Examples of depression, anxiety, and mental illness in the Bible
1. Gerasene demoniac: Psychotic behavior
Demonic possession is real. It is commonly caused by a particular sin, delving into occultism or allegiance to the devil. Its symptoms are similar to what we call psychotic behavior, a mental illness that manifests in violent behavior, hallucinations, or delusions.
Jesus healed people controlled by demonic entities. They were entirely out of control because several demons took control of their faculties and tormented them.
When Jesus came to their area, He brought deliverance for them from the powers of darkness by commanding legions to leave the body of a demoniac insane man.
There is a distinction between (mild) depression and psychotic behavior. While both are forms of mental illness, the latter is considered demonization in the Bible. Not all mental illnesses are caused by the devil.
When He arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men from the tombs met Him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way…
The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.”
Not all mental illnesses are caused by the devil.
2. King David’s anguish and anxiety
Although King David was after God’s own heart. He loves God, but his sins caught up with him. Depending on the sin, it can cause a doorway for the enemy to have something against us.
In David’s case, he committed adultery and murder. Satan used sin and guilt to torment him through his enemies. He was devastated.
Lord, don’t rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your rage! 2 Your arrows have struck deep, and your blows are crushing me. 3 Because of your anger, my whole body is sick; my health is broken because of my sins.
4 My guilt overwhelms me—it is too heavy to bear. 5 My wounds fester and stink because of my foolish sins.
David’s sins caught up with him.
3. The testing of Job
The story of Job is the most inspiring story of how to overcome depression. He experienced what could be the worst “divine suffering” in the Bible, next to Jesus. He lost his family and wealth and was ridden with boils.
He was surrounded by negativity and wanted to die. Job showed moments of weakness and even questioned his God. Yet he humbled himself and trusted God’s sovereignty. Job did not blame God.
Job 1:20 – Then Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship.
21 He said, “I came naked from my “other’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had and has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!” 22 In all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God.
Job did not blame God.
4. Divine affliction
Depression and anxiety are common even among believers because Satan is at war with God’s children. He wants to “devour” them. As children of God, we are not immune to suffering or affliction, but it’s the only way for God to test our faith if it is genuine.
God may allow the enemy to persecute us to strengthen our faith. In short, we may experience “divine afflictions” purposely.
When we suffer or are persecuted for the Gospel, we share in the sufferings of Christ to share in His glory. To suffer like Christ is a privilege we share with Him. It does not mean we contribute to salvation.
2 Corinthians 1:6-7
If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings.
2 Corinthians 4:8-9
We are afflicted in every way but not crushed, perplexed but not driven to despair, persecuted but not forsaken, struck down but not destroyed;
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but God delivers him from all of them. And he will keep all his bones so none of them will be broken.
Now, if we are children, we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ if indeed we share in his sufferings so that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
We share in the sufferings of Christ.