Depression is widespread in the world, affecting people across age, occupation, race, culture, nations, geography – like some “pandemic”. With lockdowns and a world coping with COVID-19, depression will probably become more prevalent. Some researchers report that about twenty percent of people are either experiencing some form of depression or have been diagnosed with depression.
How does one understand depression? Everyone’s history and experience with depression is unique but there are some common aspects. Some people feel ” spiritually dry, emotionally empty”, some with a “black cloud” around them. There can be conflicting and deep emotions – sadness, hopelessness, anger, shame and more. There is often the sense that something is not right, deep within one’s soul. Lack of energy, insomnia and other physical symptoms often come with depression. But what exactly is depression and where does it come from? Some people would be willing to face their deepest pain if they only knew what it was. Others never want to go there, perhaps afraid of what might be revealed. But our emotions are “indicators of our souls” and getting in touch with them can be a pathway to healing and renewal.
How does one cope with depression? The prevailing medical approach is a prescription for a psychiatric drug that can help manage the symptoms, but sometimes not that well. The medication has been described by some researchers as a “lobotomy of the soul” such that you do not feel the “lows” while sacrificing the ability to feel joy or the “highs” of life and relationships. But you never find out the reason for the depression, apart from the claim that it is a biochemical imbalance in your brain while more and more researchers in psychiatry challenge this hypothesis. Some researchers even claim that psychiatric drugs can prevent healing or that psychiatric diagnoses should not be so readily trusted.
During my over twenty years in leading people through healing and transforming prayer, I have seen many sources of depression which when understood and faced in Christ’s presence has led to healing and restoration. Self-hatred, deeply buried shame, unresolved guilt, the inability to forgive, rage or anger “frozen” in the past, betrayal, lack of father or mother love, regrets from past decisions, injustice, rejection of self or from others, abandonment, lack of eternal security, inability to receive God’s love or love from others, and many more were eventually uncovered as the source of depression. Sometimes, there were multiple sources of depression.
Psalm 42 is a tremendous resource for understanding depression. This Psalm offers far more than neurochemical solutions or psychological technique. The Psalmist asks several times “Why are you downcast, O my soul?” Learning how to “pour out your soul” and getting in touch with deep feelings moves us to personal revelation. Surely, personal transformation is far better than symptom management.
I invite you to listen to my exposition of Psalm 42, a psalm which provides incredible, deep, and profound insights into depression. Understanding is the first step to healing and personal transformation. I begin by reading the psalm from the NIV translation.