How to Prevent Slipping into Depression
Does your happiness depend on everything in your life being just right? If you think you can’t be happy until all your circumstances are right, you will never be happy. We all experience times in life when we feel down for various reasons, but we can’t allow our circumstances to control our emotions. Satan seeks to fill our minds with negative thoughts and emotions that cause us to feel down. He is a discourager, and he pulls us down emotionally, spiritually, financially, and in every way he can. But Jesus is our Encourager, and He came to lift us up. He came to give us righteousness, peace and joy, and all these things cause us to feel up!
Everyone experiences times of frustration and distress over unfulfilled hopes and dreams. When things don’t go according to our plans, it is normal to feel disappointment. But we must be careful how we deal with that feeling, because disappointment is the beginning stage of depression. If we remain in a state of disappointment for too long, it can turn into discouragement, despair, and finally depression. Psalm 30:5 tells us that …Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Things may make us feel sad temporarily, but we must not stay sad. Just as we cannot afford to stay mad very long, neither can we stay sad very long. If we do, Satan takes advantage of the open door and pushes his way further into our lives, bringing more serious problems with him.
Don’t Trust Your Thoughts and Feelings
Our number one enemy is emotions. We tend to be led by how we feel, but we must realize that feelings are fickle; they change from day to day! We should be careful not to follow every thought that comes to our mind because our thoughts and feelings don’t dictate truth to us. For many years of my life, I experienced regular depression. I would awaken many mornings with a little voice in my head saying, “I feel depressed.” I believed this was my own thought, not realizing that it was Satan making suggestions to me through my mind. Later, when God drew me into a closer walk with Him and I began seriously studying His Word, I learned that I didn’t have to follow every feeling and thought that I had. I began to speak aloud and say, “I will not be depressed.” I learned to put on the garment of praise spoken of in Isaiah 61:3. We may not always feel like praising, but a victorious person does not have the luxury of living by feelings.
I’ve learned that staying disappointed can cause me to start feeling discouraged, which is a deeper problem than disappointment. But I’ve also learned that you can’t be hopeful and discouraged at the same time. So as soon as the devil attacks us with disappointment and we start feeling discouraged, we need to turn to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to fill us with hope. A brief period of discouragement may not have a devastating effect, but long-term discouragement can lead to depression—a very serious problem.
Resist the Devil and Rejoice in the Lord!
Depression is defined in part as “a hollow; being in a low state; a state of sadness; dejection.” The real cause of depression is not where we are, but our attitude about where we find ourselves. It is possible to learn to live on the other side of your feelings. We will always have feelings; they will never go away, but we can make our feelings line up with our decisions. That’s why God gives us the fruit of self-control. James 4:7 tells us to resist the devil, and we must also resist depression, and anything that resembles it, because it is of the devil. Philippians 4:4 says, Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, gladden yourselves in Him]; again I say, Rejoice! If we stay filled with the right thing, the wrong thing has no place.
If you don’t let the devil impress you with what he does, then he can’t oppress you; and if he can’t oppress you, then he can’t depress you. So choose to be led by the Holy Spirit and you can have victory over depression. We can choose to keep a hopeful attitude by renewing our minds with the promises found in God’s Word. We can claim the promises as our own and stand in faith, believing God to help us overcome our feelings and move forward into better things. We can’t control all of our circumstances, but we don’t have to let what happens today ruin tomorrow. We can actually turn things around by making a decision to let go of the situations that caused the disappointment and discouragement, and move toward the good things God has planned for our future.
Many people are depressed because they can’t face truth, but the Holy Spirit came to reveal truth to us. We can’t get past depression until we quit making excuses and blaming everyone else. We must face the truth and take responsibility for our actions. When we do that and ask God to help us, the spirit of heaviness leaves us and we feel light and free. Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:30, …My burden is light and easy to be borne. Being depressed about circumstances does not change them, and it is a total waste of time and a thief of joy. So we must stop letting our feelings, mind, body, and past experiences rule us and allow God to give us a fresh plan, a new idea, a new goal! You can experience victory over your emotions by being led, guided, controlled, and ruled by the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus sent to us as our Comforter, Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener and Standby to remain with us forever (see John 14:16). Thank God, we don’t have to be disappointed, discouraged, despondent, depressed or in despair. Jesus is not only the Way, but He is also the way out! Jesus is our healer, our glory, and the lifter of our heads.
This article is taken from Joyce’s audio teaching, Understanding and Overcoming Depression.