Relief from Depression
Are you feeling depressed? If so, there is much you can do about it.
CASIMIR was a very happy person. For years he had served as a Christian missionary in a foreign land. Then one day, due to DDT poisoning, he became partially paralyzed. This brought him back from the missionary field but not to a life of idleness.
Though never fully regaining the use of his limbs, he kept on in the full-time ministry the best he could until one recent day when he succumbed to a heart attack at the age of sixty-six. He could have felt deeply depressed because of the great difficulty he experienced in getting around, but did he give way to any such feeling? No; he kept his joyous, outgoing disposition, to his own blessing as well as to the blessing of those about him. He set a fine example for others who may at times be victims of hardships and so inclined to feel depressed.
A WIDESPREAD PROBLEM
To be depressed means to feel sad, gloomy, dejected. It means to be discouraged, to be low in spirits. It means to be pessimistic about the present and the future.
Many people today are depressed because of the wretched conditions in the world. Others feel dejected because of poor health, old age or some physical handicap such as failing eyesight. Not a few are depressed because of loneliness, such as single men and women who are no longer young and those who have lost a loved one in death.
Still others let the wrongs, hardships and injustices they have endured make them low in spirits. At times lovers of righteousness are discouraged because of their weaknesses and shortcomings. Then again, a Christian minister may feel gloomy because of the opposition or indifference he encounters as he keeps on preaching the good news of God’s kingdom.
DO WORLD CONDITIONS DISTRESS YOU?
Do they? If so, at least that is better than for you to get so heated up that you resort to violence as so many are doing today. Such persons only make matters worse for themselves and for others. Happily, there is yet another alternative. You do not have to be either depressed or explosive with anger. You can take comfort from God’s Word. He sees what is going on.—Heb. 4:13.
Yes, take heed to wise King Solomon who advised: “If you see any oppression of the one of little means and the violent taking away of judgment and of righteousness . . . do not be amazed over the affair, for one that is higher than the high one is watching, and there are those who are high above them.”—Eccl. 5:8.
Not only does Jehovah God see all that is going on, but in his due time he will also set matters straight, even as Solomon assures us: “Because sentence against a bad work has not been executed speedily, that is why the heart of the sons of men has become fully set in them to do bad. Although a sinner may be doing bad a hundred times and continuing a long time as he pleases, yet I am also aware that it will turn out well with those fearing the true God, because they were in fear of him. But it will not turn out well at all with the wicked one, neither will he prolong his days that are like a shadow, because he is not in fear of God.”—Eccl. 8:11-13.
True, those words were written long ago, but fulfillment of Bible prophecy gives us reason to believe that this generation will see Jehovah God rising up in burning zeal to devour all wickedness. (Matt. 24:3-34; Zeph. 3:8) Since this is so you have reason to do as Jesus said, ‘Raise yourself erect and lift your head up, because your deliverance is at hand.’—Luke 21:28.
IS THE CAUSE PHYSICAL?
Or is your depression due to a rundown physical condition? Often poor health makes circumstances seem depressing; much worse than they actually are. If so, then try to remedy matters by exercising moderation in all things, in work, in pleasures and in food. Learn to relax, and make certain that you get sufficient rest and sleep. If yours is a sedentary occupation or way of life, you may find daily exercise of some kind to be quite helpful.
A feeling of depression can also be caused by some physical handicap. If that is your problem then call to mind the apostle Paul. He tells that he suffered from “a thorn in the flesh,” which he repeatedly asked God to remove. But instead of freeing Paul of this burden, God told him: “My undeserved kindness is sufficient for you; for my power is being made perfect in weakness.” Far from feeling depressed because this obstacle had not been removed, Paul said: “Most gladly, therefore, will I rather boast as respects my weaknesses, that the power of the Christ may like a tent remain over me.” Yes, make your handicap a cause for boasting in the Lord rather than a cause for depression and do this by continuing on in spite of it! For a modern example consider the minister Casimir, referred to earlier.—2 Cor. 12:7-9.
On the other hand, it could be that your depression has a more deep-seated cause. It is known that hypoglycemia, a lack of sugar in the blood, can cause one to feel depressed. Then again, a woman’s vicissitudes or the ‘change of life’ may cause her to feel that way. In such instances the remedy may lie in the right kind of therapy or medication.
COULD IT BE LONELINESS?
Loneliness can be very painful. And for young folks so also can homesickness. If either is the cause of your depression, then work at remedying it. Accept the fact that under present conditions it simply cannot be that everyone will enjoy a happy family life. If having a mate is denied you, remember that not all married persons are happy and that married persons can be lonely even though not alone. How so? Because of a failure to communicate with each other the way they should.—1 Cor. 7:28.
That is something all lonely persons should work at, learning to communicate with others. Be outgoing, ready to start conversations. Why not go out of your way to show unselfish interest in others? Seek out those who also seem to be lonely. This will be beneficial to both yourself and others. As the apostle counsels: “Speak consolingly to the depressed souls.”—1 Thess. 5:14.
Cultivate a closeness with your Creator, Jehovah God, by turning to his Word, the Bible. Especially are the Psalms, the Gospels and the inspired letters of the Christian Greek Scriptures filled with antidotes for depression. But do not read these in a hurry; you cannot gain much comfort from speed reading. Read aloud if circumstances permit; but even when reading silently, read in a way that you clearly feel the right expression. Heed Jesus’ words: “Come to me, all you who are toiling and loaded down, and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon you and become my disciples, . . . and you will find refreshment for your souls.”—Matt. 11:28-30.
