When emotionally and physically exhausted or discouraged a person can become despondent – feel low in spirit, dejected, or in despair. This can even be after a great achievement or spiritual victory, but is normally associated with a major defeat or disappointment, when ‘self’ is not ministered to. Symptoms include erratic sleep, a ‘can’t be bothered’ attitude, lack of motivation, an unkempt appearance, imagined or real physical ailments, sadness, hopelessness, worry, loss of affection and sex drive, irritability, and lack of self-esteem. It is triggered by an external experience of disappointment in some area, sickness, a feeling of being trapped by tragedy or circumstance, hormonal malfunction or rejection leading to self-pity. Rather than being described as a state of depleted emotions a more accurate description is the depeletion of positive emotions.
1/. Even if we can’t change the crushing circumstances of life we can take charge of our attitude – praising God, even when it is against our natural inclination (Ps 34:1; 1 Thes 5:18; Heb 13:15); focusing on the good we do have, not what we don’t. Acknowledge our help comes from the Lord who has defeated the enemy and reach out to others who are also experiencing distress – Job’s situation dramatically altered when he did this (Job 42:10-17; Ps 121:1-8; 1 Jn 3:8).
David didn’t sink into depression, but instead “Encouraged himself [found strength] in the Lord his God” when his followers considered stoning him (1 Sam 30:1-6). When confronted with adverse situations we need to make a conscious choice to “Commit our way to the Lord and trust in Him”, believing He is working everything out for our good, as we objectively work through the issues in a rational way, exercising self-control which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Ps 37:5, 138:8; Rom 8:28; Gal 5:22,23).
Take control of your thoughts
as visible molehills become mental mountains when our eyes are not focused on Christ and faith is employed negatively not positively. Do not resort to unhealthy and sinful habits to deaden the inner pain and void, instead fill your minds with good and pure thoughts, meditating on the promises and words of the Bible (Phil 4:8). There is always something good in every situation for “If Christ is for us, who can be against us? In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Rom 8:31-39). He gives the “Oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Isa 61:3). “You will fill me with joy in your presence” (Ps 16:11). “Why are you downcast, O my soul?...Put your hope in God” (Ps 42:5, 43:5). “My soul is downcast...yet I call to mind and have hope [in] the Lord’s great love and faithfulness" (Lam 3:19-22). Be fully yielded to the Lord, by “Seeking first His Kingdom...Loving Him with your whole heart...” (Mt 6:33; Lk 10:27). God loves me and is committed to carrying on until completion what He has started in me (Phil 1:6). “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression” so “Cast all your cares on Him…” (Prov 12:25; 1 Pet 5:7). If we are “filled with the Spirit” then there isn’t room for self (Eph 5:18).
3/. Counseling, psychotherapy, retraining negative thought patterns and medication are some of the other effective treatments available; besides having time out to be refreshed in body and spirit the mind will also see things in a better perspective, seeing what’s for you rather than what is against you.
Have a purpose to live for – something bigger than you as undue self-focus always causes depression – this destructive habit can be broken, by becoming ‘other focused’. Un-forgiveness of others and even bitterness towards God for allowing something ‘not desirable’ to happen, so forgive others and yourself for mistakes of the past (Mt 6:12). Don’t live in isolation rather develop strong friendships with those who uplift and stimulate your faith, for anxiety and depression increase when there is a loss of communal connection and support.
Emotional people particularly feel elated when things are going well but sink onto depression when hardship or problems arise. The peace and joy of Christ should help us keep level headed preventing us sinking into self-pity during low periods while guarding us from pride and self-sufficiency in good times.
See also: burnout, deliverance, discouragement, despair, emotions, focus, friends/friendships, hope, isolation, mind, moods, not being ministered to, others, positive mental attitude, praise, rejection, relationships, self-pity, stress, thankfulness, thinking/thoughts.