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Discussion Topic

Is Having Depression a Sin?

One of my clients recently asked me, “is depression a sin?”

I can understand why someone might ask that question. We are told that if we believe in God that we should not fall into depression. That if we pray hard enough, read scripture, go to church, then we will always be happy and never feel depressed. Being depressed is a sign of weakness.

Sin=choice Depression=not a choice

My opinion is that depression is no more a sin than having diabetes, a broken leg, or having high blood pressure is a sin. Committing a sin is a choice.  Depression is a condition that you cannot control and do not have a choice. No one says, “hey, I feel like sinning today, I think that I will go and be depressed.” Anyone will tell you that when they are in a state of depression, they would do anything to get out. This is why some commit suicide–they just cannot take the pain.

There can also be a hereditary component. Research also shows that people who have relatives who are depressed are much more likely to also have clinical depression. in addition, things that happen to us early in childhood affect the way we see the world and even our brain chemistry. So some people definitely have a higher predisposition to depression.

We can still effect change in our lives no matter what hand we were dealt

That being said–that having clinical depression is not a sin–we still have personal responsibility to do all we can to prevent ourselves from falling into depression. Just like a person is responsible for staying away from carbs to manage diabetes, or from making sure you don’t eat bacon every day to prevent heart attacks.  If we make choices that are unbiblical, and we have a genetic disposition to depression, these unbiblical choices (i.e. “sin”) can ultimately lead to consequences like depression.

God knows what He’s talking about if we want to dodge depression

There are thousands of  ways that living against God’s word can cause depression. There are obvious things like abusing drugs or  having promiscuous sex.  There are other less obvious things like negative thinking (e.g. “God won’t provide” or “how can God love me?”), desire for control, or idolatry (e.g. you base your worth and life on money and then you lose it and life is over). Even legalism–which often looks like someone who is very devoted to the Lord, can also cause depression.

Can you be faithful and still fall into depression? As long as we live in a fallen world, yes.  Will the probability be lower? Yes. But will you be immune? No. God can still do what he wants, for whatever reason, that we have to trust is good. Just like Job who was faithful and did everything “right,” God still chose him to be afflicted with every kind of sad event you can imagine. Job continued to trust. It wasn’t easy but he did. And the Lord didn’t fail to be Himself–he redeemed Job’s situation, used Him to glorify Himself and to bless others like you and me with his story.

Moral of the story: For those of us who are close to someone who is depressed, it is not the time to judge, or to tell them to “be strong” or “pray harder.” We need to support them as best we can with what we have (we can’t save them, only God can), love them, pray for them, pray with them, point them to resources, give them hope where they can’t see it themselves.

For those of us who are depressed: If you struggle with depression, I am assuming you have probably been through a lot in your life up to this point.  You are a survivor. Life is tough right now. But one thing is for sure, there is help. There is hope. If you can’t do anything else, just show up–to your friend’s house, to your pastor’s office, to a therapist. Don’t give up, because He never gives up on you.

Warmly,

Lia

Lia Huynh, MFT

545 Los Coches St. Suite112

Milpitas CA 95035

(408) 599-1413

Counselor and Psychotherapist serving the Milpitas, San Jose and Fremont areas