"FAITH IS THE VICTORY!" In Overcoming Depression INTRODUCTION 1. In this series we have been considering how faith in Jesus gives us the victory... a. In overcoming sin b. In overcoming what are often the consequences of sin or sinful thinking -- Using as our basic text 1 Jn 5:4-5 2. We have stressed that faith in Jesus involves... a. A strong trust and conviction in who Jesus is, what He did, what He taught b. Accepting and acting upon His words and those of His apostles 3. We have looked at how faith in Jesus can address the problems of... a. Sin itself b. Anxiety c. Boredom 4. Now we will consider how faith in Jesus can help us overcome "depression"... a. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)... 1) During any one year period, 17.6 million people suffer from a depressive illness 2) Depressive illnesses often interfere with normal function, causing pain not only to those with the disorder, but to those who care about them 3) Serious depression can destroy family life as well as the life of the ill person b. Christians certainly are not immune to the problem of "depression"... 1) Great men of God have been known to suffer depression: Elijah, David, Jeremiah 2) I know mature Christians who have had to deal with the problem of depression [Overcoming depression is not easy, but it can be done. As before, let's start by trying to understand the problem we face...] I. UNDERSTANDING DEPRESSION A. DEPRESSION DEFINED... 1. According to the American Heritage Dictionary: A psychotic or neurotic condition characterized by an inability to concentrate, insomnia, and feelings of extreme sadness, dejection, and hopelessness 2. According to NIMH: a. Depression is a "whole-body" illness, involving your body, mood, and thoughts b. It affects the way you eat and sleep, the way you feel about yourself, and the way you think about things c. It is not the same as a passing blue mood, nor a sign of personal weakness d. It is not a condition that can be willed or wished away; without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months, years 3. Two serious types of clinical depression are... a. Major depression - manifested by a combination of symptoms that interfere with the ability to work, sleep, eat, and enjoy pleasurable activities. These disabling episodes of depression can occur once, twice, or several times in a lifetime. c. Bipolar Disorder - formerly called manic-depressive illness. Involves cycles of depression and elation or mania. Mood switches can be dramatic and rapid, but normally are gradual. When in the depressed cycle, one can have any or all the symptoms of a depressive disorder. When in the manic cycle, any or all of the symptoms of mania may be experienced. It affects thinking, judgment, and social behavior in ways that can cause serious problems and embarrassment. It is often a chronic recurring condition. B. SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION AND MANIA... 1. Depression a. Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" mood b. Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism, guilt, worthlessness, helplessness c. Loss of interest or pleasure in ordinary activities, including sex d. Insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping e. Appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain f. Decreased energy, fatigue, being "slowed down" g. Thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts h. Restlessness, irritability i. Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions j. Recurring aches and pains that don't respond to treatment 2. Mania a. Excessively "high" mood b. Irritability c. Severe insomnia d. Grandiose notions e. Increased talking f. Disconnected and racing thoughts, easily distracted g. Increased sexual desire h. Markedly increased energy i. Poor judgment j. Inappropriate social behavior C. CAUSES OF DEPRESSION... 1. Other illnesses can bring on depression (e.g., strokes, some cancers, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, hormonal disorders). 2. Some medications cause depressive symptoms as side effects (e.g., certain drugs used to treat high blood pressure and arthritis). 3. Genetics and family history - Depression runs in families. Some people probably have a biological make-up that makes them particularly vulnerable. 4. Certain personalities - People with low self-esteem or who are very dependent on others seem to be vulnerable to depression. 5. Life events, such as the death of a loved one, divorce, moving to a new place, money problems or any sort of loss can be linked to depression. People without relatives or friends to help have even more difficulty coping with their losses. C. TREATMENT FOR DEPRESSION... 