"The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed."
Anxiety. Depression. Mental health.
We hear these words so often, don't we? In circles of close friends and the news, maybe even from the pulpit on Sunday mornings.
Depending on where you are, or what your background is, these words might carry a taboo undercurrent. Mental health shouldn't affect "good Christians" according to some church leaders. If you have enough faith; enough desire for God, you should experience nothing but joy and satisfaction.
Unfortunately, too many Christian brothers and sisters have fallen for these lies and sunk deeper into depression, believing that their lack of faith was the root cause of the emptiness they couldn't "pray away". But we know from examples in scripture and even by the suffering of Jesus Himself that depression, anxiety and pain are not cancelled out by "having enough faith". Real, chemical balances exist inside our brains, altering our mental state and creating an environment that is either homeostatic and functional, or not. God created our bodies to be incredibly unique and sensitive to certain things, and the levels of hormones in our brains are no exception.
I was diagnosed with Persistent Depressive Disorder (also known as Dysthymia) back in November of 2017. After acknowledging that my mood, anxiety and lack of energy were not normal, I pursued medical help and was put on an antidepressant immediately. The main takeaway I have from that experience is this: we are holistic beings. If your physical body (and brain) are suffering because of hormone imbalances or underlying illnesses, your emotional and spiritual health will suffer as well. Taking care of yourself and acknowledging that mental illness is just as serious (and treatable) as any other illness is crucial.
As the body of Christ, we need to be well aware of the effect mental health has on ourselves, our loved ones and those around us who need the Gospel. Arming ourselves with knowledge from Scripture, current medical data and personal anecdotes means that we will be better equipped to lift up and care for the people in our midst suffering under the weight of clinical depression and anxiety.
Mental health crosses over with so many other aspects of our lives. Here on A&E, I want to discuss depression and anxiety from a personal perspective, and through the shared stories of others who have suffered the fog and isolation of these specific burdens. In addition to posts that cover this topic, I want to offer a page of resources (all from a faith-based perspective) for those dealing with mental health issues.
As always, please reach out through the Contact page if you are seeking encouragement or someone to reach out to.
Those who Struggle with Depression & Anxiety:
Those who Love Someone Struggling with Depression & Anxiety:
Books on Depression:
"Depression: Looking Up From Stubborn Darkness" by Edward T. Welch
"When the Darkness Will Not Lift" by John Piper