4 Myths Christians Need to Stop Believing About Depression

It's time for the Church to get real about depression.

“True believers don’t suffer from depression.”

His false statement rang in my ear like a noisy gong, and then hung in the air like smoke, waiting to be cleared away. I wasn’t exactly sure how this conversation had started, but one thing led to another and I here I was with this visitor and a small group of men and women discussing the existence of depression among Christians.

It would have been a hard conversation for anyone to have, but for me, it was even harder still.  Because little did this visitor know that I was only now emerging from the terrible pit of depression myself. Little did he know that for me, this conversation was personal, because I felt like I’d just been to hell and back. Little did he know that my heart had wrestled and my body had collapsed under the pressure of depression.

As a counselor, this was a conversation I was glad to be a part of. For over a decade, I’ve worked with men, women, children and teens struggling with mild to severe depression. I’ve seen firsthand the pain and paralysis it can bring. But I’ve also experienced it in my own life. I know the sinking quicksand that can drain your body, burden your heart and eat away at your mind.

It breaks my heart to hear the myths and lies that Christians believe about depression and the shame that can be felt surrounding this topic. As I’ve interacted with more and more people on this topic, I’ve noticed that there are a few false ideas that continue to be perpetuated among believers:

Depression is a Faith Issue.

As believers, we are never promised a pain-free, disease-free, struggle-free life. But we are promised a Savior, A Comfortor and a Friend. 

Like the visitor had falsely said many Christians buy into the idea that “True believers don’t suffer from depression.” 

I think this is the worst of all the lies, because not only is it false, but it’s antithesis of the entire message of Christ. As believers, we are never promised a pain-free, disease-free, struggle-free life. But we are promised a Savior, A Comfortor and a Friend. 

I look back at the hardest moments I have faced with depression and I see Jesus right by my side. I remember crying out one night and feeling all alone, and just then, God’s presence overwhelmed me in that moment, just when I needed it the most.  

Depression has nothing to do with a lack of faith. In fact, for me, it has been the catalyst for even deeper faith. Because some days, in the hardest moments, faith was the only thing I had.

Depression Can be Prayed Away.

I prayed more during the days and months when my depression was worst than I ever did in my entire life. But my depression didn’t magically disappear.

I believe in prayer, and I believe in a God who can heal all things—in fact, I genuinely believe it was His hand that lifted my depression. But freedom from depression requires prayer and treatment. Whether in the form of support, therapy or medication, as believers we have to have a “next steps” approach as we interact with people struggling with depression.

God has given us wisdom, and loads of research, to help us understand the multi-faceted disease of depression. It’s time for us to pray—but to also be prepared.

Depression isn’t Physical.

Just as we would never shame a cancer patient or a diabetic for their hurting bodies, we need to shift our perspective to see depression as a struggle of the body.  Only then will we be able to treat it in a proper way.  

Depression is a disease of the body that in turn impacts our emotions, our thoughts and even our spirit. There are many causes to depression, and whether it’s rooted in trauma, hormones or stress, it almost always affects our body.  

Our perspective of Depression needs to change so that we can learn to embrace and support those in it, instead of pushing them away.

Depression Shouldn’t Be Talked About. 

Though I still see hints of this myth among Christians, I am grateful to see this myth slowly dying in the Church.  There is no shame in feeling depressed, and we should learn to talk about it, preach about it and sing about it when it’s all said and done.

Scripture is filled with passages of men and women who have struggled through the pit of depression and their response was to cry out!

Scripture is filled with passages of men and women who have struggled through the pit of depression and their response was to cry out! Crying out is always the first step to healing—because depression is a disease that thrives in isolation. It wants to pull us into the prison of loneliness, where it can break us down in weakness.  

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By talking about depression, we slowly begin loosening its grip—allowing us to move in the direction of treatment, support and healing.

My deepest prayer is that as a body of believers, our attitudes would shift and our hearts would change as we work through this important issue. May we create an environment where we embrace those who are struggling and in pain rather than push them away. May we learn to be transparent—but more so, to accept the transparency of those around us.  

Because at the end of the day, our weakness will always, always point us to the one who can make us strong. And isn’t that what Christianity is really about?

This article was originally published at truelovedates.com.

