DEPRESSION: Disease, Disorder, Choice and or spirit
Before we get into the debate over which categories depression falls under, let us look at some definitions and background. The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) stated in an April 2016 Fact Sheet on ‘Depression,’ that “depression is a common mental disorder. Globally, an estimated 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression. Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease… At its worst, depression can lead to suicide… Although there are effective treatments for depression, fewer than half of those affected in the world receive treatments.” According to a March 2017 WHO update, “over 800,000 people die due to suicide every year. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in 15-29 year-olds…”
The CDC states, “Depression is a serious medical illness and an important public health issue. Depression is characterized by persistent sadness and sometimes irritability and is one of the leading causes of disease or injury worldwide… The economic burden of depression, including workplace costs, direct costs and suicide – related costs, was estimated to be $210 billion in 2010… Depression is associated with significant healthcare needs, school problems, loss of work, and earlier mortality… associated with an increased risk… of heart disease… absenteeism in workplace, which results in lower income and higher unemployment… associated with higher risk for other conditions… anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, eating disorders, smoking…”
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (NCHS Data Brief, no. 172; 12/2014): “7.6% or 1 out of 20 Americans 12 and older reported current depression (moderate or severe depressive symptoms in the past 2 weeks)… 2009-2012… Persons living below the poverty level were nearly 2 ½ times more likely to have depression that those at or above the poverty level… of those with severe symptoms, 35% reported having contact with a mental health professional in the past year.” Thus, no doubt that ‘Depression’ is real, and a real health and economic factor.
CDC: $1 Trillion a Year and Leading Causes
According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control; 2016), “Arthritis is the most common cause of disability.’ Also the CDC reported that obesity and diabetes were leading causes of disease and death and that ‘52% of adults aged 18 years or older did not meet recommendations for aerobic exercise or physical activity… 76% did not meet recommendations for muscle-strengthening physical activity… in 2011… 36% of adolescents and 38% of adults said they ate fruit less than once a day… 1 of every 5 adults (42 million Americans) smoked cigarettes in 2012… smoking accounts for more than 480,000 deaths each year (wow – when will our Nation outlaw cigarettes – to h_ll with the tax/money argument)… alcohol is responsible for 88,000 deaths each year, more than half …due to binge drinking (a significant portion since we stopped the Blue Laws)… 2010 cost for heart disease and stroke was $315 billion… Cancer $157 billion… Diabetes in 2012 was $245 billion… arthritis… $128 billion… medical costs linked to obesity were estimated to be $147 billion in 2008… economic cost due to smoking… $289 billion a year… economic costs of drinking too much alcohol were estimated to be $224 billion or $1.90 a drink…” Thus, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and depression cost Americans about a trillion dollars each year.
Illness: a condition of being unhealthy in your body or mind; a specific condition that prevents your body or mind from working normally; a sickness, ailment, or disease.
Sickness: the state of being ill; feeling nausea or ailing from some condition.
Anxiety: fear or nervousness; the feeling of worry, nervousness or unease; possibly a nervous disorder accompanied by excessive uneasiness and apprehension and occasionally with abnormal behavior or panic attacks.
Disorder: to disturb the regular or normal function or order (of our health); ie… MENTAL DISORDER… as defined by Merriam-Webster, “any of a broad range of medical conditions (such as major depression, schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder, or panic order) that are marked primarily by sufficient disorganization of personality, mind, or emotions to impair normal psychological functioning and cause marked distress or disability and that are typically associated with a disruption in normal thinking, feeling, mood, behavior, interpersonal interactions, or daily functioning… Scientific American, December 1991).”
Disease: a disorder of structure or function in the body; especially one that produces specific signs or symptoms… a disposition that affects a specific location and is not simply a direct result of physical injury… a particular quality, habit or disposition… a condition that prevents the body or mind from working normally; a problem that a person, group or society has and cannot stop.
Spirit: the nonphysical part of a person that is the seat of emotions and character; psyche; inner being; mind; will; feelings; ego; a force. Also a ‘spirit’ can be a supernatural being; angel or demon.
Choice: an act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities; such as ‘the choice between good and evil.’ Choice is the ability of having an option or alternative.
THE DEBATE: Choice and/or Something else
In the sense that an illness is ‘a condition of being unhealthy’ depression and a multitude of things, including improper diet, sleep and exercise cause us to be ill. So we must get more ‘specific’ than simply calling depression an illness or sickness. Obviously anxiety and depression are related; but that does not answer the question of whether it is: a disorder, disease, spirit, and or choice.
DISORDER: What is ‘Normal’ and ‘Abnormal?’
