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THE CAUSE AND CURE OF DEPRESSION

Depression is one of the major features of modern life. With the increasing pressures upon people, the continual rise in depression is inevitable - and does not look like decreasing in the foreseeable future. With this in mind, those feeling this increasing stress and tending to slip into depression need to be aware of what is happening to them. I hope to show the root cause of the condition, warn them of what they should not do, and hopefully show them the right Christian attitude to the increasing demands that are being made upon them.

The Symptoms often include - lack of energy, pessimistic thoughts, lack of sociability, slower speech and thinking. It can cause sleeplessness giving rise to hallucinations. In manic depression, the person engages in furious activity, but eventually collapses back into depression.

Serious depression can result in admission into a psychiatric ward, and in severe cases of non-communication electro-convulsive treatment may be administered etc.

Drugs can cause serious side effects and are not very effective. All anti-depressant drugs are as effective as each other - there is little between them. 50-60% of people are helped, but so are 30-40% who took a sugared pill! So they are only effective for 20-30% of those that take them.

There are two forms of depression - reactive and endogenous. Although arising in different ways, we will show later that they are from the same cause.

There are two further situations - exhaustion and loneliness - which we will also deal with later.


So how should depression be treated from a Christian point of view?

The Biblical point of view
What does the Bible say about depression? Little or nothing! It provides no support to those who become truly depressed from whatever cause. Paul went through terrible trials (2 Cor. 11:22-30) yet there is not a glimmer of depression in his letters. Indeed Paul instructs Christians to "Rejoice always in the Lord" (Philip.4:4), and so important is this that he repeats it "Again I say rejoice"! Two verses later again he instructs "Be anxious for nothing". Only a few verses further on he gives clear directives for the sound Christian life; "Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are noble...if there is any virtue, and if there is anything praiseworthy, think on these things."

Thus the Christian is instructed to have a very positive mind set. Therefore, is it not obvious that the Christian who sinks into despair and despondency for whatever cause is actually disobeying the Bible's clear requirments. He is NOT fixing his eyes upon Jesus and the glorious hope of the future that is a continual refrain in the Bible. Read Philip. 4:4-13 and check if those who are depressed are obeying God's word to mankind.

There is also little about depression in the Old Testament. Asaph was despondent when he saw the lives of the rich until he went into the House of the Lord! There he took a step back from his personal viewpoint and saw it all from God's long term plan - and his heart was lifted (Ps. 73:1-17).

David was persecuted by King Saul and felt low at times. But on one such time, he asks "Why are you cast down, O my soul?" (Psalm 42:5) Notice that this is a question, implying that the heart had no business in being cast down. He then gives his heart the very positive instruction "Hope in God.." Thus, his reaction to depression was exactly the same as Asaph's - a drawing back from his own little viewpoint and looking towards God and seeing life from His perspective.
What may seem to be an exception, in Ps. 6:6 David calls upon the Lord to rebuke his troublesome enemies. But this is not the usual long term depression. David was a fighter against great odds and he knew the Lord was with him.

