by Donna Gibbs
Depression – it’s called the “common cold” of mental disorders, but how common is it really?
Depression impacts hundreds of millions of individuals across the world. Up to 20% of the population in America struggles with the sometimes debilitating symptoms of depression. 20%!! I’d call that common, wouldn’t you?
If depression is that common, then any of us are susceptible… a teenager, a mom, a dad, a senior adult, a person of any race or occupation. Your neighbor. Your co-worker. Perhaps even a King!
I enjoyed an invitation to speak to a local church some time ago regarding the topic of depression. Their specific request was that I address the possibility of depression in the life of David, the writer of many of the Psalms. So, we put David on the “Hot Seat” and posed two questions: 1) David, were you depressed? 2) Can a Christian be depressed?
But before we examine David, let’s first consider some general symptoms of depression:
*Loss of interest in once enjoyable activities
*Apathy – lost your “care”
*Letting go of self-care/hygiene
*Changes in sleep patterns
*Changes in eating patterns
*Difficulty concentrating, or forgetfulness
*Feelings of worthlessness
Who was David? As a boy, he was the youngest of his siblings. As a young man, he had a simple job of taking care of sheep. But God had a more extravagant role designed for David’s adult life. After a series of amazing events, David was ultimately appointed King of Israel. David became head of the royal family!
Did you watch the most recent royal wedding? Or follow the news of the recent royal birth? Wow! What a display of power, infamy, wealth, and lavishness! As King, David too experienced the extravagance of this lifestyle. But can someone who lives like that possibly experience depression? Someone who never has a financial care? Someone who never has to cook their own meal, or cut their own grass? Someone with access to the very best of all that life offers? Is it possible that even someone with this ultimate grandiose lifestyle could be vulnerable to the symptoms we identified above?
As if royalty weren’t seemingly enough to insulate him from depression, David also had a unique spiritual life. Indeed, he is historically known as “a man after God’s own heart”. He was far from perfect, but he had a rich spiritual life. Isn’t that enough to protect someone from depression?
David’s own words will answer our questions:
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? My tears have been my food day and night.
Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy? My bones suffer mortal agony.
Psalm 42: 9-10
My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught…. My heart is in anguish within me…. Oh that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.
Psalm 55: 2, 4-8
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts, and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Yes, David lived the life of royalty. Yes, David was a man of God. And, David met the criteria for depression. He felt downcast and distraught. He wrestled with his thoughts. He had ruminations. He had crying spells. He had spiritual disconnect. He had physical symptoms of pain. He wanted to run away from everything and everybody. He desperately wanted to escape. He grew agitated and impatient. Can you relate?
If you also wrestle with depression, I want you to take comfort in this: depression really is common. No one is immune. No one is insulated from pain. Whether through a genetic predisposition, a vitamin deficiency, a thyroid issue, a hormone imbalance, or a fiery trial of life, we are all vulnerable. Even me and you.
If you are wrestling in your thoughts today, know that you are in good company. Even a king, even a “man after God’s own heart” might say, “I can relate”. Rest in knowing that you are not alone! And then reach out for help. No need to suffer in silence any more.
Donna Gibbs, co-owner of Summit Wellness Centers, PLLC, is author of the recent releases, Silencing Insecurity and Becoming Resilient. Donna has authored numerous other books, her blogs are frequently shared in various media outlets, and she is commonly featured on radio broadcasts across America, and occasionally internationally as well. Donna has been providing individuals and families the hope and help they need for more than twenty years as a national certified counselor, board-certified professional Christian counselor, and licensed professional counselor supervisor. A member of the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), she is a leading professional provider for Focus on the Family, Christian Care Network, r3Continuum, FINDINGbalance, and Samaritan’s Purse.
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