What Does The Bible Say About Depression
What does the bible say about depression? Feelings of stress go with being human. The Bible presents life as a process of suffering before glory, just as the Lord Jesus Christ first suffered on the cross and then went to His crown in heaven. Having the “blues” from time to time is expected. As Romans 8:23 says, “we believers also groan …” feel depressed, or extreme discouragement to the point of becoming disabled, has been experienced since the inception of sin. Several Bible characters displayed symptoms that probably would meet today’s diagnostic criteria for depression.
Hopelessness is a symptom of depression, and the biblical message of hope can offer us so much in contrast to a world that offers so little. All people, at times, face moments of extreme discouragement for a variety of reasons. No wonder, then, that the Word of God is filled with promises that can give all of us, no matter our situation, reasons to hope for a better future, if not in this world, then certainly in the next. Of course, when depression is severe, it’s important to get professional help. The Lord can work through these people to help those who need special care.
After all, regardless of your relationship with God, were you physically ill, you would seek the help of a doctor or health professional. It’s the same with those suffering from severe clinical depression, which is often caused by a genetic predisposition and chemical imbalance in the brain. Thus, at times, even Christians might need the help of professionals.
What does the bible say about depression? David experienced severe mood alterations because of unfair persecution (Saul and Israel’s adversaries). In addition, his violation of God’s commandments brought about a deep sense of guilt (Ps. 51:4), and shame often is associated with depression. When one sees oneself negatively (“I am dumb”), looks at the world pessimistically (“life is always unfair”), and contemplates the future hopelessly (“it will never improve”), chances of depression become high. This attitude is called “catastrophic thinking.” Christians may opt for alternative ways to interpret things, a method that incorporates God’s plan and messages into the equation.
Consider the following alternatives:
- How to look at yourself. You were created in God’s image, to rule over creation (Gen. 1:26, 27). Jesus Christ, through His sacrifice, rescued you from eternal death and granted you privileges—chosen people, a royal priesthood, holy nation (1 Pet. 2:9, NIV). Before God’s eyes, you have infinite worth.
- The world. The world is indeed rotten and full of evil. At the same time, there also are many right, noble, and admirable things upon which (Phil. 4:8) to ponder. Furthermore, Christians can understand the existence of evil without despair, as they know its origin and ultimate fate.
- The future. God’s children! have an extraordinary destiny reserved for them. The Bible is full of promises with the assurance of salvation (Ps. 37:39).
What Does The Bible Say About Depression? 4 Causes
Depression#1: Guilt- In the Psalms, King David speaks of depression. Phrases from Psalms 32 and 38 include: “I groaned all day long,” “and I walk around filled with grief,” and “my groanings come from an anguished heart.” In Psalm 51:12, David prays for the joy of his salvation to be restored. David’s adultery with Bathsheba had caused his depression and the cover-up that followed. Before he confessed his sin, David grew more and more depressed.
Guilt is to the soul what pain is to the body. The symptom of pain means we have a problem that needs attention. Likewise, shame reveals we have a spiritual crisis that needs attention. David said, “when I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long” (Psalm 32:3-4). By contrast, David confessed his sins to God, and he returned to joy.
What does the bible say about depression? In Psalm 51:7, he prayed, “wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” All of us have sinned. God is a just Judge who can not just let sins go unpunished. However, the Holy Judge also loves us and does not want to punish us. He sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to die on the cross in our place.
He paid our penalty and defeated death by rising again. Our sins were placed on His moral and legal account when Christ died. When a person trusts Him as Savior, His righteousness is transferred to the believer’s account (or legal record). God as Judge looks upon a believer in Christ as being cleansed from sin.
Through faith in Christ as Savior, they stand “legally” before God uncondemned and acquitted. The Bible’s term for this is “justification by faith.” (See Romans 5:1, 9.) If you have never placed your faith in Christ as Savior, guilt from unresolved sin is one of the hidden causes of your depression.
The answer is to pray to God the Father and trust His Son as Savior. You can accept His death on the cross as payment for sin. Then you need not feel guilty before God as Judge. Instead, you will have Christ’s righteousness transferred to your legal/moral standing before God. The answer to depression caused by guilt is “the joy of salvation.”
Depression#2: Anger- If we pause to reflect, we know from experience that anger often leads to depression. Anger seldom goes with joy in life. The Bible tells the story of two brothers named Cain and Abel. Cain was the first murderer in human history who killed his brother.
Genesis 4:5 has the phrase, “This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected.” In other words, Cain’s anger brought on depression. The next step in his downward spiral was Cain’s violence against his innocent brother. Anger may be the most complex emotion. Not all anger is wrong.
Many have to read Ephesians 4:26 twice because it sounds like a misprint. This verse teaches, “Be angry and yet do not sin” (NASB). We would think it should read, “Be not angry.” However, sometimes it is righteous to be angry. Things are not always fair or proper. We might call this the “anger of God’s honor.”