Spurgeon was NOT depressed!
When Christians becoming depressed is being discussed, often the examples of Cowper and Spurgeon are given as evidence that even Christians as great as these also suffered from depression. Quoting such examples allows Christians who are depressed to justify their condition by saying to themselves at least - and possibly to others - "If such a godly Christian as Spurgeon was depressed, then it is quite acceptable for me to also be depressed. It is, after all an illness, not a spiritual condition". Having looked into it, I am now convinced he was never depressed in that way whatsoever.
Before examining his situation, I would point out that although Cowper (I very briefly consider below) or any other Christian may have bouts of depression, that, like any other unbiblical action, does not therefore justify them. It is still unbiblical and simply shows that even great Christians can fall into sin. But to return to Spurgeon;
In one of his sermons on Philip 4:4, he makes the strong statement "I want you to notice, dear friends, that this rejoicing is commanded. It is not a matter that is left to your option.... You are commanded to rejoice, brethren, because this is for your profit." Such a statement from so fine a Christian made me question whether he had really suffered from depression.
I re-read the two chapters in his 2nd volume of (auto)biography (12, 24) describing his sufferings, and it became very obvious that in no way could Spurgeon ever be classed as being depressed in the way that people behave today who are classified as "depressed", for they are often listless and can hardly talk for many months and years. By contrast, his whole life, to the very end, was one of enormous energy and productivity - a huge writing output, setting up training colleges, orphanages, etc. This is NOT characteristic of present day depressives.
The opening words of Ch. 12 note his first illness was due to "sheer overwork". This required complete rest for recovery. Spurgeon also had many days even months of severe pain from his illness of gout that gave him little sleep. All this would have made him feel low and aggrieved that he was so limited by his medical condition, but this is still not depression; once he felt the slightest return of strength he would be back at his old level of high activity. Although he used the word "depression" himself (p.410), it was really exhaustion from overwork and severe pain causing lack of sleep more than anything else. At no time did he ever indulge in self-pity, but was constantly interested in others as his biography makes very clear. Indeed, the quote given above about rejoicing strongly suggests that he would have been very aware of the difference between feeling low from exhaustion and indulging in self-pity.

[Addendum 3 June 2014. I mentioned to a friend that Spurgeon was never depressed, but he insisted that he was after the catastrophe at the Surrey Music Hall. False cries of "Fire" by a group of malicious men caused a panic and in the crush seven people died. This deeply affected Spurgeon who was low for a few days. I looked at his Autobiography on this incident and there was a reproduction of a letter he wrote to his mother in which he said "... I was hot with grief but it is all right now - all right. ... no unaided man in the universe could(?) have been as have as calm and fearless as I by God's grace.... I am now almost restored to spirits..". The whole letter is far from being one from a depressed person.
I also looked up "Depression" under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual which is the "Bible" of the psychiatric profession. It gave 15 symptoms of depression of which if you have 10 or more you would be classed as seriously depressed. One was "... if you have felt low for more than 2 weeks." Spurgeon wrote his letter 5 days after the event.
I would hope that my claim that Spurgeon was never depressed in his life is reasonably proven. Laid very low for a few days by a great tradgedy - but not depressed]

To conclude, self-pity and depression are still sins that Christians must avoid, and that depression in other Christians, whether great or not, must not be used to provide an excuse. Some great Christians have been found to have a variety of sins. Does this allow other Christians to do likewise? It is the Bible that should provide the standard, not the lesser level of other Christians.
I have written this section to both prevent these examples being misused, and furthermore, with regard to Spurgeon, to "set the record straight" and exonerate him from this unjust charge.

William Cowper.
Regarding Cowper, since writing the "first edition" of this page, I have read an account of his life in Gaius Davies' Genius, Grief and Grace. Davies asks "Why was he not healed?" and replies "It is part of the larger mystery of suffering, and there cannot be a final answer."
With this I disagree. To anyone with the least ability to look at depression from the perpective of TBC, the huge contrast between his life and lifestyle and his Christian thinking simply shouts at you as you read. I will leave the reader to study any account of his life and then see if he can see why he should have become so severly depressed!
[ADDENDUM 25 OCTOBER 2011 - COWPER'S DEPRESSION EXAMINED.
Rather than leave the reader "in the air", I think it is instructive to examine the life of Cowper, and show the real reason behind his continual bouts of depression even after becoming a Christian and having close fellowship with John Newton.
He lost his mother when he was only 6 years old. This would have had a dramatic effect upon him, and Gaius Davies says that this could have been the root cause of his mental problems in later life. However, he admits that he would not go so far as to say that "his nervous system was ruined for life." I would comment that there are many who have lost a parent at a very young age, and this has NOT prevented them from becoming well balanced and mature members of society.
He was bullied at one school but was happy at Westminster School. He trained as a lawyer, but was lazy and never earned himself a living all his life! Indeed, for the rest of his life, he never worked, but sponged off his rich family, relatives and friends. The life he led was with "young rakes" who enjoyed nothing but "hard drinking, their loves and their request for fame." Davies admits "More important was his failure to achieve anything worthwhile as a writer or as a poet." I would add that even more impotant than these was his failure to achieve the dignity of earning himself a living!
To me, it is essential for a man's self respect, and the respect of his peers, that he should earn a living and thereby take his place in society; Cowper had every opportunity of doing this, but he failed badly to do so.
When we consider the requirements of the Bible that a man should work for his living, and contrast this with Cowper's wilfull idleness and gaiety (he loved dancing) here surely is the root of his continuing depression. The contrast, which he must have been fully aware of, between his Christian faith and his lifestyle was surely the cause of his many relapses. The lofty ideals of the Christian faith do not sit well with a strong sense of guilt about one's inadequate conduct in this life!
What is surprising to me is that in his book Davies, a psychiatrist who would have interviewed many depressed people, fails to connect these two contrasting factors in Cowper's life that to me fully explains why he was so depressed.

