Depression – Body or Soul?
by Benjamin Hammond
Depression is a condition that can stop a person from functioning normally as a human being. It is registered as an official condition, and is often treated from a biological perpective. In the book of registered conditions, it is often put down to specific biological functions in the brain, such as a lack of certain hormones, or an excess in them. The treatment is a drug, known as ‘happy pills’ to produce or reduce an amount of hormones in the brain. But I do not believe that depression is simply a mis-function of the brain. I believe that depression has everything to do with the deepest yearnings of the soul.
It is good to know that I am writing from a Christian perspective, and I am writing according to what I believe. Firstly, I will say that there is plenty of evidence for a link between depression and biological functions in the brain. However, there is not a direct link. There is simply a correlation. They are only related. You see, I think that there something deeper when it comes to depression. I think depression has everything to do with the functionality of our souls.
The soul is a fundamental part of you. C.S. Lewis writes:
You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.
In the Christian doctrine, it is evident that we are our souls. Our bodies are mere carriers of our souls. The book of Revelation suggests that we exist at moments when we do not even have a body. Before Jesus died, he said to God that he should ‘recieve his spirit’, and then he died. We are soul, not body. Therefore, it makes sense why many problems we have as humans should not be explained by biological factors. We have spiritual illnesses, because we are spirit, and not body.
So in what sense is depression a spiritual illness? How is it explained from a spiritual perspective? Well, to begin the diagnosis of any disease, one must have an understanding of what is normal to find out what is not. What is normal for the spirit? As I understand it, our souls were created by God, but not randomly. Our souls were created with a sense of purpose. We were created with a sense of purpose. It is normal for us to have a feeling that speaks to us and says, “What am I here for?” It is meant for us to find our purpose, and to fulfill it. This is the basic normality for the soul.
Now comes the identification of the problem. Since the most basic normality for the soul is to fulfill purpose, it follows that the most basic problem for the soul is not to fulfill purpose. That, in short, is what I believe depression to be. When a soul is in genuine belief that there is no purpose, or that purpose cannot be fulfilled – we are in essence – dead. We were created to fulfill purpose. To believe that there is no purpose, or that there is no way to fulfill it is a denial of life, because life is about purpose. That is depression. To find purpose and to fulfill it is hard, yes, but you are in trouble when you see no purpose.
From an even deeper perspective, we shall look at some causes of depression. I have already stated that depression is a disbelief in purpose, or disbelief in ability to fulfill purpose. But where does the disbelief come from? The answer is – Satan. Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy. One of his greatest titles is ‘the father of lies’, and he is rightly called so. Depression is essentially the belief in the biggest lie that can be told in the universe. It is the lie saying that you cannot do what God made you to do. And I say again, it is a denial of life. What is life? God is life. What does God [life] tell us? God tells us, “You can.” And so to believe that ‘you cannot’ is to deny the words of God – it is to deny life itself. And if life is to be denied, what is the point of living? That is why depression and suicide are so highly associated. Without purpose, life cannot be lived.
Depression is dangerous. It is self destructive. Once you believe that ‘you cannot’, it is hard to get back in the belief that you can again. It is a flow of lies that is incredibly strong. But do you know what? God doesn’t just tell us that we can, he has shown us that we can. To show that there is no truth in the words of Satan, he came down to earth, and he defeated the father of lies. One of the many things Jesus demonstrated when he died was that Satan doesn’t have reign over us anymore. The earth belonged to Satan when we handed him the keys with a bite into the forbidden fruit. Jesus came and took those keys back. We can now choose whether to live under Satans kingdom of lies, or Jesus’ kingdom of truth. You can fulfill your purpose. It can be hard to know exactly what it is, but it all comes under this branch: bring glory to God. As soon as you say to yourself, “I can fulfill my purpose.” you’re already bringing glory to God. Believing that you can is part of fulfilling purpose in itself! Depression (lies) multiplies your pain, truth multiplies your peace and satisfaction. We can choose one or the other.
You can break free from the cycle of depression. All of us will experience it at some point in our lives. Some of us more than others. But you won’t find the remedy in a tablet. The remedy is in God’s word. God’s truth. Take a bit of that, and you’ll notice the difference.