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Christian Counseling - Taming The Beast Within

We learn in Christian Counseling that there are many Scriptures that deal with discouragement and depression in the Bible. This in itself is very encouraging since you can see that 1) depression is not some new phenomenon of this generation, and 2) you can be encouraged that God has spoken on this topic. And because He has spoken, you know that help is available to His children.

Before we continue, let us note the use of the two words, discouragement and depression. When most people use the word depression, they generally mean they are discouraged. Discouragement is not qualitatively different from depression but it is quantitatively different. For this reason, discouragement can be dangerous.
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How to Deal with Depression

It can be dangerous simply because it is the slippery slide that leads to full-blown depression. So, if you dally with discouragement, not seeing its danger, be warned; common discouragements need to be addressed Biblically and quickly. Many of the methods mentioned in this chapter can be used with discouragement as well as depression. The good news is this: the nature of discouragement is such that it is not an entrenched condition; therefore, it can be quickly rooted out. Do so with urgency; it is a snake waiting to inject the deathly poison of depression into your life.

Now let’s consider depression. In a Christian Counseling sense, depression generally means a condition in which common discouragements have brought us to a unique low, a low that has impaired our life. By this we mean that depression is a state in which one is not functioning well, or perhaps not functioning at all. Many people who are seriously depressed will not get out of bed; others sit in a chair and stare at nothing. They often cry for no apparent reason and claim they don’t know what is wrong with them.

Not only are there people who at times behave in such a way as to experience depression, there are also those people who live a lifestyle of depression. In other words, they do not appear to be pushed along the road to depression by an

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incident, as you and I may be from time to time, but they live life in the depressed zone. Such people are most difficult to help, especially if they believe it is someone else’s responsibility to make them better. Depression and irresponsibility go hand in glove.

Christian Counseling - Origins

When talking about depression, we are discussing an emotion. How does this emotion, for that matter, how do any emotions, develop in our lives?

Christian Counseling - First, the road to emotional reaction begins with the senses. We have five senses; they are sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste. These senses are the only way in which the brain receives stimuli. Without stimuli, or the memory of stimuli, thought does not, and cannot, take place.

Christian Counseling - Second, the stimuli of the senses, or the memories of stimuli, serve as the grist of the mill of the mind. That is, the brain thinks about what the senses provide as subjects of thought. So we think about what we see, hear, smell, touch, taste, or memories of the same.

Christian Counseling - Third, the body reacts physically to what the brain thinks. The body views the world through the “eyes” of the brain. Importantly, the body, or any one of its parts, has no idea if the brain is telling it the truth or not. Actually, the body never questions the brain as to whether what it tells the body is true or false; it always assumes it is true. So, if the brain tells the body “you are about to be run over,” without entering into a discussion with the brain as to whether that is true or not, the body immediately reacts. The glandular system produces adrenaline, the heart beats furiously, the skin becomes clammy, the eyes dilate, and the legs jump. In instant fear the body reacts in an effort to avoid being run over. So the emotion of fear is the product of brain activity, thought. Without thought, there would be no emotions, and without the senses, seeing and hearing, for instance, there would be no thought.

If the brain was wrong, as it often is, and the body was not actually being threatened with disaster, that would not diminish fear or slow down the legs one iota. The issue is not truth or falsehood; the issue is a lock-step and iron-clad response to thought. So, if the eyes looked where the ears indicated a car was bearing down on the body, and instead saw a truck some considerable distance away making all those noises, but not being a threat at all, it would send new signals to the body. In response, the adrenalin would dissipate, the heart would slow down, the skin would quickly dry, eyes would soon go back to their normal size, and the knees would stop knocking. In other words, the emotion of fear would quickly be replaced with the emotion of euphoria-by new thoughts.

In Christian Counseling, it is essential to understand the relationship of senses, thoughts, and emotions to each other and to depression. In essence, we think our way into depression, and by God’s help, we can think our way out again.

Christian Counseling - Depression Is a Secondary Response

Discouragement and depression are common to humanity in all ages. There are a variety of factors found in association with discouragement and depression that you should keep in mind. Some of these would be anger, grief, fear and anxiety. These are the emotions you will first encounter on your way to discouragement and then depression. It is critical that you grasp this, for ultimately, if you are to see solution to your problem of depression, you must have a clear grasp of its origin so that you might deal with the issues that set depression in motion. In other words, depression is a reaction to some other issue in your life, an issue that first produced anger, grief, fear, anxiety, or some other similar state. It is when you fail to deal with the original issues, Scripturally, that depression enters the scene. This is a point of extreme importance; do not miss it. Depression is a reaction. To deal with depression properly, you must figure out what it is a reaction to.

To accept this whole premise that depression is a reaction to something else in your life is to put you on the road to victory. For in accepting this premise, you take responsibility for your present condition and your future solution. Your depression is not someone else’s fault; it is yours. The flesh hates taking responsibility for sin. It will fight you every inch of the way. It will insist that your depression is your husband’s fault, your parents’ fault, your children’s fault, your boss’s fault, but it is never your fault. Now the great ally of the flesh is the sins of other people around you. Surely their evil behavior must be the real cause of your depression! But in fact God expects you to respond in such a way that this evil behavior does not ultimately produce depression. There is a Christian way to respond that does not result in depression. It is your response to the sins of others, or simply the sad circumstances of life, that is the key here. It is here that you will so often fail; it is here where solution begins.