So how should a Christian treat depression?

To do this we must find the real cause of depression, not the theoretical medical causes proposed by psychiatrists/psychologists. Before we do so, let us examine some of the features of depression that are common to all cases.

Anger and rage. One of the common elements, little realised by either sufferers or the general public, is the presence of anger in the person. This is a known fact amongst psychiatrists and psychologists, but it is rarely mentioned in counselling sessions. Is this because it is an emotion and not an "illness" and therefore should be under the control of the patient?

If it is an illness, then it makes it into a medical "problem" that the doctor can deal with. However, if it is a moral/personality problem, then it makes the patient responsible for his behaviour and he can be encouraged (urged, instructed?) to get it under control. Words such as guilt, responsibility, maturity etc. are anathema to psychiatrists who are always seeking a medical cause to explain away the bad and irresponsible acts of their patients. Hence the reliance on drugs to deal with a variety of what are really personality problems.

This anger is not only against others (who will not give them their way) but it is against the person himself, because he is angry that he has made a mess of his life and feels he needs to be punished for his bad behaviour and inadequacies.

I give one example of anger. Robert Law, when a GP, acted as a locum for another doctor. A missionary came in and asked for a repeat prescription for his anti-depressant tablets. Robert said "I will not give them to you until you tell me what you are angry about." He replied with annoyance "I am not angry about anything". "Very well, go away and don't come back until you are prepared to tell me what you are angry about."
After a silence, he told him that he had been extremely happy on the South African mission field, but his wife's illness had forced him to come home. He punished her by excessive good works and depriving her of his company, and he punished himself for his own self-pitying resentment.
Notice that Robert had never seen this man before, but knew that if he was depressed, he was angry about something in his life - basically, "I can't get my own way".

An honest admission of anger by a depressant now cured.
In April 2005 I had a brief "thank you" email from "JK" for this section on depression which she had found very helpful. Further correspondence gave an extremely open and honest admissions about the very important part that anger and self-centredness had played in her depression.
She said -
"My comments re the anger really related to myself - I personally always felt the need for attention and a strong desire for praise. The times when I never had this, I'd feel angry like I was a failure in some way. As I grew more and more within myself, I locked these feelings away. I felt I lacked self confidence. I didn't like myself so could never imagine why other people would like me. I became extremely volatile and everything became intensely black and white. I either felt really happy or really sad. I could feel really calm and relaxed or really stressed and angry. I could be really strict with myself, say diet wise for example or I could totally do the opposite and let myself go, purposely over eat or drink. Something I recognised was I found it extremely difficult to plod along 'middle of the road' - it had to be all or nothing, the best or not at all and I could never understand why. I am a very organised person but also learnt my personality was in someway obsessive.
From the age of about 15 (I am now 34) I felt a strong desire to be centre of attention and yet at the same time, hated being in the limelight because I didn't like myself and lacked confidence. I purposely drank before I went out with friends for a night on the town, not excessively but everytime to lose some of my inhibitions because only then did I feel happy and comfortable with myself. This pattern continued throughout my life to the point I kept the sadness hidden from everyone and gradually the anger I felt was resentment for other people being able to do the things I so desperately wanted to but never felt I could - in the end I lost a good friend because the anger and strong desire for attention on me, caused me to be untruthful during my depression, I took advantage of my friends kind good nature and made up stories about my life at that time - I wanted her to worry about me, I wanted to say I'd done things that would make her angry and hate me, like I wanted to punish myself - anyway it all came to a head and thankfully now, it made me take stock of things. My friend forgave me but we never resumed the friendship. I sought professional help and they would not touch on the fact that I had this anger inside and that I felt I needed to be punished .... in the end, with the support of my family and best friend, I turned my own life around.