Another fine aid for overcoming depression caused by loneliness is to turn to Jehovah God more frequently in prayer, not just at certain times of the day. Heed the counsel to “persevere in prayer,” and to “pray incessantly.” Because of having this precious privilege of prayer you need never feel lonely, for you always have someone to whom you can talk, Jehovah God. No question about it, prayer is one of the ways you can heed the counsel: “Throw your burden upon Jehovah himself, and he himself will sustain you. Never will he allow the righteous one to totter.”—Rom. 12:12; 1 Thess. 5:17; Ps. 55:22.
Nor to be overlooked is the fact that you may be able to get comfort and refreshment from playing the recordings of Kingdom songs as produced by the Watch Tower Society. Not only does the beautiful music itself act as an antidote for depression but the words that are associated with these songs, such as, for example, No. 97, “Balsam in Gilead” also do.
DEPRESSED BECAUSE OF INJUSTICES?
Are you depressed because of the wrongs, or crushed because of the injustices you have to endure? Are you among the many victims of racial discrimination? Or are you depressed because of having been wronged by a relative or friend?
The trend today is to retaliate in kind against those causing one to suffer, but God’s Word repeatedly counsels against it: “Return evil for evil to no one. . . . Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but yield place to the wrath; for it is written: ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says Jehovah.’”—Rom. 12:17, 19.
Rather than rendering evil for evil, tell Jehovah God about it in prayer and seek to do good to those who have harmed you. Find comfort in God’s promise that he resides “with the one crushed and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly ones and to revive the heart of the ones being crushed.” Think of that! The “High and Lofty One,” the great universal Sovereign, Jehovah God, takes an interest in the lowly and crushed ones!—Isa. 57:15.
Bear in mind that Jehovah is not only a just but also a wise and loving God. He waits to act until the best time to end injustices. As King Solomon so well noted, God has an appointed time for everything, a time for tolerating evil conditions and a time for ending them and bringing in righteousness, joy and peace. So exercise faith and do as God’s prophet Micah said he did: “I will show a waiting attitude for the God of my salvation.” It is to your interest to learn to wait and to endure these things.—Eccl. 3:1, 8; Mic. 7:7.
WEAKNESSES AND SHORTCOMINGS
Depression may be your lot because as a lover of righteousness you grieve over your own weaknesses and shortcomings. You may have trouble controlling your tongue or your temper. Or you may have some secret vice that keeps troubling you. God’s Word assures us that “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous so as to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” And if Christians are to forgive each other seventy-seven times, certainly God will also.—1 John 1:9; Matt. 18:22.
Take comfort also from the fact that no less a Christian than the apostle Paul had to struggle against sin in his body. He wrote: “The good that I wish I do not do, but the bad that I do not wish is what I practice.” He even spoke of himself as a “miserable man”! But then he gave thanks to God because with his mind he could keep serving God.—Rom. 7:19-25.
IS IT INDIFFERENCE, OPPOSITION OR PERSECUTION?
Are you a servant of Jehovah that is feeling depressed because of the apathetic or hostile attitudes you meet in your ministry? Have you labored hard and yet have seen meager results from your labors?
But what do the Scriptures say? Do they not give us to understand that that may be the lot of Christians? Surely! What then does the disciple James (5:10) tell us to do? “Brothers, take as a pattern of the suffering of evil and the exercising of patience the prophets, who spoke in the name of Jehovah.” One such prophet was Jeremiah. Though at times he got depressed he did not despair or quit. Even after Jerusalem was destroyed he could say: “Good is Jehovah to the one hoping in him, to the soul that keeps seeking for him.”—Lam. 3:25; Jer. 20:8, 9.
Or consider what the apostle Paul had to endure as he tells about it at 2 Corinthians 11:22-33. Yet he could write: “We are pressed in every way, but not cramped beyond movement; we are perplexed, but not absolutely with no way out; we are persecuted, but not left in the lurch; we are thrown down, but not destroyed.”—2 Cor. 4:8-10.
Let also Jesus’ words bring you comfort: “In the world you are having tribulation, but take courage! I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33) As long as you keep pushing ahead zealously in the Christian ministry despite indifference or opposition you are conquering the world. Doing so, you are proving God true and Satan the Devil a liar, thereby gaining everlasting life and making the heart of Jehovah God glad. What more could you want?—Prov. 27:11; Matt. 10:22.
“ACCORDING TO YOUR FAITH”
Once two blind men asked Jesus to have mercy on them. Jesus in turn asked them: “Do you have faith that I can do this?” When they answered that they did, Jesus restored their sight, saying: “According to your faith let it happen to you.”—Matt. 9:27-30.
Whatever may be the cause of your depression—world conditions, bodily infirmity, loneliness, hardships, sins and shortcomings, indifference or persecution—there is dependable, unfailing help available for overcoming it. The Word of God is filled with assuring promises. But you must exercise faith, as Jesus told those blind men: ‘According to your faith it will happen to you.’ And it must be a real faith, a faith that proves that it is alive by works, a faith that puts forth a genuine effort. As the disciple James stressed: “Indeed, as the body without spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”—Jas. 2:26.
Just reading this article is not enough. Do something about it! Spend more time reading God’s Word, give thought to talking to God, be outgoing, seek to comfort others, associate with genuine Christians. Doing so, you can expect the words of the psalmist to come true in your case: “Those sowing seed with tears will reap even with a joyful cry.”—Ps. 126:5.