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What is depression?

“I have become disconcerted, I have bowed low to an extreme degree; all day long I have walked about sad.”Psalm 38:6.


Everyone feels down now and then, but clinical depression is a debilitating disorder that is ongoing and that interferes with a person’s daily life. It should be noted that not all experts agree on what is “normal” sadness and what constitutes a “disorder.” However, it is safe to say that some people experience profoundly negative emotions, at times accompanied by feelings of worthlessness and inordinate guilt.


The Bible tells of many men and women who experienced negative emotions. For example, Hannah felt “bitter of soul”—a phrase that has been rendered as “brokenhearted” and “deeply distressed.” (1 Samuel 1:10) On one occasion the prophet Elijah was so grief-stricken that he prayed for God to take his life!1 Kings 19:4.

First-century Christians were instructed to “speak consolingly to the depressed souls.” (1 Thessalonians 5:14) According to one reference work, the term “depressed souls” can refer to those “who are temporarily overwhelmed by the stress of life.” Clearly, even faithful men and women of the Bible at times felt depressed.

 Is depression the sufferer’s fault?

“All creation keeps on groaning together and being in pain together.”Romans 8:22.


The Bible teaches that illness is a by-product of the rebellion of the first human couple. For example, Psalm 51:5 states: “With error I was brought forth with birth pains, and in sin my mother conceived me.” And Romans 5:12 explains that “through one man [the first human, Adam] sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned.” Because we have inherited imperfection from Adam, each of us is susceptible to illness, both physical and emotional. As a result, says the Bible, “all creation keeps on groaning together and being in pain together.” (Romans 8:22) However, the Bible also offers a hope that no physician can extend—God’s promise of a peaceful new world in which all sicknesses and disorders, including depression, will be gone.Revelation 21:4.

How can you cope with depression?

“Jehovah is near to those that are broken at heart; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.”Psalm 34:18.


You cannot always control your circumstances, and bad things are bound to affect you at times. (Ecclesiastes 9:11, 12) You can, however, develop a practical strategy so that negative feelings do not dominate your life.


The Bible acknowledges that those who are sick need a physician. (Luke 5:31) So if you suffer from a debilitating mood disorder, there is nothing wrong with seeking medical attention. The Bible also emphasizes the value of prayer. For example, Psalm 55:22 says: “Throw your burden upon Jehovah himself, and he himself will sustain you. Never will he allow the righteous one to totter.” Prayer is not a psychological crutch; it is real communication with Jehovah God, who is “near to those that are broken at heart.”Psalm 34:18.

You may also benefit by confiding your feelings to a close friend. (Proverbs 17:17) “A fellow believer gently coaxed me to talk about my depression,” says Daniela, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. “Although I had been avoiding such a conversation for years, I soon realized that this was what I needed all along. I was surprised at how relieved I felt afterward.”