COMMENTS - This exchange says it all. It completely confirms the presence of anger in depression - rarely publicly acknowledged by the professionals; it would imply that the patient IS responsible for his behaviour in failing to control his selfishness. Notice also the admission of complete self-centredness throughout this time. This is THE major feature of depression.
I also noted that she confirms Robert's claim that depressed people KNOW they are behaving sinfully and therefore feel they have to be punished, even if they have to punish themselves.
In addition, she was always "up or down" - never prepared to slog along the middle of the road. This is one of the most noticeable features of "mental illnesses". Drug addicts crave for excitement in their lives and cannot stand the ordinary routine aspects of normal life - see BAGFY p.136.8.
Notice also that the professionals would not deal with her anger. In the end, with no real help from the medical world, she eventually cured herself!

Two other situations that can arise.

Exhaustion is NOT depression!

If a person has worked very hard for long periods probably under great pressure, they will eventually become totally exhausted and unable to continue. This is quite different from depression. There are two features.
(i) Recovery always comes after quite a short period of rest.
(ii) A reasonably positive and cheerful attitude is usually maintained as the person recovers.
In contrast, depression arises not from hard work, but usually from obvious external circumstances that overwhelm the person. They feel they lack the emotional strength to face up to the problem and deal with it in a mature way. The depression can last for a very long time. In fact, a short period of rest has little effect and can make matters worse as the person should engage in reasonable activity to distract his mind from self-centred thinking.
Exhaustion and depression should not be confused, and in practice can be clearly distinguished by any observant person, particularly if they know whether the person is normally well balanced or inclined to be depressed.

Loneliness

The two World Wars that this nation has gone through slaughtered millions of our healthiest young men. The result was that for more than one generation, many very eligible young women could not find a partner and therefore lived out their lives alone and unmarried. The very natural and very strong desire to be happily married and have children is a dominant factor in a woman's life. If this is not achieved, a huge portion of her life is unfulfilled, and for the rest of her days she will hide a deep feeling of sadness and loneliness that few may realise. Whenever I see this situation, every time it creates in me very deep feelings of sadness for them.
Unfortunately, the tendency towards the male macho image that young men often project of themselves does not help. It creates a view of marriage that is likely to lack any tenderness and affection towards their spouse (or partner these days). With the self-centred culture we have nowadays, many young men will be prepared to have "affairs" but no long term commitment. So we have girls having to go to "rave-ups" and drinking in bars where the men are, in their search for a partner. These are not the healthiest of places to find a sincere and loving partner to help with forming a stable family. Many prefer to remain single rather than demean themselves seeking a man in such circumstances.
Some men will marry for a variety of reasons, but will react strongly to any request to spend time with their spouse and children if it interferes in the slightest with their work or sporting activities. "Nagging" about this will very likely drive him further away. (I have had one woman in tears over her husband showing her no affection and spending long hours fishing with his (macho) mates.)
So, many women can be lonely both inside and outside of marriage. This can, indeed, result in depression, and medical help may be sought.
The sad thing is is that there is no easy answer; the counsellor cannot conjure a suitable man out of the air!
Again, we can only advise that the negative feelings of sadness must not be dwelt upon. A positive attitude must be practised and outgoing relationships developed. This is far from easy, but the alternative - entering into self pity - will have both immediate and long term detrimental effects; the descent into the spiral of depression can all too easily entered into. The deeper it is entered, the more difficult it is to emerge from. Whenever the first few steps into self-pity are taken, the warning bells should ring loud and clear to look outward for the good of others.
Here is where membership of a loving church can be so helpful in making good friends. They can help by pointing people towards their glorious God that knows all our problems and who has promised He will be with us all out lives - and then for all eternity.

