Just for Catholics

Depression

Question: Is depression a sin?

Answer: No, depression is not a sin. It is perfectly normal to feel downcast and melancholic when bad things happen to you. We go through a period of mourning and grief after the loss of a loved one or after a major setback. The underlying cause may not always be obvious, but there is always a cause. Some medical conditions (such as hypothyroidism and neuralgia) are also associated with depression.

People can influence us for good or bad. Thus the Psalmist asks, “Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” (Psalm 42:9). At other times one may be his own worst enemy. After many months of misery, David realized that his unconfessed sin was the source of all his troubles. “When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was turned into the drought of summer” (Psalm 32:3,4).

Thus, while depression per se is not sin, sin is a cause (but not the only cause) of depression. One should examine himself honestly before God. You will only prolong sorrow and grief by hiding sin in your heart. In that case, all the anti-depressants of the world would not cure you. Confession to God is the only way of liberty. “I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,' and You forgave the iniquity of my sin” (Psalm 32:5). David re-discovered the joy and blessedness of God after he repented.

We should add that whatever the underlying cause/s, as sinners we tend to complicate matters further by our sinful responses and attitudes. For example, if I don’t feel like doing my work and instead spend the day in laziness, watching TV or sleeping instead of facing my responsibilities, well, when the day is over I would feel even worse. On the other hand, if despite my lethargy, I get up and do the best that I can, afterwards I’ll feel satisfied. Or say, if I were being harassed, would harbouring resentment and bitterness in my heart do anything to improve my mood? Rather, Jesus told us to pray and do good to our enemies. I admit that this is difficult and humanly impossible. Should we then be surprised that so many remain entrapped in their depression?

I am not suggesting a magical solution. One may even go through a period – sometimes months – of deep darkness and pain and a sense of hopelessness. Even God seems to hide His face during this desert experience.

And yet, by faith, I know God is control. He permits me to go through the shadow of the valley of death – for my good. I may not understand why. But I am confident that my heavenly Father knows what’s best for me. He is my Father! And He never leaves me nor forsakes me along the weary way. I cannot see Him with my eyes. I may not feel Him in my heart. Yet by faith I know He is right here. God is with me!

Life is not a bed of roses. It is a mixture of sweet and bitter, of joy and sorrow. We need to learn to do three things. I need to learn how to cry, for there are times and occasions when it is proper and right to weep. But then, I need to learn how to STOP crying. I cannot live all my life in grief and depression. And finally, I need to enjoy the good things of life…and most of all the love of God, which is better than anything and anybody else.

Friend, you are going through difficult time in life. Don’t loose heart. Look to God. Obey and trust Him and enjoy with thanksgiving the good gifts of God…yes, enjoy God himself.

“Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God” (Psalm 43:5).

Copyright Dr Joe Mizzi. Permission to copy and distribute this article without textual changes. < BACK TO Q&A