When God’s holy standards for ethics are violated, we can become righteously angry. Yet, Ephesians 4:26 commands us not to let this righteous anger lead to sin even in these situations. Righteous anger can easily lead to hatred and an obsession for revenge. Instead, righteous anger should be channeled into a search to understand why God allowed the wrong in my life. Non-sinful anger should also motivate us to work to change the world for the better.
We must confess sinful anger to God as a sin for our emotional well-being. Many trivial insults and annoyances are not worth the resulting depression. A change in perspective on whether the irritant is worth stewing in depression helps. Those who confess the anger of self-importance as sin and those who refuse to stew in anger over details will have far less depression. You may be thinking, “my anger is righteous!” That may be true.
However, it is still true that we must try to let go of as many burdens as possible. Even if the other person does not deserve it, we will have less depression if we take a pass on offenses of a secondary nature. They are not worth the constant agitation and depression. The Bible says, “People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness” (Proverbs 14:29).
Depression#3: Hatred- The story of Jonah is best known for his adventure within the belly of the great fish. Instead of preaching to the people in Ninevah, Jonah went to sea to escape God’s call. Jonah’s reason for not wanting to go on the mission was not laziness. He hated the people of Nineveh. In the past, they had attacked Israel, so it was okay with him if they never heard about salvation by faith in Israel’s God. He wanted them to die and go to hell.
What does the bible say about depression? In the final chapter of the book of Jonah, Jonah is depressed to the point of suicide. One would think a preacher would be depressed because of a lack of response to his message. No, in Jonah’s case, he was depressed because Nineveh repented and was saved. The words are amazing. “So he complained to the Lord about it: ‘Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, LORD? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, LORD! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen” (Jonah 4:2-3). Why was Jonah so depressed that he preferred death to life? His unique psychology was that he hated others so much it ruined his own life. Jonah was the case of a Jew who hated gentiles. Another Bible story connects depression with anti-Semitism.
The book of Esther tells the story of race hatred against the Jewish people. Haman was an evil tyrant who wanted to exterminate the Jews. Mordecai, Esther’s relative, was a godly Jewish man. To this day, Jewish people celebrate deliverance from Haman at the annual festival of Purim. Children dress in costumes and exchange gifts.
Whenever the name of Haman is read in the ceremony, Jewish boys and girls respond with a “hiss!” Haman told his wife he had “great wealth,” he had “many children,” he was “promoted” by the king above all others. However, all these advantages could not overcome depression. “But this is all worth nothing as long as I see Mordecai the Jew just sitting there at the palace gate” (Esther 5:13). Despite the blessings of life, Haman’s hatred undid them all, plunging him into depression. It is a grave mistake to think good emotions can arise from hatred.
What does the bible say about depression? Hatred brings depression whether the object is personally known or a vague unending hatred towards another people group. Jonah felt all gentiles should be damned. Haman felt all Jews should be dead. Both were depressed to the point of suicidal despair.
Depression#4 Perfectionism: Some with perfectionist tendencies have unrealistic expectations of self or the world. Excellence is indeed a virtue. God wants us to achieve and work hard. However, God loves each of us without conditions. His love is not based on intelligence, appearance, talent, riches, or performance.
What does the bible say about depression? All are made in the image of God. The Lord Jesus Christ loved you so much He died for you. If you trust in Him as Savior, you become a child of God. God, the Judge, looks at believers as clothed in the righteousness of Christ.
Thus, the true motivation to achieve is not to find love and acceptance but because we are already precious to God. Society has things backward. It often bases our value on performance alone, not God’s view of human value. Often society judges others by false and impossible standards. Can you think of a situation or a person where pleasing them would be impossible? If we base our sense of value upon what such people think of us, we will feel depressed.
Yes, it is preferable to have people’s approval; but it is more important to please God and derive our sense of value from God. The standards by which God measures life are accessible to all. They are either given by grace or attainable by anyone who wants to develop a character like Jesus. Our underlying value is not based on superficial things out of our control, such as appearance, intelligence, talent, or strength. Moses is best known for the Ten Commandments.
Yet, even Moses was so depressed by his perfectionist tendencies that he wanted to die. No matter how hard he worked, the children of Israel would not follow God. His perfectionist tendencies led him to take responsibility for other people’s disobedience. “I can’t carry all these people by myself!. . . go ahead and kill me” (Numbers 11:14-15). We should let God’s standards for value and excellence measure our worth and performance (not the world!).
After pleasing God, we can have less worry or depression about being acceptable to others. It is also important to accept our human limitations. God does. We do not possess all beauty, strength, talent, or intelligence. He loves us the way we are.
In one movie, a Catholic priest at Notre Dame tells a potential football player to consider two indisputable facts: “there is a God. I am not He.” God knows human limitations. Striving to the point of depression is self-inflicted or society-inflicted. God loves us even within our limits.