The real cause of depression.
In "Breakdowns are good for you" (BAGFY), I give several cases of depression and their eventual return to normality. Since then, as part of running the Association of True Biblical Counsellors (ATBC) I have examined a number of additional cases that appear in articles in magazines, newspapers etc. Very much to my surprise, in every case, there was an almost identical sequence that each stage of the depression generally followed;

(i) The person records the progress of his "illness" in some detail, from childhood to recovery.
(ii) They are told by their doctor/psychaitrist that they are "ill" with depression.
(iii) This is attributed to "a chemical imbalance" - usually serotonin.
(iv) They express their great gratitude and relief for this "discovery" as they can now offload their sense of guilt for their condition and can blame something over which they can have no control and therefore cannot be held responsible for: They have got an "illness".
(v) They are prescribed drugs that lift their mood.
(vi) However, they still realise that there is something not right, and begin to take positive steps to get back to normal.
(vii) Eventually they are well on their way to becoming normal people - with or without the drugs.
(viii) At the end of the article (or in describing their history) they record certain attitudes to life that are far from normal - attention seeking, excessive fear of what others are thinking of them, perfectionism, etc. Some admit that they were mainly to blame for their depression.
(ix) They realise that they are now a much stronger person than they were before their depression.
(x) Most admit that they were glad they had gone through their experience because they had learnt so much more about themselves and now had a changed, more relaxed, attitude to life.

By far the most revealing feature of their history is their own account (admission?) of their behaviour before they became depressed. In every case I have examined, there are clear accounts of mixtures of pride, self-centredness, wanting to be the centre of attention, or excessive fear of what other people's opinions of them are, perfectionism to be admired for their high standards of achievement and to avoid any criticism, desire for power over others, always wanting to have their own way, and much else of this nature.

To prove this, I give some revealing statements which I have collected from the various cases I have examined. Some are from BAGFY, others are from the ATBC issues.

(1) "Despite 'performing' to attract attention and to impress, I retreated inside myself... I now realise how isolated I was." "I wanted to be the Nye Bevan of my generation.." [Of the depression-] "It was almost - almost [emphasis his] worth it."

(2) "Always snappy, I became vehemently aggressive." "Like many depressive people, I tried to do too much; I wanted to be perfect. I thought no one would love me unless I tried to be a superwoman. My illness [!] made me stop all that.... My expectations aren't as high as they used to be."

(3) A psychologist experienced depression. (i) he had a mask of confidence to hide his shyness. (ii) he was totally self-centred and aggressive to others, (iii) Whilst depressed, he wondered if he was faking his symptoms to gain sympathy and attention - "even my breakdown was a fake". (iv) His obituary said "He was an impossible man to deal with"! [Who said depression was an "illness"?]

(4) "But as I grew older, it became more and more difficult to avoid something I'd spent much of my life trying to escape - reality... THE ONLY PERSON I HAVE EVER GRIEVED FOR IS ME. My depression exists independently from what is going on externally.... I found that drinking relieved some of the loneliness AND SELF-HATRED I felt, if only for the moment.... I sobered up six months ago when it became clear to me that I could not begin to tackle my problems drunk. Talking to psychiatrists hadn't helped because my mood was being manipulated by the mind-altering substances I was taking."

So we see the same pattern in them all - self-centredness and self-pity. They almost all say that they would go through it again because they are now wiser and stronger. This supports the title of our book - "Breakdowns ARE good for you."

That this is found in every case makes it quite clear that -

It is pride, self-centredness and self-pity that are at the root of all depression.

The reaction!

Such a claim creates great anger and incredulity amongst most Christians. Comments received are ".. depressed are ill people and need to be treated kindly..", "..obviously, you have never been depressed yourself..", "..lacking in Christian love and sympathy..", "..yes, some may be due to self-centeredness, but surely not every case. I know a good friend.." - and much else.