1. Medication - Useful for relieving symptoms, they include antidepressants and are usually administered through trial and error to see which medications and dosage are beneficial to a particular patient 2. Psychotherapy - Talking with a trained therapist can be effective in treating certain depressions. Therapy includes: a. Cognitive therapy - Aims to help the patient recognize and change negative thinking patterns that contribute to depression b. Interpersonal therapy - Focuses on dealing more effectively with other people; improved relationships can reduce depressive symptoms 3. Biological treatments - This includes electroconvulsive therapy; research is also being done on the use of light for the treatment of depression [As a member of a family with a genetic predisposition toward depression, I am particularly sensitive to the problem of depression. I don't discount the value of medical efforts to treat depression or any other illness, for even Paul counseled the medicinal use of wine to treat stomach ailments (cf. 1 Ti 5:23 ). I am persuaded, however, that faith in Jesus can greatly complement any effort to overcome depression...] II. OVERCOMING DEPRESSION THROUGH FAITH IN JESUS A. JESUS ADDRESSES MANY ISSUES THAT CAN DEPRESS PEOPLE... 1. Among many things that can make people depressed, there are such things as: a. Guilt for sins committed in the past b. Concern regarding one's relationship with God in the present c. Fear for what might happen in the future 2. As we have stressed before, what Jesus has done, is doing, and will do, addresses such problems a. He addresses the problem of sin, through His death on the cross! b. He teaches us how to pray, and maintain a healthy relationship with God! c. He gives us hope and promise concerning the future, through His resurrection and ultimate return! B. JESUS PROVIDES POSITIVE COGNITIVE THERAPY... 1. Cognitive therapy seeks to help one recognize and change negative thinking patterns that contribute to depression; sample suggestions include: a. Don't set for yourself difficult goals or take on a great deal of responsibility b. Break large tasks into small ones, set some priorities, do what you can as you can c. Don't expect too much from yourself too soon as this will only increase feelings of failure d. Participate in activities that may make you feel better e. Try to be with other people; it is usually better than being alone 2. In His teachings, Jesus stressed similar principles! a. Reminding us of God's providential love and care - Mt 6: 25-32 b. Teaching us where to place our priorities in life - Mt 6:33 c. Revealing our own limitations - Mt 6:34 d. Pointing out the kind of selfless service can provide true joy - cf. Jn 13:12-17 ; Ac 20:35 e. That God is longsuffering, willing to forgive and comfort the downhearted - cf. Mt 5:3-6 ; the parable of the Prodigal Son, Lk 15:11-32 C. JESUS PROVIDES POWERFUL INTERPERSONAL THERAPY... 1. Interpersonal therapy focuses on one's disturbed personal relationships that both cause and exacerbate the depression 2. Jesus certainly addresses interpersonal relationships! a. Our relationship with God - cf. 2 Co 5:18-21 b. Our relationship with our fellow man - e.g., Mt 5:23-24 ; 18:21-22 3. Through His death and teachings He strengthens interpersonal relationships! a. Reconciling us back to God and man - cf. Ep 2:14-17 b. Teaching us how to love God and one another - e.g., Jn 13:34-35 ; 1 Jn 5:2-3 c. His church is to be a family, providing strength and encouragement, even bearing one another's burdens - cf. Ga 6:1-2 ; 1 Th 5:14 CONCLUSION 1. Depression, like anxiety and boredom, is not something to be taken lightly... a. Many people suffer from it, including brothers and sisters in Christ b. It can have a debilitating effect on the one who suffers from it, and on those around them 2. Yet Christ can provide a way out for those willing to have faith in Him! a. Not just faith in the one suffering from depression b. But faith in those who are in position to aid the suffering -- It is only when both the "patient" and the "care-giver" accept and act upon the words of Jesus can there be the kind of joy, peace and comfort Jesus intended 3. Indeed, His teachings are designed to provide true joy and peace - Jn 15:11 ; 16:33 a. As Paul wrote, God "comforts us in all our tribulation" - cf. 2 Co 1:3-4 b. But such comfort is intended to be shared, that "we may be able to comfort those who are in trouble..." Is our faith in Jesus what it ought to be? Is it such that we can carry out Paul's admonition...? Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. (1 Th 5:14 ) If so, then truly we can say: "Faith Is The Victory!"