Many people experience short, small bouts of depression at winter’s onset while others battle it often. Either way, conquering depression challenges the best of us.
SAD—or seasonal affective disorder—was first named by Norman Rosenthal and his colleagues at the National Institute of Mental Health in 1984. Symptoms include oversleeping, overeating, difficulty waking up, lack of energy, trouble concentrating, and withdrawal from friends, family, and social activities.
SAD and other types of depression result from medical, self-inflicted, circumstance-related, or Satan-instigated sources. Conquering it is possible, but how?
The psalmist said, “I lift my hands to you in prayer. I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain. Come quickly, Lord, and answer me, for my depression deepens” (Psalm 143:6–7 NLT).
Consult the Proper Source
David’s present depression was circumstance-related and Satan-instigated. God anointed him as Israel’s king, but prior to assuming the role, he faced jealousy and life-threatening tactics from the sitting king. He found himself running for his life.
God is our ultimate emotional healer when conquering depression. Our efforts toward restored health should include praying for guidance, searching his Word for comfort, socializing with those holding common beliefs, and confiding in trustworthy Christian acquaintances. When God directs—and when conditions warrant—we may also need to visit a medical professional for counseling and/or medicine.
Admit Our Helplessness
Depression often brings with it feelings of “darkness” and confinement, like lingering under an ominous cloud that neither dissipates nor delivers rain.
I’ve taken a few cave tours in my lifetime. While I enjoy being able to ponder underground structures, there’s one part that makes me nervous: when the guide turns out the lights. What if they don’t come back on, or what if the flashlight batteries die and he has no extras? Darkness is eerie; absolute darkness is nerve-racking.
David was a darkness expert. He slept in it as a young man while tending his father’s sheep, and he hid in it in a wilderness cave because a jealous king wanted him dead.
Helplessness isn’t easy to admit. We’re more likely to have an attitude of “There’s nothing I can’t conquer.” But like the addict who must confess their addiction before help can be effective, so conquering depression involves admitting to God we’re helpless to overcome without his assistance.
Examine Your Relationship with God
Charlie was a good girl. Although her father rarely darkened the church doors, her mother made sure she and her brothers attended. When a teenager, she accepted Jesus as her Savior at a church revival and after graduation married her high school sweetheart. They soon entered full-time Christian ministry.
But somewhere along the way, Charlie changed. Her love for church dwindled, and her new friends led her down roads taking her away from God. She began experimenting with sinful behaviors which accelerated her downhill slide. Eventually, Charlie walked out on her family and God.
David once ventured into forbidden areas after becoming king and discovered what Charlie did: sin never delivers what it promises. He attempted to enjoy life with lies, sexual immorality, and murder—but inherited only depression and God’s discipline.
Disobedience can be a cause of a believer’s depression. Anytime we choose to walk away from God, an emotional struggle develops. If not quickly settled by confession and repentance, our emotional war will be lost to depression. Sin always takes us farther than we want to go, keeps us longer than we want to stay, and costs us more than we want to pay.
If you’re struggling with depression, approach the right Source, admit your helplessness, and confess any sinful behaviors.