Top Comments

Luke Worle

10

Luke Worle replied to David Cochran's comment

David the primary reason I called the writer and her piece ''brave'' was because many of us have walked the same walk where Christian circles attempt to dissect the causes for our depression. With myself, I had to weather the most unbelievably insensitive comments, such as ''Well Job suffered more then you and still bowed before God''..or this doozy...''Stop being selfish''...Oh did I mention that that zinger came on the heels of me finding out my mother was near death and losing my job in the same day? But for simply cathartic-ally feeling the full weight of the moment it was misconstrued as sin/selfish/human error. Sorry. I do not subscribe to the dogmatic compartmentalizing that everything has a spiritual cause only full stop. We are spiritual beings but are also organic beings. This has nothing to do with a progressive secularist agenda, but simply a system of checks and balances in how we look at the causes and deciding factors for depression. Organic imbalances exist in the body as in the mind. Is a diabetic at fault for low blood sugar due to sin and lack of faith? Do we really need to split hairs and determine what causes people's sufferings or do we all need to fundamentally admit that the church all too many times conveniently and superficially stigmatizes all mental illness as caused by lack of relationship with God (or sin) without taking any time to look into other factors as well? The author's point in this article is to simply address the lack of balance in how the Church oftentimes looks at depression. Maybe you have had different experiences then some of us, but that doesn't mean that scapegoating ''sin'' or ''attitude'' as the allegded culprit to depression doesn't always exist. As in everything, balance, truth, light, patience and understanding go a long way. Flippant, fiinger pointing insensitive handling of people's suffering is a primary reason why I have seen many Christians in emotional turmoil give up on the church. Some have ended their lives. Nobody took the time-or gave the grace- to come down from their own pulpit and to stop playing judge. Her article indeed is brave as is her determination to be vulnerable once again. I respect that.

Trista Sue Price

1

Trista Sue Price commented…

As someone who suffers from hypothyroidism, depression and anxiety are part of the package. Thankfully, there is treatment for my condition and I am on the road to recovery. But there was a time before I was diagnosed when nothing could pull me out of my deep depression. I was going to church, praying, reading my bible, had counseling with a close pastor friend, and I was even a leader in our youth ministry. But every night, I would lay in bed for hours until I finally cried myself to sleep (usually not till at least 2am) and there were days where I wouldn't get up until 2 or 3 in the afternoon. It was horrible. I gained weight, my relationships suffered, and my health was continuously going downhill.
It is so refreshing to see people out there who know that depression is a REAL condition that should be treated with respect, not just another excuse for a hypochondriac. I would give anything to feel like my normal self again, but I know I'm on my way and God has always been there, loving me and guiding me through. :)

41 Comments

DJ

3

DJ commented…

I don't know when this article was written but I lost a friend last night to suicide because of depression. This post definitely helped.

Ashley J

6

Ashley J commented…

Depression is a whole body approach (emotional, environmental, relational, physical and spiritual). Sometimes it is a vitamin deficiency or mineral deficiency. Even if you take antidepressants and you have a vitamin deficiency it won't work effectively. As a person who has depression and anxiety I have been reading books (even though it can be hard to read). One book I came across is "Moving Beyond Depression" by Gregory L. Jantz. I am seeing a naturopathic doctor now that helps with stuff like this. They take blood work and do different test to see what is wrong with your body. They actually treat the causes of an illness not the symptoms like M.D.'s do. They use nutritional supplements not medication. I am waiting for my blood work so I have not take the supplements yet. I wish you all the best of luck though.

Terri Umphlett

1

Terri Umphlett commented…

My family has a strong history of depression. My maternal grandmother suffered from depression, my mother, my 5 aunts and 1 uncle suffered from depression, my 2 brothers and 2 sisters suffer from depression. I have seen in all of these people different types of depression.

My uncle was a Vietnam veteran (combat medic). He himself linked his depression to situational atrocities that he had to see in his mind's eye for the rest of his life. My grandmother, as well as my mother and aunts suffered beyond depression, requiring the "top notch treatment" of the day, electrocurrent therapy. Didn't help a lick, however, the faith of those women never faltered.

My mother still lives, albeit with Alzheimer's, knows no one in the family anymore, but knows her God and talks to Him like He is the only one in the room. I've seen the comfort He gives when she needs it most as she travels this bizarre road of unknowns.

I believe that there are instances of depression that are more demonic oppression rather than chemical imbalance, but I have watched God's grace and comfort help those who deal with a chemical imbalance, or situational tragedy that one must learn to deal with. Regardless of what "kind" of depression someone has, we are to be the hands and feet of Jesus and help them through, not chastise them into compliance.

Tara Taft

2

Tara Taft commented…

I've been obsessed with beating Depression naturally since reading Gordon's Destroy Depression (http://steamspoils.com/destroy-depression-review ) So i've naturally started to examine my diet and lifestyle and the potential of things like exercise. Honestly, I'm seeing much better results than when I was dependent on medication. I'm taking control of this condition, and I'm going to beat it to a bloody pulp. No more demons for me.

Tania Antoniuk

1

Tania Antoniuk commented…

Depression can come as a result of many factors: 1) trying to be perfect or excellent and not achieving that goal 2) being overwhelmed and disappointed by someone turning on you - a Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde personality 3) brainwashing or someone trying to control you and slowing slowing gaining ground without you realizing how bad it is getting. SINCERE PRAYER TO JESUS HELPS, ESPECIALLY WHEN WE MAKE IT SIMPLE AND JUST SAY HELP OR I CAN'T HANDLE THESE THOUGHTS, I WANT TO LEARN TO BE POSITIVE. Counselling with a sincere and loving Christian who knows the Word and that God is loving and will never leave you nor forsake you is one of the best HEALING METHODS FOR DEPRESSION.

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