The Root cause of Depression in the Bible

Depression can stem from hopelessness, and fear, but the root cause according to the Bible is sin along with Satan who wants to devour us.

The root cause of common depression in the Bible, science, and what the doctors say

TAKEAWAYS:

  • Depression is a spiritual battle.
  • Depression is linked with our sinful nature.
  • Unforgiveness leads to depression and anxiety.
  • Satan wants to corrupt our minds.
  • Divine affliction.
  • Knowledge, pride, and depression
  • The physiology of mental depression is rooted spiritually.

BIBLE CURE FOR ANHEDONIA?

1. Depression is a spiritual battle in the mind

Victor Frankl specialized in neurology and psychiatry. He focused on depression and suicide. From 1925 to 1945, he developed Logotherapy. It believes that life’s purpose and meaning enable us to survive despite insurmountable challenges.

Frankl shows us that the root cause of depression is a spiritual battle in the mind. Satan takes advantage of our sinful weakness by suggesting the following lies.

  • Life has no meaning.
  • Life is hopeless; there is no solution.
  • I have no purpose in life.

His theory was put to the test during WW2. Like Job, he lost all his family possessions and suffered at Auschwitz. Despite his unbearable situation, he chose to survive, knowing that “suffering had a purpose.” He believed external forces couldn’t break the “spiritual self.”

Revelation 12:9
And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

The link between mental illness and demonic influence

Early Jews associated physical disability with sin and sinister forces. However, it’s not always the case in the story of the man who was born blind (John 9:3). Likewise, various forms of mental illness were also linked similarly.

In the USA and perhaps the rest of the world, very religious people report less depression or worry. [Gallup]

The Bible acknowledges mental anxiety, which is why we’re told to focus on what is praiseworthy, pray, be thankful for everything, and put our hope in God and not fear. (1 Thessalonians 5:18; Psalm 42:11; Isaiah 41:10)

In Luke 6:18, those who came to hear Jesus were healed of their diseases; those “troubled” (mentally afflicted) by unclean spirits were also cured.

The battle begins in the mind, which is why we’re also told to repent (metanoia), which in itself is a mental attitude.

Talk therapy helps, but the root cause remains

In the Bible, we are told to share each other’s burdens, seek wisdom from elders, and bear each other’s burdens. It’s similar to what happens in talk therapy (psychotherapy) which usually eliminates the need for God.

Case and point: Mark Goodnight on the root cause of depression

Mark Goodnight wanted to kill himself at age five and again at 15. Diagnosed with level-5 neuroticism, he suffered from anxiety and anhedonia.

He saw a dozen psychiatrists and took medication for a time. Mark read self-help books to soothe depression and even did illegal drugs—but none helped.

Things began to change when he started reading the Bible. When he became a Christian, someone laid hands and prayed for healing in Jesus’ name. The blackness that consumed his life for the last twenty-five years was gone instantly.

Case and point: Emily Millora Juson on avoiding depressive thoughts

Emily had cancer, and there were signs of spreading. Chemo helped, but the cancer returned at least three times. The struggle was real, with physical pain and uncertainty, but deep depression was kept at bay.

She depended on God’s promises and saw plentiful miracles along the way. Each day passed into weeks and weeks into years. God sustains Emily to this day—devoid of chronic anxiety.

She memorized Bible verses and frequently listened to Christian music. Her mind was constantly filled with scriptures, praises, and thankfulness—Satan had nothing on her.

NEUROSIS, ANXIETY DISORDER IN THE BIBLE.

When doctors or faith did not seem to help

In 2018, Andrew Stoecklein, a young and vibrant megachurch Pastor, preached about depression and then killed himself. In 2019, Jarrid Wilson, church leader and mental health advocate, committed suicide.

Likewise, Matthew, son of Rick Warren, killed himself. Jeff Morris, son of Charles, host of ‘Haven Today,’ died from a drug overdose.

Indeed, these men are not faithless but lost the battle—despite prayers, therapy, and medication. We do not have all the answers, but one thing is sure: Jesus wants to give us life to the fullest!

CAN CHRISTIANS BE POSSESSED?

