Over the next few weeks I want to talk about depression from a biblical perspective.

Many people who love God face times of intense discouragement. Some of their experiences fit what we would expect to see in an individual who is depressed. Discouragement is faced by nearly all people. It may last for several days, but most individuals gradually begin to feel more positive about themselves and their circumstances. Depression, on the other hand, is a state of prolonged sadness and despair. Feelings of exhaustion and hopelessness are common. The following list summarizes the symptoms of depression:

Symptoms of Depression

To be considered depressed, you would experience five or more of the following symptoms almost every day for two weeks

  1. Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day for two weeks. A person feels sad or empty, and cries often.
  2. Loss of pleasure in formerly enjoyable activities. This happens in a way that is uncharacteristic for the individual. He or she is bored with their job, or faces marital difficulty. Activities like cooking or gardening were once enjoyable, but are now burdensome tasks.
  3. Significant changes in weight or appetite. A person has gained 15 pounds, or doesn’t feel like eating (a 5% change in one month).
  4. Can’t fall asleep at night, or wakes up repeatedly throughout the night, or the person may sleep too much.
  5. Fatigue or loss of energy. A person just can’t do what they once did. To fix the gate of the fence, or clean the house is overwhelming.
  6. Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, guilt, or withdrawal. There is pain in being with others with no light at the end of the tunnel.
  7. Inability to concentrate or make decisions. The individual may spend an hour on paperwork with no progress. Making simple daily decisions becomes a chore. This is sometimes described as “painful thinking.”
  8. Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.

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Adapted from the American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)

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If a person has five out of these eight symptoms it indicates that their depression is serious. This is especially true if the first two of these symptoms have persisted every day for two weeks. This person should seek professional help, beginning with a medical doctor.

Dr James P Porowski     Raleigh NC     February 10, 2016