How does one begin to answer such charges? In my early years I did NOT have an easy life and there were many times I could have taken the path to depression. Robert also suffered from depression, but realised what was happening and claimed Bible passages as his guide and deliberately ignored his feelings (BAGFY p.115). When there is a clear pattern of self-centredness observed by others (as I have listed just a few above) that runs through all depressions, no matter how strong may be the reaction and unpopularity (and resulting ostracism), is it not in the interest of truth that this should be pointed out! I have had several nurses who have worked in psychiatric wards who have said how much guilt and self-centredness there is on these wards. For a recent (May 2004) account see Comments
To show that we are not alone in taking a firm line with this problem, let me quote from a world famous preacher.

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones on depression
When I started to read his book "Spritual Depression", as he was a highly regarded medical man, I fully expected him to take the conventional line of drugs etc. Much to my surprise, his views were in exact accordance with ours! I quote some of his statements;
"..I say that this person is still morbidly and sinfully preoccupied with self. I said just now that we have to be brutal with this condition. [emphasis MB] And it has to be said that the real trouble with these people is still 'self'... They appear very humble and full of contrition, but it is mock modesty, it is a self-concern... Forget yourself, leave the judgement to Him; get on with the work." [p.87]
"In a sense, the depressed Christian is a contradiction in terms, and he is a very poor recommendation for the gospel." [p.11] "..and saying: I am in great difficulty - it probably means that we are all the time centred upon ourselves. That is introspection, and in turn it leads to the condition known as morbidity." [p17].
One very damning comment was "Psychology, I believe, is one of the most subtle dangers in connection with the Christian belief.... we do not preach psychology, we preach the Christian faith." [p.265]
Throughout the book, he says exactly the same that we are proposing - that it is self-centred and self-pitying thinking that is the cause of depression.

The reaction of anger to such claims has no relevance to whether they are true or not. I give a brief example. Robert was counselling a mother suffering from post natal depression. After hearing her for a while, he eventually said "I think you are resentful that you have had this late baby as it will restrict you when all your friends are becoming free of children." She later admitted "What you told me was absolutely true, but I hated you for it." He asked if she still had black depressions? "No, because I now know what I am doing." (BAGFY p.26). In fact, Robert, with his considerable experience of counselling, says that if a person storms out of a meeting, he can be sure that he will be back later. Other counsellors have said exactly the same. What has happened is that their carefully constructed facade has been penetrated for the first time, and they have realised that their real condition is exposed such that even they can see cleary what they have been doing!

No lasting cure will ever be found for depression until the real cause is accepted. All that happens at the moment is that people are given powerful psychotic drugs to deaden that part of the brain which is generating the painful symptoms. The real cause is never dealt with directly.

[Whilst speaking about drugs, it may be necessary to prescribe an anti-depressant where the depression is so severe that no response is received from the patient. This may lift their mood so that communication can be established. Even here, although they may not respond, they DO hear all that is said and will think about it, even though they may choose not to respond. It is generally recognised that when a person is dying, hearing is one of the last of their faculties to function.]

Obviously, people recognise these characteristics of self-centredness in such people and refuse to give them the praise that they so much long for. When they do not receive it in sufficient quantity to satisfy them, they then implode upon themselves - and they become depressed.

There are two forms of depression -

Reactive depression - easily identifiable external circumstances overwhelm a person, and he becomes depressed and unable to cope with this situation. As we have shown, there is invariably an attitude problem that precedes this event.

Endogenous depression - the depression come out of nowhere and for no apparent reason. This is thought to show that it has nothing to do with the person who has become "ill" with depression. This we would deny.
What has happened is that the person has suppressed his feelings of resentment, pride and anger when he feels he has not received adequate approval for all his hard work. Eventually, the dam bursts as he can no longer retain it, and full depression takes over. Imagine a minister who is always wanting the praise of his church members. He works hard to obtain this, but it invariably does not come in sufficient quantities to satisfy him. Eventually he collapses in endogenous depression.

