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What Causes Clinical Depression and How Can We Combat it?

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The human mind is so intricate, complex, and complicated, it is difficult to understand how it works much of the time. The 1990’s was declared the “Decade of the Brain” with many dollars and much research shedding light on the inner workings of the mind. However, to really understand how the brain works and how to combat psychological struggles and mental illness like depression, we need to use psychiatric science as well as the Bible. You see, the Bible, more than any other textbook, actually has the most accurate description of how our Creator designed our mind to work, how it gets attacked and injured, and most importantly, what He provides and we need to do to heal, or renew, our mind. Today we are going to pull back the curtain to reveal the most important concept of how God designed our mind to work and what this means for those struggling with depression.

How Humans React to Negative Situations

We know different people react to different situations in different ways. The way we react emotionally and the decisions we make during stressful events are based on our perception of the event and our abilities or coping skills to make healthy decisions, especially during challenging circumstances.

As an example, if we hear news our employer will lay some people off, and we view and respond to it as worrisome, scary or damaging, our internal organs will be affected and damaged. Our reactions to troubling news can cause physiological responses like sweating, increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, increased stomach acid (leading to heartburn or ulcers), compromised immune system leading to catching the flu, headaches, muscle tension in our neck and backs, pacing or nervous twitches, release of the stress hormone cortisol which affects many other hormones, impotence, and it can even stop women’s menstruating cycle.

Our brain is our most sensitive organ, so not only do we experience all these below the neck damages, but inaccurate perspective and unhealthy responses to stress injure our brain circuits more seriously than any other organ.

If, on the other hand, I view the same news of layoffs with Godly lenses and respond with God-honoring decisions, instead of worrying, I will more easily accept His path while peace and joy soothe my mind. An assured mindset that understands God knows my future, will provide for my needs, will let me know if He has another place He’d rather me work, wants me to be a light to encourage others who are stressed, and has a peace that passes all understanding is so freeing. With this set of lenses and attitude, not only do we not experience all those physical symptoms we described earlier, but also our brain circuitry actually gets stronger. I call Decision-Making the “Exercise for the Brain.” The Biblical term for this powerful neurobiological concept, as the Apostle Paul describes it, is the renewing of our mind.

Our Perception Key to our Decision-Making

To understand Decision-Making, we really need to integrate all 3 spheres, Spirit, Mind, and Body. Let me describe the basic process of every decision. The last step of many when we make a decision is for one of our biological hardware brain chemicals to hit another thus sending a message to our body to execute or implement our decision. But as we just discussed, our brain circuitry, or those brain chemicals that need to meet, is determined by the decisions our mind, or operating system, makes. Good decisions from a mature operating system make healthier brain circuits and poor decisions from immature, or outdated operating systems, injure our brain circuits. SPECT scans of the brain clearly show this marvelous process.

But since our perception, or view, of an event is the critical piece of decision-making, the most important question is, “What regulates clear lenses (because seeing the truth can set us free) and decides a healthy or good response?” This is where the most important sphere in our design, the spiritual sphere, comes into play and influences the decision-making process. Our belief system, whether atheist, Christian, or any other religion, forms the lens we use to see and evaluate our circumstances and then judges potential response options as healthy or harmful. The big question every one of us needs to answer is what belief system, or whose instruction manual will we use to guide us through our life journey. God, because He is our Creator, knows what we need to live the abundant life, so He gave us the B.I.B.L.E – Best Instruction Book for Living Everyday – to show us clear lenses and guide us to healthy decisions. To aid our functioning as Christians, in addition to the Bible, God gives us the Holy Spirit to live in us, enabling the Mind of Christ in us, so we can understand and apply the Bible to powerfully renew our mind and transform our life.

Growing up, we are very gullible and immature, so our lenses are quite distorted. We believe in Santa and the Tooth Fairy. Sadly, we all make a lot of wrong decisions, and remember, wrong decisions result in poor circuitry or brain damage. So we all need help, treatment, a psychospiritual healing which needs renewal. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we are eternally saved, have a new potential, and have the Holy Spirit and the Mind of Christ in us. But we don’t get a brain transplant. We all need a maturing spiritual walk renewing our damaged mind, but until then, we all suffer some psychological dysfunction. For those who have trouble processing and managing their feelings, have unhealed hurts and wounds, and have misinformation in their mind’s databank, their dysfunction often manifests as emotional issues such as the various types of depression, troubles with anger or self-esteem, or the many types of worry or anxiety disorders.

Renewal of the Mind Helps us Face Stress and Access Peace 

The Bible teaches us about the psycho-spiritual renewal we ought to strive for, the renewal allowing us to see the world and stressful situations with Godly lenses, allowing us to live in peace, thankfulness, and joy, according to God’s will.

  • Romans 12: 1-2 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
  • 2 Corinthians 10: 3-6 “We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
  • 1 Peter 1:13-15 “Prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.”
  • Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is living and active; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
  • 2 Timothy 2:15 “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, as workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”
  • 2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

When we listen to what God tells us in the Bible and allow Him to lead us, we experience an ongoing and powerful renewing of our mind, which helps us deal with all the challenges the world and this spiritual war sends our way. Daily walks with God through Bible study, worship, and prayer will aid in that renewal and give us true hope and joy. Understanding psychological science and principles allows you to break these huge Biblical concepts down into smaller pieces that are easier to understand and operationalize, or apply, in our everyday circumstances. Then God will be honored, Jesus will be glorified, and we will experience true shalom, Hebrew for peace, wholeness, well-being.