation from your family or close friends. At times medication can help those who struggle with this, and thank God for that help, but often we medicate a problem or situation which can be changed and with the change the depression factor begins to dissipate.
If you are facing post-holiday blues bordering on depression, don’t punish yourself or think, “If I were more spiritual, I could snap out of this.” But I do suggest that you force yourself to talk to someone, letting the person know exactly how you feel. You also need to remind yourself of what you’ve probably pushed aside—your situation is not a matter of indifference to God. He knows where you are and will bring you out. You not only need to talk to someone else but also with God. In his times of despair and depression, David turned to God, who gave him deliverance. And finally, get help. To do that you’ve got to overcome the feeling that you are sliding into a pit of despair and either feel incapable of reaching out to someone or you don’t want to.
But whatever you do, don’t give up. With David you can cry out, “When my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Psalm 61:2).
Resource reading: Psalm 61.