Depression and Anxiety in America
America is one of the greatest countries in the world. But, Americans are also some of the most depressed and anxious people in the world. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 18.1% of the population each year. Major Depressive Disorder is the leading cause of disability for individuals ages 15 to 44. Unfortunately only around 40% of individuals with these disorders are ever treated. Depression and anxiety support is essential for people to begin their personal journey towards healing.
TURN TO THE BIBLE
GOD AND DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY
Both anxiety and depression are discussed in the Bible, but in different ways. Anxiety is described directly, where depression seems to be experienced by individuals in the Bible. The Bible can serve as a great option for depression and anxiety support.
It’s often said that depression results from a chemical imbalance, but that figure of speech doesn’t capture how complex the disease is. Research suggests that depression doesn’t spring from simply having too much or too little of certain brain chemicals. Rather, there are many possible causes of depression, including faulty mood regulation by the brain, genetic vulnerability, stressful life events, medications, and medical problems. It’s believed that several of these forces interact to bring on depression, although depression can come from other sources as well like external or psychological problems, some people have problems with their families and life which could cause depression, while others could be unhappy with their appearance and have low self esteem, and that’s why people sometimes get help with this from professionals as Dr. Arthur Shektman that specialize in cosmetic changes.
To be sure, chemicals are involved in this process, but it is not a simple matter of one chemical being too low and another too high. Rather, many chemicals are involved, working both inside and outside nerve cells. There are millions, even billions, of chemical reactions that make up the dynamic system that is responsible for your mood, perceptions, and how you experience life.
With this level of complexity, you can see how two people might have similar symptoms of depression, but the problem on the inside, and therefore what treatments will work best, may be entirely different.
There are multiple verse in the Bible speaking to worry and anxiety. In the Old Testament, God explains why his people should never feel the need to be afraid. He says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Is. 41:10). God wants his people to know they are taken care of by their heavenly father.
In the New Testament Jesus built on this idea while preaching about about worry. Speaking to a large crowd he told them not to worry. As an example he pointed to birds and noted how they never worry about their next meal because God takes care of them. He then pointed to flowers along the ground, reminding the crowd that they never worry about what to wear, even though they are always dressed so beautifully by God. Jesus then makes the point, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt. 6:34).
The apostle Paul writes, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”(Phil. 4:6-7). This verse is a good reminder that we don’t need to be anxious about anything because we know that God will answer our prayers for help.
Anxious feelings are hard to fight. And those with a diagnosable disorder may need medicine, counseling other forms of depression and anxiety support. But, it is still important to know that God is present and will help when one feels anxious. This truth may not make anxious feelings fly away, but they can help us in the midst of battle.
Multiple individuals in the Bible felt down and despondent. Jonah gave up on life after God saved the Ninevites (Jonah 4). Job worked through understandably low emotions after suffering the loss of his family and finances (Job 1-2). But, the person in the Bible most clearly expressing feelings related to depression is King David.
King David chronicled his depression through Psalms in the Bible. Psalms 42 and 43 reveal a king depressed as he struggles to hear God in the midst of a dark time. He writes, “My tears have been my food day and night” (Ps. 42:3). David then writes twice, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?” (Ps. 42:5). Individuals struggling with depression might relate to what Kind David is sharing here. He goes on to say, “all your waves and breakers have swept over me” (Ps. 42:7). Sometimes those dealing with depression feel like the world is against them. They’re continually fighting against the world and even against their own feelings.
King David is a friend of the depressed because even though he was a man after God’s own heart, he struggled with depression. If you’re suffering through negative thoughts and feelings it can be helpful to know you’re not alone.
David also wrote this encouragement in Psalms 40, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God” (Ps. 40:1-3).
Those looking for depression and anxiety support should know that God sees where you are and what you’re feeling. As David hoped in the Lord, we can put our hope in the in help that God gives to get us through dark times. We may not feel his presence, but we can rest knowing that God is present and he is at work in our lives and in the world.
DEPRESSION AN ANXIETY SUPPORT
At South Fellowship, we offer an “Overcome” support group twice a year. This support group was developed by the ministry of My Quiet Cave. Overcome is a 9 week group study for those impacted by a mental illness or disorder and is based on the belief that all people are valuable regardless of their mental health.
Our next Overcome group will begin meeting on Sunday, September 8th.