DEPRESSION: PROBLEM OR SYMPTOM?
by: Dr. Charles R. Solomon
This article is directed to those who are struggling with depression and to those who must live with them. I trust I will be able to dispel some of the popular notions concerning the understanding and treatment of this malady which seems to be no respecter of persons. Many Christians, including those greatly used of God in the past and present, have not found victory over this debilitating condition.
I challenge you to back off and look at depression from an entirely new perspective. If you have been troubled by it over a period of years, you will know from experience that the common treatment modalities are less than satisfactory. Many have lived (or existed) with the mistaken belief that there is no permanent cure for it. This is primarily due to the fact that it is viewed from the psychological or psychiatric viewpoint, rather than God’s.
It is of signal importance that we determine whether depression is the problem or merely a symptom of an underlying spiritual issue which has been neither diagnosed nor treated. Indeed, if it is a spiritual issue, it is obvious on the surface that psychotherapy and medication will be palliative, at best. True, there are those who are relieved of their depression by other than spiritual means; but, has the problem been solved?
Depression is frequently defined by those in the behavioral sciences as the result of pent-up anger or internalized hostility. This would mean that the depressed person is a very angry person who is taking out the majority of the anger or hostility on himself (herself). This, of course, assumes that we are not dealing with depression which stems from organic or physiological causes. Given this definition, it would seem obvious that the use of medication to relieve the depression would do little to alleviate the anger which is behind it. But, if we go back one step farther and aid a person in surfacing and dealing with the anger, have we yet approached the problem? What is the support system for anger in the believer?
I submit that functional (non-organic) depression is rooted in the flesh (not the physical body) and must be dealt with as such. This is not to say that all depression in a believer can be attributed to sin in his life; it may have more to do with having been sinned against than with his own sin. He may not be responsible for the action, but he is responsible for his response. If he is attempting to live the Christian life in his own strength (flesh), he is not appropriating the power of the Spirit for the inner and outer conflicts.