Depression (notes for Wed. 9/21/2011)

Sermon Series:  One
Sermon Title:  Depression
Date:  9/21/11

Sources Used:

Gary R. Collins, Christian Counseling 3d ed.
Jay e. Adams, The Christian Counselor’s Manual, The Practice of Nouthetic Counseling


·         The issue of depression has been documented historically for over 3,000 years
·         Great people and leaders have experienced depression, such as: Winston Churchill, Edgar Allen Poe, Napoleon, Charles Hadden Spurgeon
·         It is the common cold of mental disorders
·         It is by far our most common mental issue

The signs of depression can be grouped into four categories:

  1. Feelings - sadness, self criticism, guilt, shame, worthlessness, helplessness, pessimism, hopelessness, irritibility, loss of temper
  2. Thinking - in their minds they focus on their own incompetence or lack of worth.  Difficult to concentrate, self criticsm, and self condemnation.
  3. Behavior - apathy, lack of motivation, can't face decisions, constant complaining, may neglect personal appearance and hygiene.
  4. Physical health - fatigue, more sleep, loss of energy and interest in everything from intimacy to religion; may even frequently complain of aches and pains.

Many people mask their symptoms with a smile and do not find help, often because they are embarrassed of their symptoms.  However, more than 80% of people improve when they get help.

Depression may come:

  1. As a reaction to an event in life (easily treated)
  2. May come spontaneously from within (if so, will have a high recurrence rate)
  3. As a side effect of medication, change of diet, or illness (depression can set in as a result of the flu)
  4. Change of seasons

Depression in the Bible: (excellent online source:

*  Although the Bible does not speak of depression in a clinical manner, as we are most accustomed to discussing it, the Bible is not ignorant of the topic.  As with our own experience, depression seems to be a common issue with some of the Bible's most popular characters.

Psalms of despair - 69, 88, 102, (read Psalm 43:2)
Solomon - Ecclesiastes, Proverbs 18:14
Moses - Numbers 11:10-15
Elijah - 1 Kings 19
Jeremiah - Jeremiah 20:7-18 and Lamentations
King Saul
David - Psalm 38:6-8
Jesus at Gethsemene - Matthew 26:37-38

  1. Physiological treatments - our society is a heavily medicated culture.  Most people see medication as a primary treatment for depression, yet evidence suggests that exercise, adequate sleep, and nutrition may be as powerful a treatment as any drug.  However, it is not sinful to take medication to treat physiological causes or symptoms of depression.
  2. Identifying and dealing with the causes -
    1. Family issues - may need to correct family tensions or learn to relate to family in a more healthy way.
    2. Stress - learn to manage stress
    3. Feelings of helplessness - may require prioritizing life and work, re-learning optimism, seeking easy wins
    4. Anger or bitterness - expressing your feelings to a third party, coming to grips with the irrationality and sin of revenge
    5. Guilt - seek forgiveness
    6. Thoughts - dealing systematically with unhealthy and/or negative patterns of thinking.
    7. Inactivity - actually beginning to make change
  3. Biblical truth -
    1. Trust in the Word - Psalm 119:25
    2. Have hope - Psalm 42:5, 43:2, Rom. 15:13
    3. Find reasons to rejoice and take comfort in prayer - Phil. 4:4-7
    4. Know that God cares for you - 1 Peter 5:6-7
  4. Find support - the church as a supportive community
  5. Understand that the circumstances may not change, but it is possible for your attitude to change about the circumstances.


Depression is a common issue with multiple causes.  It is not sinful to become depressed.  Because we live in a sinful world and our bodies and minds have been thoroughly impacted by the fall we are all vulnerable.  The challenge in depression is not always in changing the circumstances, but changing the climate of the soul.  When we become depressed our vision and hope for the future is blinded and our mind offers a singular focus on the negative perceptions of the moment. 

The gospel offers steadfast hope for the depressed:

  1. By repenting of sin and receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord we receive the gift of salvation and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.  Though the redeemed will suffer difficult trials and depressing circumstances, we are assured that we are in right relationship to God as Father.  He has promised us His presence and support through any event in life.
  2. Though we are currently grieved by various trials (Romans 8:18, 1 Peter 1:6) the gospel offers the hope of final redemption in Christ Jesus.  Our bodies and the world are not as they will be.  Jesus Christ will return and complete redemption, returning the world, our minds, our circumstances, and our emotions back to right.
  3. Through the gospel the redeemed are drawn together in the Holy Spirit toward Christ centered community, the church.  Though the church struggles (read any New Testament epistle) ultimately it is a redemptive and supportive community of faith.  As a united body of believers, the church is not to abandon the depressed, but rather called to offer support and counsel, to weep with those who weep and to rejoice with those who rejoice (Rom. 12:15).


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