Depression often occurs in occupations that are "unstructured"; i.e. the planning of their day's work depends upon their initiative and they do not have a regular routine they are required to follow. Examples would be church ministers and housewives. In addition, if in any occupation it is not easy to set any goals or achieve clear levels of "success" or get little encouraging feedback on these lines, they may have difficulty in receiving a real sense of "job satisfaction" - and this could apply to these two occupations also.

How should the Christian deal with his depression?

(1) If the root problem is self-centreness, then the answer is obvious; he must begin to take a real interest in other people and their circumstances. This must be a genuine interest, and not one that is seeking to obtain their approval. There are many passages in the Bible that tell us to put others before ourselves (Eph. 2:3-4, Heb.12:11-14.)

(2) The Bible never says that life - Christian or otherwise - will be smooth and trouble free. When we realise this, we must stand up to the problems of life, no matter how big they may be. They are sent to strengthen us and test how strong our Christian faith truly is (James 1:2-4). For the Christian, he should never forget that no matter how bad the circumstances may seem to him, he must never ever forget that ultimately, God is in complete control of all events. Whatever happens, he must never run away from the problem(s) but must deal with them in a mature Christian way; no other attitude is honouring to God.

(3) Any tendency to mope and have a "pity party" must be firmly resisted. An active, loving and outgoing life must be maintained - irrespective of how we feel.

(4) This question of feelings is very important. The Bible never tells us to do the right thing "if and when we feel like doing it." It is very clear indeed that we must do good things for others whether we feel like doing them or not. This includes doing the mundane things we all have to do at times. Let us do them all to the glory of God. You can be absolutely sure that the good feelings will come in due time once you have trained yourself to do what is right in the first place. This can take six weeks to retrain the autonomic nervous system so that we have a better set of habits that become part of us.

(5) There is one physical thing that can be done that is far more effective than any medication. Tests have shown the very positive benefits of doing regular (fairly hard) exercise! This gets the whole body working more normally. It lifts depression and if it is followed by a warm shower, then the resulting glow over the whole body gives a further uplift and positive sense of well-being.

Support from others.

The views presented on this page are far from being the personal views of the writer of this website, but have support from a number of others.
(i) Robert Law recognised the real root of depression from his experience in psychiatric hospitals and his extensive counselling experience.
(ii) Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. I have quoted above just a few of his strong statements from his "Spiritual Depression".
(iii) Dr. Dorothy Rowe counselled depressives and would not allow them to blameshift (BAGFY p.60-61).
(iv) Professor of Psychiatry He became a Christian after he had progressed in psychiatry. Read a summary of his talk- Click here for summary of his talk
(v) Jay Adams has written over 40 books on counselling and has a huge organisation in America counselling on Biblical lines.
(vi) Glasser, Harrington and Mainord were dealing with schizophrenia, sociopaths and "mental illnesses" rather than specifically with depression, but there is no doubt of their similar approach to depression when their patients became sullen and sulky.
(vii) Cognitive Behaviour Therapy This is the most successful form of secular counselling for depression (and many other problems, such as phobias, etc.). An official description says -"This is based on the idea that what we think about ourselves and the world around us affects how we feel and our behaviour. By changing the way we think, we can change our behaviour and emotional reactions."
This changing of a counsellee's attitude to life's problems is all that we are proposing but we are doing it on Bibical principles.

A happy Christian life
The key to leading a happy Christian life (and avoiding falling into the pit of depression) is to be loving, active and outgoing towards others as a service to God. The truly humble person does not take umbrage or become angry when ridiculed, humiliated, mocked or sneered at - even in public. (Remember Christ's humiliation on the Cross!) He is more interested in living to the glory of God than in seeking prestige and credibility amongst his peers.

Ephesians 4:11-14 makes it very clear that the prime purpose God formed the churches for was to give instruction to produce mature Christians.

We need to ask ourselves "Just how mature a Christian am I?"

What is my answer?

What is your answer?

May 2004.
Minor update (Cowper) June 2006

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