It’s easier to face a thing head on when we can see where it’s coming from
It’s easier to fight my enemy when I can see him
What causes depression and where does it come from anyway?
I’ll begin by answering the second half of this question first, then we’ll get into the causes.
First off, God doesn’t cause our depression and is not the source. rather, He came to relieve our depression and give us lasting hope and fill us with joy.
Isaiah 61:3 tells us Jesus came;
To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
Verse one in the same chapter brings Jesus preaching good tidings to the poor, healing the brokenhearted, preaching deliverance to the captives, and the opening of prison doors to those who are bound. Depression is a dark prison Jesus came to free us from, not put us in.
No, we can’t saddle the responsibility for our depression on God, rather we need to turn to a darker source of responsibility. Satan, the devil himself, whom Jesus labeled a thief, murderer, and liar.
The thief does not come except to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come that they may have life and have it more abundantly.
Revelation 12:9,10 speaks of him, (the devil), as the accuser of the brethren.
He is the one responsible for the mental illness, emotional struggle, depression, and suicide the sons of men deal with. Guilt, shame, and condemnation are the fruits of sin the devil handed Adam and Eve in the garden in the Genesis story.
We need to know the source so we can treat it accordingly. We weren’t created for it, and Jesus has a redemptive plan to free us from it. Moving into that plan is our personal journey.
Okay, so it comes from the devil. What causes it then?
This one isn’t as easy to answer because depression is as complicated as personality. We are all one of a kind in one sense as far as personality, emotional wiring, and genetic makeup. Our needs are different as well as our interface with life.
We have unique histories, families of origin, and experiences of life. One person has a strong family tree and a more noble heritage than the next, who suffers an upbringing in a dysfunctional or abusive family environment.
Alcohol and substance abuse introduce dynamics that fracture the family unit and remove stability and healthy parental modeling. Divorce resulting in the single-parent raising of children emotionally handicaps the emerging adult.
Sexual identity and gender orientation becomes confused. This is all part of the devil’s strategy to destroy marriages, and individuals. It’s a personal strategy tailor made for the destruction of the individual. That’s why Jesus came; to seek and save the lost. They are the sheep that have lost their way. We are those sheep.
Three Categories of Depression
I’m going to borrow this brief overview from Gary Champan’s insightful marriage book entitled Loving Solutions, from the chapter entitled “The Depressed Spouse.” Gary is the author of “The Five Love Languages.”
Depression may be the by-product of a physical illness
For example, when you have a full-blown case of influenza, you don’t care what’s going on at the office. You want to lie still and sleep as much as possible. You lose all interest in the outside world.
You temporarily check out; Your mind and emotions have moved into a depressed state. It’s nature’s way of protecting you from constant anxiety about what you are missing in the real world.
Fortunately, the influenza passes and your depressive mood lifts, though you may have noted that it tends to hang on for a day or two after your physical symptoms are gone. It often takes the mind a couple of days to get back to its normal state.
Situational depression or reactive depression
It is the depression that grows out of a particular painful situation in life. Such depression is a reaction to those painful experiences. Most of these experiences involve a sense of loss.
For example, depression often follows the loss of a spouse by death or divorce, the loss of a job, the loss of a child to college, the loss of parents to death, the loss of a friendship, the loss of money.
Depression may also arise over the loss of a dream, such as a happy, fulfilling marriage, the loss of the love feelings that you once had for your spouse, or the loss of hope that your marriage will ever be as fulfilling as you once hoped.
A third category is depression rooted in some biochemical disorder, which has put the mind and emotions in a state of disequilibrium. Sometimes this is referred to as endogenous depression.
The word endogenous means “from with the body,” and the biochemical change inside the body is it’s source. This is depression as a sort of physical disease.
There are various forms of biological depression. Some are related directly to the brain where something goes wrong with the electrical and neurochemical transmissions. Others are related to disorders of the endocrine system.
The glands of the endocrine system (thyroid, parathyroid, thymus, pancreas, pituitary, adrenal, ovaries, and gonads) produce hormones that are released into the bloodstream to perform various functions. Lowered or heightened levels can produce depression.
Also certain disorders of metabolism can produce depression. The body is constantly assimilating food, breaking it into substances that can be stored and used as energy. When things go wrong in the metabolic system, depression can sometimes result.
For example, abnormally low blood sugar levels can produce feelings of emotional instability and depression.
There may well be biological reasons why females are more prone to depression than males. The female reproductive organs are known to create mood swings. Premenstrual syndrome, commonly known as PMS, is the depression at the onset of menstruation; it is a common occurance.