Excellence will please God, but He already loves us for who we are. We should strive for excellence as God defines excellence, but failure to enjoy God’s acceptance and living by the world’s perfectionist expectations produces depression. So does a refusal to accept our human limits. “
What Does The Bible Say About Depression? 7 Best Scriptures
1 It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to His loved ones” (Psalm 127:2).
2 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18, NIV).” If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath”(MSG).”The Lord is close to all whose hearts are crushed by pain, and he is always ready to restore the repentant one.”(TPT)
3 Psalm 31:10(TPT)_ I’m exhausted! My life is spent with sorrow, my years with sighing and sadness. Because of all these troubles, I have no more strength. My inner being is so weak and frail.
(MSG)_ Be kind to me, God— I’m in deep, deep trouble again. I’ve cried my eyes out;I feel hollow inside. My life leaks away, groan by groan; my years fade out in sighs. My troubles have worn me out, turned my bones to powder.
4 Psalms 32:1-6(MSG)_Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be— you get a fresh start, your slate’s wiped clean. Count yourself lucky— God holds nothing against you and you’re holding nothing back from him. When I kept it all inside, my bones turned to powder, my words became daylong groans. The pressure never let up; all the juices of my life dried up.
Then I let it all out; I said, “I’ll come clean about my failures to God.” Suddenly the pressure was gone—my guilt dissolved, my sin disappeared. These things add up. Every one of us needs to pray; when all hell breaks loose and the dam bursts we’ll be on high ground, untouched.
(TPT)_ What bliss belongs to the one whose rebellion has been forgiven, those whose sins are covered by blood. What bliss belongs to those who have confessed their corruption to God! For he wipes their slates clean and removes hypocrisy from their hearts. Before I confessed my sins, I kept it all inside; my dishonesty devastated my inner life, causing my life to be filled with frustration, irrepressible anguish, and misery.
The pain never let up, for your hand of conviction was heavy on my heart. My strength was sapped, my inner life dried up like a spiritual drought within my soul.
Then I finally admitted to you all my sins, refusing to hide them any longer. I said, “My life-giving God, I will openly acknowledge my evil actions.” And you forgave me! All at once the guilt of my sin washed away and all my pain disappeared! This is what I’ve learned through it all: All believers should confess their sins to God; do it every time God has uncovered you in the time of exposing. For if you do this, when sudden storms of life overwhelm, you’ll be kept safe.
5 1 John 1:9(TPT)_ But if we freely admit our sins when his light uncovers them, he will be faithful to forgive us every time. God is just to forgive us our sins because of Christ, and he will continue to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
(MSG)_ If we claim that we’re free of sin, we’re only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit our sins—simply come clean about them—he won’t let us down; he’ll be true to himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing. If we claim that we’ve never sinned, we out-and-out contradict God—make a liar out of him. A claim like that only shows off our ignorance of God.
6 Mic. 7:1–7(MSG)_ I’m overwhelmed with sorrow! sunk in a swamp of despair! I’m like someone who goes to the garden to pick cabbages and carrots and corn And returns empty-handed, finds nothing for soup or sandwich or salad. There’s not a decent person in sight. Right-living humans are extinct. They’re all out for one another’s blood, animals preying on each other. They’ve all become experts in evil.
Corrupt leaders demand bribes. The powerful rich make sure they get what they want. The best and brightest are thistles. The top of the line is crabgrass. But no longer: It’s exam time.
Look at them slinking away in disgrace! Don’t trust your neighbor, don’t confide in your friend. Watch your words, even with your spouse. Neighborhoods and families are falling to pieces. The closer they are—sons, daughters, in-laws—The worse they can be. Your own family is the enemy.
But me, I’m not giving up. I’m sticking around to see what God will do. I’m waiting for God to make things right. I’m counting on God to listen to me.
7 Revelation 21:2–4(TPT)_ I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, descending out of the heavenly realm from the presence of God, like a pleasing bride that had been prepared for her husband, adorned for her wedding. And I heard a thunderous voice from the throne, saying: “Look! God’s tabernacle is with human beings. And from now on he will tabernacle with them as their God.
Now God himself will have his home with them_ ‘God-with-them’ will be their God! He will wipe away every tear from their eyes and eliminate death entirely. No one will mourn or weep any longer. The pain of wounds will no longer exist, for the old order has ceased.”
(MSG)_ I saw Holy Jerusalem, new-created, descending resplendent out of Heaven, as ready for God as a bride for her husband. I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: “Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They’re his people, he’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone.” The Enthroned continued, “Look! I’m making everything new. Write it all down—each word dependable and accurate.”
Sadness is not a sin. After all, look at how often Jesus felt sad. We mustn’t feel guilty because of sadness or depression. In some cases, we have good reasons to be hurting. How can you use the biblical truths stated above to help you cope with whatever struggles you face now?