Should Christians Feel Guilty About Depression?
Out of all the people struggling with depression that I meet, the Christians routinely show guilt that their secular counterparts don’t. Christians routinely say they should “know better” or suggest that they aren’t getting better because they aren’t “good enough” believers to be healed. More often than not, they seem to be in denial of their depression, usually helped by friends, family, and religious leaders telling them to “snap out of it” or “cheer up.”
But, as anyone who works with depression on a daily basis, it is obvious depression isn’t something you “snap out of.” It also can’t be entirely cured through prayer. While the Lord offers support, acceptance, and endless love that can help depression patients in ways that secular patients can’t comprehend, the Bible is not the most reliable cure for a mental health issue. If miracles cured every person who prayed for them, they wouldn’t be considered miracles, and we would never have to explain our faith to anyone again.
Unfortunately, the cause of depression stems from brain chemistry. The chemicals that help maintain mood and happiness are imbalanced, and depression can take hold. Genetics can also play a big role in creating these chemical imbalances that drag us down. Christians can suffer just as atheists, though we are given tools from the church that can help us be better prepared to handle these struggles.
As Matt Mounts explains, “We all accept the fact that our bodies wear out and run down and are susceptible to disease. We can even accept the fact that our brains can be ravaged by diseases such as Alzheimer’s. But some Christians will not accept the fact that clinical depression also has specific biological causes.” We, as members of the church, work to change this stigma, but it is alarming how often this issue arrives and how frequently innocent and caring Christians attribute their struggles with depression to lack of faith.
Mounts is a full-time pastor for Community Christian Fellowship and has a Masters in Professional Counseling from Liberty University. Not only does he deal with these issues on a regular basis, he also knows first-hand the experience of depression creating doubt over your personal relationship with God. As a pastor, the guilt from his depression was “overwhelming” and it took years to understand the reality of chemical imbalances and how they can destroy everything you hold dear if you let them.
This puts Mounts in a particularly special position to discuss the weight of depression on a Christian’s heart and what can be done to fight back and reclaim normalcy and restore your confidence in your relationship with the Lord. His article for Grace Communion International should be a first step for any Christian that believes they may be struggling with depression and simultaneously feeling guilty for their struggles.