Women in menopause often face bouts of depression. The variation in estrogen levels markedly influences the mood of women.
The good news about biologically caused depression is that it is readily treated with medication. The bad news is that only about one-third of all depressions are biological depressions. The far more common depression is situational depression.
Taken from Gary Chapman’s “Loving Solutions, The depressed spouse,” Pg. 196
My family of origin and depression
Linda declared to me at a time I was struggling emotionally with the circumstances of life. Somehow it didn’t bring me much comfort, rather it made me feel angry, labeled, and defensive.
My family tree and the history Linda knows about gave her good reason to suspect that I am bipolar and a manic depressive, although I am not.
Suicide and mental illness run in the family line. My experience is your parents don’t tend to talk about these things. Unable to handle it themselves, or not knowing the broken history line of the past doesn’t bring continuity of the truth to light.
You only have what you see growing up and try to make sense of it.
My mother suffered from depression until the end. Explosive anger and severe discipline accompanied it in the early years.
One of my uncles, her brother, took his own life with a gun in my adult life. My sister, one of eight of us siblings took her life after a prolonged bout with a brain tumor four years ago. she underwent surgery to remove the tumor resulting in hearing loss and the tumor returned. She just couldn’t take it anymore.
I have a mentally ill brother who suffers from addiction, and all attempts to help him get on his feet and redeem his life have failed due to his choices and inability to take responsibility. I don’t bail him out of jail anymore.
Another had a tumor on his pituitary gland removed that almost took his life. He was suffering from extreme bipolar and his endocrine system was shot. He suffered from what is called Acromegaly, and extreme alcoholism.
The tumor was removed successfully. He is recovered alcoholic many years now, and at 61, is the oldest living person with his condition. He functions at a near-genius level, talks about quantum theory, waveform, and the like and has invented some incredible things. I prayed for him many years ago and he received the baptism of the holy spirit and raised his hands and sang in tongues praises to God. We still talk about it.
I had my doctor do some blood work at Linda’s request and he looked me in the eye and said;
“You are not bi-polar.”
I was glad to hear it because maybe I was in denial. You can be you know.
The depression I battle is what Gary calls situational or reactive depression. This depression is associated with trauma and loss.
It may not have to do with a chemical imbalance or something my body is doing to me but it did come from my family of origin and continued to stalk me throughout my adult life.
I will list the possible sources of my battle with depression.
- As a child, there was simply no grid to process the emotional horrors of life. I guess that’s enough to cause depression.
- Emotions were suppressed, and not allowed to be processed externally. Everything was stuffed, or else.
- Anger, parental conflict, and an unsafe environment were the order of the day.
- Conditional love and performance for acceptance was the environment.
- God was not involved, then when He was, religion and the performance culture took over.
- My emerging sexuality as a boy was abused by another man, distorting my view and bringing shame.
- I was introduced to pornography at a tender age, and Jesus helped me destroy that addiction. His beauty is better than any other. Diligence is required with most men to keep that door closed.
- My Grandmother, my nurture and shield from abuse died on the operating table undergoing open heart surgery when I was a young teen.
- Then the 70’s came.
- My Ex divorced me after I gave her a son, then kept him from me for nine years while I believed for the restoration of the marriage that didn’t happen.
- She has been deceased two years and my grown son doesn’t want a father. I wait for the prodigal to return, and it has to be okay if he never does, like she never did.
My pathway out of depression has been,
- Accepting what God has for me, and loving & accepting myself with my weaknesses.
- Surrendering control of my life and where it goes, knowing that I would try to chain it to what I think is best, not God’s best.
- Trusting in God’s goodness; declaring that He is good and His mercy endures forever.
- Yielding to the Father’s pruning, whether it be relationship, ministry, title, or identity. Depression comes when I don’t yield. It’s a symptom of my resistant will.
- Gratitude and thanksgiving for all he gives which is good and fulfilling when I say “yes.”
Lord, You alone hold the keys to our joy and freedom. Come into our hearts and make depression a distant memory. Help us see what we need to see to be free. We know you came to set our hearts free and heal them to wholeness. Help us stop performing for people. Help us get our validation from you and not seek it selfishly from others. Help us to love others and care about them. Free us from narcissism and self focus so we can love those who need our love and truth. Help us forgive our abusers and love those who’ve hurt us. Help us as husbands to stay clean and love our wives Lord as you loved the Church and gave yourself for her. Help us wives love and respect our husbands and honor them with our lives and how we live and speak. In Jesus’ name. Amen.