Before Alfred Kinsey’s biased studies and best seller Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948), and until the mid-1950’s the American Psychiatric Association listed Homosexuality as a mental disorder. States had criminal statutes against it; but after decades of public acceptance and political pressure – homosexuality (including male with male intercourse) was no longer labelled as ‘abnormal’ or a disorder, even though it is most certainly out of the norm and ‘abominable’ in the biblical sense. The point is that to say what is normal and abnormal can change with the morals of society. There is a truth, but seeing and believing that truth can change over the generations.
So, DEPRESSION is normal in the sense that it is common to a significant percentage of the world’s population. In the sense that a brain disorder characterized by persistently depressed mood impairing daily life may be cause by abnormal activity of neural circuits is unclear and not easily proven in most cases. In the sense that suffers of depression experience abnormal symptoms and behaviors then yes depression can be abnormal. In the sense it is required to be called and labelled a “Disorder” or “Disease” or “Illness” to qualify for Federal Funds, Medicare, Medicaid, etc… than it is all of these things. Thus, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) states, “Depression is a real illness… (it) affects people in different ways. Depression is treatable… there are several types of depressive disorders…” Whether all cases can be treated successfully is another question. However, the fact that Depression is listed or even qualifies and is a disorder does not resolve the question of can depression be a Choice and or a spirit.
NIMH, 2016 Depression, What You Need to Know (36 page booklet)
About 44 million adults experience mental illness each year; 1 in 5 adults; for more MENTAL HEALTH FACTS from NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness): http://www.nami.org/NAMI/media/NAMI-Media/Infographics/GeneralMHFacts.pdf
NAMI Helpline: 800-950-NAMI (6264)
National Prayer Line: 1-800-4-Prayer (800-477-2937)
Depression, Anxiety, Stress Test: https://www.depression-anxiety-stress-test.org/take-the-test.html
Is DEPRESSION a DISEASE?
By the most basic definition of ‘Disease’ being any condition that impairs the normal function of the body, Depression is a disease. And it is a des-ease (old French) – dis-ease (middle English) because depression causes a lack of ease, distress, stress, etc. However, there is little proof that Depression is a congenital (at birth) disease. It is true our DNA and genetics play a significant part in who we are; but fetuses are not born with emotional Depression.
However, according to MedicalDaily.com (12/4/2013), certain studies suggest that “babies born to pregnant moms with depression are likely to experience alteration in brain development, increasing their vulnerability to mental illness.” “The American Pregnancy Association says the significant hormonal changes can affect the level of brain chemicals that regulate mood, known as neurotransmitters… Mood swings that become more frequent and intense lasting more than two weeks could lead to serious health issues for the mother and the baby… This form of depression could transmit mood and anxiety disorders to a growing fetus with the alteration of their amygdala.”
OK, just what mothers need is more stress worrying about how their stress can affect their babies – in or out of the womb. It is just as likely that eating unwashed fruits or rare or raw meats will transfer parasites through the umbilical cord as a mother’s stress will cause the fetus a disease. The point is there are a thousand sad things that could happen to babies including disabilities and handicaps that lead to some to depression – depression is almost always not the cause, but the byproduct of certain other illnesses, abuses, and situations.
NAMI states that one-half of chronic mental illnesses begin by the age of 14 and three-quarters by the age of 24. The vast portion comes under ‘anxiety,’ followed by ‘major depression’ at about 7% and bipolar at less than 3%.
Depression is not a genetic disease caused by genetic mutation, yet it can be a disease caused by other genetic disease and inherited physical, mental or social conditions. It is not a ‘terminal disease’ in the sense that the AMA and APA say it can be treated; but for many it is a every terminal disease in the sense that it is the leading factor of suicide. Depression is an acquired disease and a mental disorder, because its battleground takes place in the head; which is why pharmaceutical companies make billions producing attempts to adjust people’s neurotransmitters. Reminder: diet and exercise and sunshine and even ice cream and cake can affect our naturally produced Serotonin levels; i.e. Serotonin receptors – neurotransmitters and antioxidant levels.
Millions of people, and tens of millions worldwide could simply treat their MILD DEPRESSION (and borderline diabetes and obesity) by proper diet, exposure to sunlight and exercise. Smoking also contributes to fetus abnormalities and possible future medical and social problems. Childhood obesity has tripled in the U.S. over the last three decades, according to the CDC. And divorce and split parent homes are more likely to affect Depression, than genetics. Studies prove single-parent homes, as well as poverty conditions lead to both obesity and depression.
If you want to fight depression; start with fighting poverty and teaching: how to marry, raise families, honor God and man, to proper eat, sleep and exercise (although I can’t say much about sleeping – 6 hours average for years). Simple formula to tell if you are Obese:
|BMI: normal weight for young to middle aged adults: 18.5 to 25, 25 to 30 overweight; over 30 – obese: BMI = [Weight in pounds / (Height in inches x Height in inches)] x 703. W / (divided by) H2 (squared) x 703; example: 200 pounds x 6 foot (72 inches) = [200/ (72 x 72)] x 703 = 27.1 BMI Note: insurance companies and physicians still consider older adults in ‘good health’ at 10 to 15% above 25 BMI.
