Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you. Isaiah 58:8, NKJV
According to a report in a Journal of the American Medical Association, 8% of all men and 20% of all women will experience serious depression in the course of a lifetime. Some live with it. Some try to escape from it. Many are overcome by it. Their names are those found in the fine print of the obituary columns but seldom will you learn that the real killer is depression.
In his book How To Win Over Depression author Tim LaHaye describes three phases of depression as 1. Discouragement; 2. Despondency; and 3. Despair. Discouragement is the mildest form of depression, and in the early phases there are things that an individual can do to help himself—get outdoors, change your schedule, get exercise, lighten your load, even go out for dinner. God knows it is no sin to get discouraged. Even spiritual giants, on occasion, got discouraged, but if your discouragement is not confronted, it quickly turns into a downhill slide bringing you to the second phase.
When you drift into despondency, you begin to feel overwhelmed. You don’t care, and if you do (and sometimes you care a lot) you still don’t know what to do to emotionally turn the corner. I am thinking of the middle‑aged woman who sat in my office describing her feelings of hopelessness. "My pastor says, 'Snap out of it or else people will stop praying for you,'" she sobbed with tears coursing down her cheeks. "God knows I would if I could."
Feelings of despair are only deepened by the use of alcohol or non-prescription drugs. Neither can you escape it by running from it. This stage is marked by lethargy and inaction. “Hey, come on and play golf with us!” a friend says. “No thanks! I don’t feel like it.” Psychiatrist Dr. William Glasser believes that at times we choose not to feel better because then we would have to deal with personal problems from which we are trying to escape. Sometimes running from God is part of that downhill slide. Read the story of Jonah and you see a man who slept in the storm—not because he was tired, I believe, but because he wanted to escape from reality.
If your despair is because you, like Jonah, are running from God, knock on His door and get things squared away quickly. But if you know your heart and you are at peace with him and your world, you need to talk with your doctor and he or she needs to evaluate you.
Nobody condemns you because you need an antibiotic, right? I wear glasses to help me see better. Sometimes your depression is the result of a chemical imbalance, and medication will allow you to live a normal, productive, and joyful life. And that’s when I say thank God for physicians who correctly diagnose a physical problem and work with us in putting it to flight.
Because you are a unique individual who not only is loved by God but is considered a person of worth and value in His sight, you have to recognize yourself as someone of potential which has never been realized. You have to realize that never, never under any set of given circumstances is life so desperate that there is no solution‑‑whether it is a change of jobs or a change of attitude.
You have to remember when depression knocks at your door that you are among some of God's choicest servants, like Elijah in the Old Testament and no less than the Apostle Paul in the New, who met depression on the field of battle and found an answer. They did and so can you. Yes, there is a solution to depression, whether it is discouragement, despondency or despair.
Resource reading: 2 Corinthians 12.