2. Giving in to sinful nature leads to depression

Sinful habits allow Satanic footholds

When we give in to sin, such as engaging in immoral relationships, watching porn, illegal drugs, or rebellion, these sinful habits allow a satanic foothold. In other words, it creates a doorway for demons to attack the mind. We’re tormented with guilt, which leads to depressive thoughts.

Interestingly, some seem undeterred by guilt. God has given them over to their depravity. These are unrepentant atheists and “children of the world” whose judgment will come.

Sin can make us feel good, but the end is destruction

A growing trend of teenagers in gay relationships labeling themselves with gender pronouns or undergoing sex change seems to give them a sense of PRIDE, satisfaction, and joy. Yet, suicide rates and depression among the LGBTQ remain high.

Apostle Paul had anxiety and struggled with his sinful nature, but he was always victorious in Christ. (2 Corinthians 11)

Romans 7:18-20
“For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing…it is a sin living in me that does it.”

WHY CAN’T I STOP SINNING?

Sin can cause depression

King David committed adultery with Bathsheba and murdered her husband, Uriah the Hittite. Despite his love and devotion to God, he had to suffer the consequences of his actions.

Consequences sins: King David’s adultery

King David committed adultery with Bathsheba and murdered her husband, Uriah the Hittite. Despite his love and devotion to God, he had to suffer the consequences of his actions.

  1. Guilt: After his actions, David’s conscience troubled him, leading to intense guilt, depression, and sadness.
  2. Isolation: David withdrew from his leadership responsibilities, a common behavior in individuals experiencing depression.
  3. Loss of joy: Known for joyful praise, David lost his joy and peace.
  4. Physical distress: Depression can manifest physically. King David’s bones wasted away.
  5. Fear and anxiety: David groaned all day long. His fear and anxiety nearly drove him crazy.

Seeking God’s forgiveness

In psalms such as Psalm 51, David expressed a profound desire for forgiveness and the restoration of his relationship with God—a typical response to the guilt and remorse linked with depression.

Case and point: A woman with schizophrenia whose root cause was the love of money

A woman was on and off at a mental hospital for schizophrenia and manic depression for a decade. After knowing Jesus, the episodes stopped. Without church fellowship, she returned to Buddhism years later.

She also became busy making money, and like a child of the world, she mocked God and declared herself an atheist who would instead worship the Chinese Buddha. Soon, her mental problem returned. Mental pills and injections helped but also turned her into a different person, controlled by the drugs.

Case and point: The daughter was raised in a Christian home but chose to live in sin

Loving Christian parents brought up Carol (not her real name). Although it would cost a lot, her parents placed her in a reputable Christian high school in Wheaton. Many American public schools discourage Christian activities yet welcome Satan as an “after-school club.”

Carol’s disobedience caused her depression to spiral downward—despite efforts, prayers, and counseling. She had inappropriate relationships and harmful influences. Carol died of a heroin overdose.

Sinful habits allows satanic foothold.

HOW TEENAGERS CAN OVERCOME DEPRESSION.

3. Unforgiveness can lead to depression

A study led by Italy’s Department of Education in 2019 showed unforgiveness was related to hedonic balance (HB) and depression. In contrast, forgiveness is effective in regulating and reducing depression. 

Dysfunctional or aggressive behaviors triggered by anger, severing ties with friends, or ruminating about others can lead to depressive thoughts, loneliness, and guilt, leading to anxiety. [Deffenbacher et al., 1996]

  • God commands us to forgive because unforgiveness causes bitterness. (Ephesians 4:31-32)
  • It imprisons our minds and prevents us from experiencing true joy. (Psalm 32:1-2)
  • Unforgiveness is the root of bitterness and causes trouble. (Hebrews 12:14:15)
  • Forgiveness brings us peace of mind. (Colossians 3:12-15)

Colossians 3:12-15
“… If you have something against someone, forgive him. That is the way the Lord forgave you. And to all these things, you must add love… Let the peace of Christ have power over your hearts…”

Forgiveness brings us peace of mind.

THE ONLY CURE FOR ANHEDONIA.

4. Satan wants to corrupt our mind

Without Christ, the “god of this world,” freely influences and corrupts our minds (2 Corinthians 4:4). The first thing he tells us is that “there is no hope.” Satan is at work with those who are disobedient to God.

