Depression is a disease that afflicts most people on earth sooner or later. It is a combination of feelings comprised of hopelessness, abandonment, confusion, brain-pain, and sorrow. There is also the feeling that one is out of sync with everyone else on the planet who seem to all be enjoying themselves. And finally there is the feeling that this depression will never end, so then death becomes preferable to life. This is why people commit suicide.
Depression is usually triggered by a significant life event, like the death of a loved one, a financial crisis, or when a spouse or significant other suddenly leaves you high and dry for another person. Or it can be a gradual thing, where you keep plugging away at life and feel like no one appreciates you or the sacrifices you make for them. A life of serious sin can also cause depression, because there is always a huge payback from satan for every ounce of pleasure that one derives from sin. Committing serious over and over again is like running up a huge debt on your credit card; eventually, it has to be paid back, even if your sin is forgiven in the confessional (see Indulgences). In the author's case, the going rate for payback was about 10 pounds of pain for every ounce of pleasure!
Some of the clues that someone is in severe depression are when there is an unusual negative change of personality, loss of appetite, not caring about things that used to delight them, giving personal items away to others, crying spells, excessive sick leave from work, not joining in conversations, inability to start and/or complete simple tasks, not wanting to be seen in public, etc.
The first thing one should do when depression hits is to get professional counseling, fast. Talking it out with others also helps. A professional may prescribe medication as well.
But there is also a spiritual side to depression as well. The human is a combination of mind, body, AND spirit, with all 3 being interconnected somehow. The truly wise person will attack depression from a biblical standpoint as well.
"My soul is sorrowful, even unto death…" He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground. (Mt 26:38; Lk 22:44)
So just know that Jesus went through this as well, in the
In the Old Testament, God said:
"This is the one whom I approve: the lowly and broken man who trembles at my word… the Lord listens to the needy and does not spurn his servants in their chains." (Is 66:2; Ps 69:34).
It would seem from the above verse that one’s prayers become more efficacious when one is suffering greatly. After all, the prayer of the good thief on the cross was heard and answered right away by Jesus.
Jesus says in
Matthew 10:38 “and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”
Now this doesn’t mean that we should impale ourselves on another cross like they do in the Phillipines during Lent; rather, it means we have to suffer in this life for the Kingdom.
Paul even says in
Colossians 1:24: Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.
So Paul says that his suffering is for the sake of the body of Christ, the church. Those who choose to follow Jesus are only fooling themselves if they think that following Christ leads to health, wealth, and happiness in this life; rather it leads to eternal bliss in heaven AFTER this life is over. Saints live austere lives, doing for others, as suffering servants of Christ – They don’t live the lifestyle of the rich and famous.
And we also have this from the Word of God, from Sirach 30:21-25:
"Do not give yourself over to sorrow, and do not afflict yourself deliberately. Gladness of heart is the life of man, and the rejoicing of a man is length of days. Delight your soul and comfort your heart, and remove sorrow far from you, for sorrow has destroyed many, and there is no profit in it. Jealousy and anger shorten life, and anxiety brings on old age too soon. A man of cheerful and good heart will give heed to the food he eats."
So we see here that sorrow has destroyed a lot of people over the ages, and anxiety causes old age to happen faster than it normally would. And the kind of food one eats is also important.
Some of the saints have addressed this issue as well. The Blessed Mother told Bernadette at
My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn. (Psalm 51:19)
Even the Holy Blessed Mother Teresa went through this dark night of the soul, for about 50 years as a matter of fact –
“The place of God in my soul is blank. There is no God in me. When the pain of longing is so great—I just long & long for God… and then it is that I feel He does not want me—He is not there—God does not want me.” Mother Teresa
And last, but certainly not least, we have this gem concerning depression from St. Faustina’s Diary (the Divine Mercy Diary):
Once, a certain priest (Father Sopocko) asked me to pray for him. I promised to pray, and asked for a mortification. When I received permission for a certain mortification, I felt a great desire to give up all the graces that God's goodness would intend for me that day in favor of that priest, and I asked the Lord Jesus to deign to bestow on me all the sufferings and afflictions, both exterior and spiritual, that the priest would have had to suffer during that day. God partially answered my request and, at once, all sorts of difficulties and adversities sprang up out of nowhere, so much so that one of the sisters remarked out loud that the Lord Jesus must have a hand in this because everyone was trying Sister Faustina. The charges made were so groundless that what some sisters put forward, others denied, while I offered all this in silence on behalf of the priest. But that was not all; I began to experience interior sufferings. First, I was seized by depression and aversion towards the sisters, then a kind of uncertainty began to trouble me. I could not recollect myself during prayer, and various things would take hold of my mind. When, tired out, I entered the chapel, a strange pain seized my soul, and I began to weep softly.
Then I heard in my soul a voice, saying,
“My daughter, why are you weeping? After all, you yourself offered to undertake these sufferings. Know that what you have taken upon yourself for that soul is only a small portion. He is suffering much more.”
And I asked the Lord, "Why are You treating him like that?" The Lord answered me that it was for the triple crown meant for him: that of virginity, the priesthood and martyrdom. At that moment, a great joy flooded my soul at the sight of the great glory that is going to be his in heaven. Right away I said the Te Deum for this special grace of God; namely, of learning how God treats those He intends to have close to himself. Thus, all sufferings are nothing in comparison with what awaits us in heaven.
Here we see from St. Faustina that her depression was a share in the good Father’s suffering, and that the glory awaiting the priest in heaven far outweighed any suffering here on earth.
So what should one do if depressed? Get professional counseling. Take prescribed medication if needed. Talk it out with trusted friends. Start exercising regularly.
One great suggestion from Father Corapi is to repeat the words at the bottom of the Divine Mercy picture of Jesus:
JESUS, I TRUST IN YOU
And repeat that phrase over and over and over again. The sacred name of Jesus (God Saves) has great healing power. And besides that, if you are under spiritual attack, the enemy will flee at the sound of the name of Jesus.
There is also a biblical method of healing that God gives us as well.
And totally commit your life to Jesus Christ AND His Church – Go to confession frequently, go to daily Mass and receive Holy Communion as often as possible, say your rosary every day, keep blessed objects and holy water in your house, wear a blessed Miraculous Medal around your neck, go to Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on a regular frequent schedule, READ YOUR BIBLE and study it the Catholic way, start helping out the less fortunate with your time, talent, and treasure, and STOP SINNING as much as possible. Sin invites the devil into your life, and gives him a foothold over your future. And once he has that foothold, he is like Velcro – He sticks around and is hard to get rid of. The devil’s compensation for sin is depression, because he knows this leads to suicide. So get with the program, and use this time in your life….for your life!