Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Bondage of Depression - A Root Cause Analysis


I'm not a psychologist, but I know a bit about depression. I lived intimately with it for most of my life, but God freed me from the bondage of depression years ago. This was not an overnight process. God lead me through it step by step. Occasionally, it rears it's ugly head, and if I'm not careful, I'll find myself in funk for days, even a week or more if forget the lessons I learned.  So, in the spirit of 2 Corinthians 1:3-5, we're going to delve into this phenomena called depression.

John Piper has an edited transcription on depression, entitled Can Christians be Depressed? The first postulation posed in the article states that the root of depression lies in the fact that something is wrong with the depressed person's hope. John Piper states: "All discouragement and depression is related to the obscuring of our hope, and we need to get those clouds out of the way and fight like crazy to see clearly how precious Christ is."

What?  Is this man actually serious?  As if depression and discouragement are even at the same par, the same level, or even slightly alike; that it's just about me refusing to know how precious Jesus is.  So, there's a little fluffy cloud of despair obscuring my vision of preciousness of Jesus. Fine. I'll just change my mind about that simple fact and puff that silly little cloud away with a breath of fresh air and everything should just clear right up.

In my opinion, John Piper knows as much about how to battle depression as he believes in the Man in the Moon. Comparing depression to a loss of biblical hope, let alone despair, is both insulting and misguided at the same time.  Clearly, this man has never been balls to the wall depressed.


The Truth About Depression
Any good psychologist or psychiatrist will tell you (excluding of course, any physical aliments such as hormonal imbalances) that there are three root causes of depression:
  • Fear
  • Anger
  • Loss
I would add a fourth cause, that of satanic oppression, but that is a subject for another post.

Nevertheless, if they're really good, they'll say 'unresolved fear', 'unresolved anger' and 'unresolved loss' or possibly even 'great loss.' However, if you spend any time at all researching depression on the Internet, you'll find a whole lot of reasons for depression other than those. But spend just a bit of time considering those other reasons and you'll find that you can pigeon-hole all of them into one of the following: fear, anger or loss.

However, the actuality is this: fear is the root cause of both anger and loss.

Consider for a moment: a loved one has a terminal illness, which leaves you depressed for many, many weeks. You know they're going to die, and you won't have them any more. You wonder, how you will cope with out them? You wonder, how are you going to fill the void their death will leave in your soul? Will the void destroy you? Will you survive emotionally? How will you pay the medical and funeral bills?

What exactly are we describing here? -- Fear.

Consider again: a loved one has been involved in a tragic automobile accident. They have multiple, and severe injuries. The Doctor cautions you that they may not make it through the night. Your mind races: will they live, walk again, smile again? Will I have them back? And why did this happen? Because a drunk driver hit them head on. Your anger rages against that man.

What is at the root of this anger? -- Fear.

There are many forms of loss and anger - some greater, some lesser than others. But if you will be patient and are willing to do some serious, soul wrenching introspection, then you may just find that at the root of your depression there lies unresolved anger, loss and/or fear. Furthermore, I'm willing to bet that at the root of any of your unresolved anger or loss you will find one or more fears.

God has a few specific words about fear:
Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. (1 John 4:15-18
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

... Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. (1 Corinthians 8:1)
While we may believe that courage is the opposite of fear, it is love the defeats fear since love edifies.  There is no fear in edification, for that which builds you up does not and is not tearing you down.  Courage simply says "I will stand in the face of danger, regardless of the potential for loss."  Love says, "there is no loss, there is only adding of strength and fortitude - love says 'I will build you up.'"

What we need to understand about fear, more specifically - unresolved fear, is this: fear involves your perception of personal harm towards yourself - which is the opposite of love. Whether it involves a form of punishment or a form of loss, and the consequences of that loss, fear revolves around you and yourself, or possibly those of which you're responsible. Fear is a reflection of the harm that you believe to be fact, it is your understanding of how the situation is harmful to you.

Furthermore, your unresolved fears reflect the limit of your faith in God to meet your needs: they demonstrate the boundaries of your trust, the limits of your belief and the depth of your love for God, '... because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.'

You may believe that you love God very much, but if you are hanging onto unresolved anger, loss or fear, then those things speak very loudly to the extent you're willing to trust and believe Him, and in essence, love yourself because He first loved you.

God designed fear to be helpful to us, but only within the context of His sovereignty and grace. It is never intended that it should remain unresolved. Anger, and it's root cause fear, must be dealt with, and it must be dealt with immediately.  Fear is always dealt with in truth:
Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity. (Ephesians 4:25-27)
To harbor anger and fear, is to regard sin in your heart, it is falsehood. To let the sun go down on your anger is give the devil a place to sow the seeds of depression, it gives the devil a foot hold for oppression in your life.

Search your heart, find your angers, your fears, your losses. Let go of that which hinders you, and seek God's face through His word in order to be strengthened and healed. Seek the ministry of your Elders and your Godly friends; confess and repent of your sins.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

3 comments:

Dr.palin said...

It is not true that the old men and women are more susceptible to depression than their younger counterparts and it must be mentioned that an individual is said to suffer from depression when he exhibits symptoms, namely, hopelessness, chronic tiredness, appetite loss, loneliness, sadness et al for one week or more. Therefore, it is important for you to get hold of right information on depression related details before starting to treat your depression.

Anonymous said...

Well for me, Piper is right. Depression boils down to hopelessness. Not being hopeful in the Goodness and workings of God and His salvation. Rom 8:28

David Means said...

You're correct that within depression, there is hopelessness. But that hopelessness can have nothing to do with one's viewpoint of Christ or God's working. Knowing the hope we have in Christ doesn't change depression.

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