Mumbai Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) | HANDLING DEPRESSION


3rd October, 2016
Mr. Francis D'souza (Courtesy Charisindia Magazine) HANDLING DEPRESSION


An old legend tells of an angel who was sent by God to inform Satan that all his methods of defeating humanity would be taken away from him. The devil pleaded with him to let him retain at least one – depression. The angel agreed thinking that it was a minor request. Satan was very happy because with that one ‘gift’ he could succeed in all his wicked plans.
In every age, God's people have struggled with this crippling emotion. Elijah's cry "It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life!" was the cry of a despondent man (1 Kings 19:4). Others like Job and David knew similar agony of soul, but they emerged from it with stronger faith.
What is depression?
Depression is a disease which affects almost everyone at some time in their life. It is a combination of feelings comprising of abandonment, confusion, and a condition of prolonged grief. Depressed people are prone to be victims to the thought of worthlessness,  anxiety, and failure. A victim of depression tends to lie in disconnect from everyone around. The worst is when the person assumes that there can be no escape from the situation and thus the choice of death becomes preferable to life. 
According to one report, there are over 350 million people in the world who suffer from depression and another states that one in every 10,000 of these are prone to commit suicide.
Elijah - one of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament, and a witness to numerous miracles from being fed at the brook of Cherith by ravens, to calling fire from heaven on his sacrifice. He too became a victim of fear and depression owing to the death-threat he received from the wicked queen Jezebel.
Its causes
Depression is usually triggered by a significant life event, may it be a financial crisis, forced separation from a relation or the death of a loved one. It can also arise when one senses the lack of acknowledgment and appreciation. In addition to the aforementioned psychological causes a life of serious sin can also cause depression.
Its effects
A person suffering from depression is trapped in an awful and   wretched experience that results in loneliness, exhaustion and despair.
Depression doesn't only affect the mind, it also affects the body. Some of the physical effects include erratic sleep and food habits, constant fatigue, muscle aches and migraines.
It also has a cruel way of making us think we are all alone and that no one cares for us, not even God.
Although it being labeled as a psychological ailment, the effects of depression rank this disease as one that is as hard to cope with in comparison to any other physical sickness. Undetected cases often tend to worsen over time and without proper medical guidance it can prove to be a life-long struggle and an extremely draining experience. Its effects can range from minor mood swings, loss of memory, concentration, and to even suicidal tendencies if ignored for long.
The remedies
Medical advances today have come up with various treatments for effective recovery both through medications and psychotherapies. However, a significantly important ingredient in the fight against depression is one’s resilience and will.
The story of Elijah (1 King 17–19) however reveals the first and necessary steps of combating depression.
We know from Scriptures that Elijah who at one time was riding the crest of faith had plummeted to the depths of despondency and despair because of the impending danger to his life at the instance of the queen Jezebel.
Had he taken his eyes off the Lord?
Was he focusing too much on the problem?
Was he a victim of pride?
Whatever be the answers, one thing is sure that due to the fear that had gripped him he was fleeing, fleeing not merely to Judah but to Beersheba - to the end of civilization.
But the good thing was that he was fleeing in the right direction – towards Horeb, the Mount of the Lord and hence he was better disposed to be ministered by the Lord.
It must be noted that the Lord did not rebuke or abandon Elijah for his shift of focus in this case rather sent an angel to restore his ebbing strength by providing for his physical needs. As Os Guinness points out that "God's remedy for Elijah's depression was not a refresher course in theology but food and sleep."
Further, the Lord revealed Himself and reminded him that He was quietly working among His people. Next, He renewed his mission by giving him new orders. Finally, God reminded him that he wasn't alone.
To conclude here is the summary of the remedies for depression:
This encounter with God will reinforce in us His tender loving
Godly Counsel 
The powerful Word of God ministered during the counseling
sessions will fill the mind with a renewed hope.
Sacramental confession, with perfect contrition will aid in overcoming the effects of depression.
The Lord created medicines from the earth, and a sensible person will not hesitate to use them. Sirach 38:4
Adequate food and sleep
This is not only a practical remedy but also a spiritual one.
Remember the steps God took to restore Elijah’s ebbing strength? First, He let him catch up on his sleep. Then, He provided nourishment to give him energy. Finally, God gave him a new vision of His power.
Hence, if you are depressed due to circumstances beyond your control, God's initial remedy for you is probably extra sleep or a day off.  
Resilient spirit
The key to our resilience lies in the exchange of our limited resources for God’s limitless strength and it is ours for the asking.
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power of love and of self-discipline. (2 Tim 1:7)
Keeping ourselves involved
Like Elijah we too in our encounter with the Lord will be assigned work and fresh responsibilities. Carrying out these tasks will keep us occupied and thus our minds will be away from thoughts that may drag us down. Remember the old saying - “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop”.
If you look at the world, you will be distressed;
If you look within you, you will be depressed;
But if you look at Christ, you will be at rest.