BIBLICAL RESPONSE TO DEPRESSION
(Contributed by: Dale J)
In dealing with depression among teenagers, generally speaking the types of depression need to be understood. Basically, the two types of depression are of a physical nature and etiology and the depression which has an emotional/behavioral etiology. The two variations may utilize some of the same basic principles in dealing with the symptoms but have different treatments of the cause. In other words, the physical depression may be handled primarily by a doctor prescribing medication. The emotional/behavioral depression can often times be handled with counseling and Biblical teaching. Yet, while emotional/behavioral depression is in focus here and suggestions and insights are offered, this handling of the issue is neither intended as complete nor absolute. Certainly for the deeper and more profound issues, professional and experienced counseling is recommended. As well for physical or biological causes of depression should be handled by a physician or trained professional.
With the depressed teen, understanding the causes for the depression is the key in dealing with any symptoms of the depression itself. One such cause for this depression can be spiritually provoked akin to a sinful situation in a teen’s life. Often time, a person will get themselves involved in a sinful situation and over time they will begin to sink into a state of depression. Generally speaking this is only true of a believer because they have the Holy Spirit to convict of sin. It is this conviction and shame or the feelings of hopelessness that pushes a person into a depressive state. The primary understanding that the teen needs to have is that God forgives: “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Not only does God forgive but He cleanses us from the stain of sin and allows us to heal. If a teen will come to the place where they will confess their sins then they can receive God’s forgiveness and cleansing and come out of the depression that has plagued them.
An additional cause of depression can be a low sense of self worth. When teens begin to compare themselves with others and recognize that they are lacking in some way, they can become incapacitated. Students need to begin to grasp that each person lives the life that God has given them and finds their significance in Him. Psalm 139:13-14, points this out: “For You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, and I know that full well.” Also we can see that God has a great purpose for us and we can hold great significance because “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). This can be huge in the life of a teen that has these struggles.
Recent studies by healthcare and mental health professionals have noticed an increase in the occurrence of depression among teens and young children. They have concluded that one cause is the escalating amount of stress that teens and children are facing today. Specifically little “down” time and “over stimulation” from outside sources are just two of the reasons for this increased stress. This stress has a wide reaching and profound impact on the life of the young person and often manifests itself in a state of depression.
Another reason for a teen’s depressive state is that they are overcome with life situations and see no hope. In such cases, a firm grasp of Scripture can bring healing to them. The teen needs to understand that “though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:6-7). There is hope. The Bible says in Luke 6:21b, “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.”
Whatever the cause for the depression, if the teen can begin to just take each day and rest upon the Lord they will be renewed. Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” When the teen can begin to see that their current situation will pass then they can say, “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my savior and my God” (Psalm 43:5).