Every person without God is in dire mental condition

According to John MacArthur, every person without God is in a bad mental state. It doesn’t mean their rational mind is not functioning, but they are in the kingdom of darkness.

Children of disobedience

The influence may seem circumstantial or external coming from culture, but it is still under the influence of the power of the prince of the earth, the spirit that is now at work in the children of disobedience. (Ephesians 2:2)

“Anyone who is not a believer is operating in some sense with the demonic influence,” according to John MacArthur. [Q&A 78]

Satan is at work with those who are disobedient to God.

One of the symptoms of chronic mental illness is a person’s frequent thoughts of suicide. Ultimately, these thoughts of harm come from Satan. He wants to kill and destroy us (John 10:10).

Mental illness and self-injury

In Mark 5:1-7, a man from Gerasenes lived in the tombs (caves), and he was supernaturally strong that chains could not bind him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills, he would cry out and cut himself with stones (v 5). He was immediately healed when Jesus said: “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!.”

Mark 5:5
Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains, he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones.

We see the same pattern today among teens. The pattern of self-cutting was first exposed in early 2000, and it’s getting worse at 15-20% of teens with “non-suicidal self-injury.” [AJPH]

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, nearly 20% of high school students report severe thoughts of suicide, and 9% have attempted to take their lives.

SIGNS OF DEMONIC INFLUENCE.

The frequent lie of the enemy: “There is no hope”

God may allow Satan to break our body, but those who hope in Jesus have hope and do not lose heart (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). On the other hand, Satan tells us, “There is no hope,” and death is the only escape.

  • 1 Timothy 6:5 – Depraved mind
  • 2 Corinthians 3:14 – Dull mind
  • 2 Corinthians 4:4 – Blinded mind
  • 2 Kings 6:11 – Troubled mind
  • 2 Timothy 3:8 – Corrupt mind
  • Isaiah 61:3 – Spirit of “no hope”
  • Romans 8:7 – Sinful mind

CORRELATION OF FAITH & DEPRESSION: About 61% recover from depression much faster if they have a religious or spiritual affiliation. A higher percentage (75%) is found in suicide. However, very few studies show faith and prayer “cures” depressed people. [NCBI]

WHAT SATAN CAN AND CAN NOT DO.

5. Divine affliction

There’s also “divine discipline” or affliction that causes brokenness and leads to repentance and salvation. Because God is sovereign—Holy and loving, He allows, if not causes, discomfort when we’re stubborn. He does it out of faithfulness to the elect.

Psalm 119:75
“I know, LORD, that your laws are righteous & that in faithfulness You afflicted me.”

Repentance extinguishes the root cause of depression

The Bible talks of repentance in two folds: Turning away from sin and changing of mind (metanoia). Whether the emotional problem is rooted in sin or divine affliction, the battle is in the mind. Hence, the issue of faith and belief that God is in control and will deliver us.

Unbelief is a sinful mental activity. When we ignore or refuse Jesus as our only hope, we become faithless, causing us even more depressed. The reason repentance (change of mind) is a requirement for salvation.

Although physical pain or trauma may remain, pursuing the mind of Christ extinguishes the lies of Satan. Whatever the root cause of depression is, Jesus is our savior!

We can learn a lot from the following testimonies:

6. Knowledge, pride, and depression

Increased knowledge and depression

In recent years, depression and suicide rates have been steadily increasing among Generation Z. Increased knowledge and on-demand information through the internet, the anti-social effects of smartphones and iPads are culprits.

For a time, the younger generation mocked boomers on social media for their outdated ideas and limited understanding of modern life. But boomers and their parents have lived with great difficulties and managed to survive without the luxury and ease of the current generation.

Yet, we are seeing an unprecedented rate of depression and suicide in this generation. Most of their problems aren’t about what they will eat or where they live but how society perceives and receives them.

Many of them are easily affected by certain words or phrases. We see the phenomenon of cancel culture, cultural appropriation, gender dysphoria, and woke culture as mental issues.

These are laughable mental issues when we compare them to an 18-year-old boomer in the war trenches or a high school Generation X from Asia who had to spend hours in the library and use a typewriter to finish an essay and defend it in front of teachers.

