Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Spiritual Depression

This article is taken from Guardian Ministries :

Many people are not even aware of it, but they suffer from a low grade mental depression. Researchers are convinced that one of the causes of alcoholism is an underlying state of depression. Drugs are often prescribed in an attempt to relieve this depression.

In my pastoral work over the years as well as in my clinical practice, I have seen people try to mask the symptoms of depression by using other substances. Some use prescription drugs and others use alcohol or street drugs. By the way, the number one cause of depression in America is the over use of alcohol.

Many use food to relieve depression. Overeaters often eat to relieve feelings of low self-esteem and the depression that goes with it.

Marriages are adversely affected when one or both of the partners are depressed. Imagine the irritability that exists when a partner in a marriage is depressed. A further complication is that depressed people often employ negative and pessimistic thinking.

What effect does a depressed parent have on the children? One can only imagine what it is like to live in a home where one or both parents suffer from depression. And, sadly, depression seems to run in families as well. So, it is possible that one of the children will suffer from it.


Clinical depression usually comes in two forms: a) reactive depression and b) endogenous depression. Reactive depression may range from an emotional sadness that comes from a relatively minor event all the way to intense sadness from grief over the death of a loved one.

Endogenous depression is characterized by ongoing deep depression when there seems to be no reason to be depressed. The source is usually a disease or a chemical imbalance.

Common Symptoms to All Depressions:

There are symptoms common to all depressions. They are: sadness, emptiness, the inability to experience pleasure (called anhedonia), low self-esteem, withdrawal, low motivation, irritability, excessive emotional sensitivity and thoughts of suicide.

Many diseases can cause depression. Here are some of the most common ones: asthma, anemia, cancer, malnutrition, premenstrual syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, congestive heart failure, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, infectious hepatitis, ulcerative colitis, multiple sclerosis, chronic infections.

Many psychologists believe that one of the causes or at least an exacerbation of the depression is negative, pessimistic thinking which creates low self-esteem.

When depressions are pronounced a person may experience decreased sex drive, appetite disturbance, impaired concentration and forgetfulness, restlessness, agitation, extreme fatigue and sleep disturbance. There is also an intense anhedonia (inability to experience any pleasure).

In a recorded sermon on depression, I talk about how often low thyroid function is a cause of depression. In fact nearly 8% of the population suffers from low thyroid function called hypothyroidism. Here are some of the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism: weakness, dry skin, coarse skin, lethargy, slow speech, sensitivity to cold temperature, thick tongue, impaired memory, constipation, gain in weight despite little or no appetite, difficulty in losing weight, loss or thinning of hair, muscle pain, joint pain, slowing of mental activity, choking sensations.

Not all of these symptoms have to be experienced to have hypothyroidism. There are several tests that can detect thyroid malfunction. In the message on depression, you will learn about a non-invasive test that can be done in your own home free of charge. There is a great deal of reasonable certainty determining whether you may be hypothyroid. The test was discovered by one the foremost experts on hypothyroidism, Dr. Broda O. Barnes, M.D.


There is another kind of depression -- spiritual depression. It is a malaise that seems to be upon many people from time to time when they feel "cut off" or "far away" from God. While in it they have no enthusiasm for God's Word. They seem "weary in well doing." They seem ready to collapse under persecution.

They sound like the Psalmist when he states, "Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me" (Psa. 42:5). He repeats this refrain over and over. He says his soul thirsts for God (42:2) like a deer longs for water (v.1). He acknowledges that he is in mourning (v.9) and that "deep calls to deep at the sound of thy waterfalls; All thy breakers and thy waves have rolled over me."(v. 7). It is almost as though things are too hard to bear.

What is the solution to this depression? It is self-talk. Psychologists have known for some time now that negative, irrational self-talk in the form of simple declarative sentences often leads to depression. And therefore, appropriate self-talk can lift us out of depression -- unless depression comes from an endogenous source like hypothyroidism.

If you would like to hear The Causes and Cures of Depression, a tape-recorded message on this subject will be sent to you free of charge.

Just write to: GUARDIAN MINISTRIES, P.O. Box 50734, Pasadena, CA. 91115 and request the message on DEPRESSION.

Written by: David L. Antion, Ph.D.

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