The Bible illustrates that increased knowledge can be problematic because it causes pride—and destruction comes after it. No wonder God forbade Adam and Eve to eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. It caused them grief, and they were led astray by the devil.

Ecclesiastes 1:18
With much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.

2 Corinthians 11:3
…as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

Proverbs 16:18 
Pride comes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. 

7. Physiology of mental depression

The physiology of depression is complex and not fully understood. However, research suggests that it is caused by genetic and neurochemical factors, aside from what I have already said.

Depression and neuroplasticity

Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to change and adapt in response to experience and learning. It can also decrease the number and strength of connections between neurons in the brain that help us think better or process difficulties.

Studies show depression can affect the brain’s ability to undergo neuroplastic changes in response to specific experiences. For example, when depression sets in, it can cause an imbalance of neurotransmitters (chemical messengers), implicating serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. [NCBI, 2021]

Outcomes of a stressful and problematic life

Chronic stress, a common trigger for depression, has been shown to reduce neuroplasticity in the brain by inhibiting the growth of new neurons and reducing the number of synaptic connections between neurons.

HPA Axis regulates the body’s response to stress. Profound depression may cause it to overreact, which increases cortisol response and effectively decreases neuroplasticity. [MDPI, 2022]

Nutrition on Mental Health Outcomes

A study found that juvenile detention centers had a 97% decrease in violence when kids ate healthy food with less sugar. Eating healthy also led to a 75% decrease in restraints and a 100% decrease in suicides.

Of course, other factors influence improvements in their mental health, such as counseling and a supportive environment. But the point is that environmental factors, such as having a supportive and normative nuclear family, are critical to a happy childhood.

No wonder the enemy Satan wants to destroy the concept of the traditional nuclear family and replace it with the atheist LGBTQ ideology.

TRIVIA: Yellow is the happiest color because it is the color of the sun. Sunlight exposure boosts serotonin, the “happy hormone” and a ripe banana, which is yellow, contains tryptophan, which also contributes to serotonin production.

HOW TEENAGERS CAN OVERCOME DEPRESSION.

The Physiology of Depression and Spiritual Relationship

In the Bible, Jesus was tempted in every way possible but never sinned. But when Jesus, who never sinned, was about to carry the world’s sins, He was filled with deep anguish at Gethsemani because sin separates us from God.

Likewise, all the apostles of Jesus and hundreds of His disciples experienced anguish and deep depression, yet they willingly submitted to the consequences of their faith.

To die by painful crucifixion or be boiled to death to share in Christ’s suffering takes spiritual grace. It can only come with a secure and habitual spiritual relationship with God the Father. Hence, an unbeliever will find it difficult to overcome depression.

Doctors’ solution is a medication that can make depression worse: Antidepressant drugs have been shown to increase neuroplasticity in the brain. [NC

The need for a spiritual response to depression

Psychologists may attempt to demonstrate that the physiology of mental illness has nothing to do with the spiritual dimension.

However, evidence-based research shows that the complex relationship of neuroplasticity, cortisol, and dopamine responses and the subsequent imbalance of neurotransmitters are all affected by our response mechanism. In Christianity, this response is what we call “by faith.”

The Bible is clear: we can overcome by faith, and faith and healing come by hearing God’s words!

Hebrews 11:6
Without faith, it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Romans 10:17
Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.

Proverbs 4:20-22
My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight; keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body.

SPIRITUAL WARFARE.

[1] NCBI – Religious and Spiritual Factors in Depression.
[2] APA – How Religious Beliefs Can Protect Psychological Well-being.
[3] Miller, Fletcher, Kabat-Zinn – Mindfulness meditation.
[4] NCBI – Neural correlates of healing prayers, depression, and traumatic memories.
[5] Wiley, Todd Chan – Religious beliefs compensate for purpose in life in the socially disconnected.


FURTHER READING:
Bible verses for anxiety depressive disorder.
How to overcome depression Biblically.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Please pray for my son Sean who is suffering from severe anhedonia, depression, severe insomnia, anxiety, delusions, bulemia and mania. I believe it is a stronghold that came in with a half of prescription drug. Thank you His mom

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