I recommend for over age 40: http://www.smartbmicalculator.com/
OK, so depression can be a disease; but does that rule out choice and spirit?
Can DEPRESSION be caused by a spirit?
Depression is related to anxiety and one of the definitions of anxiety was ‘fear.’ In the Apostle Paul’s letter 2 Timothy (1:7) it says, “God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love and of a sound mind.” Peter said, ‘cast all you care upon the Lord (1 Pet. 5:7),’ and likewise, Christ said, ‘Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (peace) (Matt. 11:28).’ David said, ‘cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you (Psa. 55:22).’
I will address three issues here. Are there spirits? Can they come in the form of depression? And how can they be stopped?
ARE THERE SPIRITS?
Are there spirits, angelic and demonic and a general spirit of the world? David, speaking of the Spirit of the Lord, said as recorded in the Holy Bible, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I go down to the grave (Sheol), you are there (Psalm 139:8).” Thus, there is no place that the Spirit of the Lord cannot see or occupy. And there are angelic spirits in the heavens and allowed on earth according to the will of God.
Likewise, demonic spirits seek those they may influence or devour. King Saul was tormented by ‘an evil spirit (1 Sam. 18:10),’ and Saul had the witch of Endor who had a ‘familiar spirit’ ‘conjure up the dead (1 Sam. 28:7) which later lead to his suicide (1 Sam. 31:4). And David also was succumb by a ‘lying spirit (1Kings 22:22).’ David understood the war that can take place in the spirit and in choices, thus he said to the Lord, “Take not your Holy Spirit from me (Psalm 51:11).”
OK, I could give dozens of more biblical examples, yet some of you are not convinced. Would you believe me if I told you I was directly involved in at least three demonic encounters/possessions? Did you know the movie The Exorcist (1971) was based on the case of Roland Doe. Or consider the case of Latoya Ammons children; her daughter witnessed levitating, a son thrown out of a bathroom (I know a friend, a former SEC lineman thrown across a room, witnessed by his wife), or her other son – seen by a nurse walking backwards up a wall onto the ceiling. Consider Howard Pittman’s adopted daughter, rescued as a child in a dog cage feed with dog food by a sick psycho-parent – of who Officer Pittman stated, (paraphrase from our retreat) “when I saw her, I believed in the spiritual realm, because no human could do that without being influenced by a spirit.”
Consider Clara Cele’s pact with Satan and how she was recorded as being able to understand several foreign languages she was never exposed to before. Or how she was witnessed levitating or throwing people like throwing pillows (like ‘Legion’ in the Bible). Consider Psychologist R. Gallagher and the account of who he calls ‘Julia.’ She would enter trances and utter foul things in different voices and even possess ‘words of knowledge.’ By the way, through the Spirit of the Lord, one time the Lord show me a vision of a man i only met one time at Church, of him anointing himself at a stream on a mountain – I hesitantly told him and he said he did that last week in Arkansas and the Lord was confirming that He saw him.
Consider the testimonies of Ecuador tribesmen who killed Jim Elliot, Nate Saint and 3 other missionaries in 1956. Dayuma Caento (of the murderous Aucas tribe), the first Chirstian convert told how one of the missionaries had shown them a picture of someone from their tribe that was pulled from his pocket and certain tribesmen thought they captured her spirit; and immediately after killing the missionaries they saw ‘a hundred lights’ (angels) on the hill that began to sing. And I could tell you of tens of other first person accounts and hundreds of other testimonies.
Can spirits come in the form of ‘depression?’
There is a general spiritual battle in the world – what some call ‘good’ vs. ‘evil.’ In truth, the devil and his angels (demons) ‘come to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10).’ And there is a general battle over nations and people, ‘for our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, authorities and powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12).’ But how does this work.
Evil forces use everything including culture, tradition, education, religion and media to influence people. They use spiritual temptations of lust and envy and a thousand others. As Christ Jesus said in what is called the parable of the sower (Matthew 13 or Luke 8), the Lord sows His word into the world, but “some fell on rock and… withered away because it lacked moisture (care). And some fell among thorns… they heard the word of God, but are choked with the cares of the world, lust for riches and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity…” Thus, you see – yes spirits can tempt us with depression and a hundred other things that led to depression. This does not mean that major and severe depression is exclusively caused by demons or spirits; only that depression is not simply caused only by social conditions, physical injury, genetics, or neurological reasons.
DO WE HAVE A CHOICE?
Do we have a Choice? Nobel Prize mathematician and economist John Nash (‘A Beautiful Mind’) of Princeton University developed serious paranoid schizophrenia and at least mild clinical depression. Nash was plagued with delusional voices and images. He was able to return to teach after he ‘consciously rejected’ the delusions. He stated in 1994, “I spent times… in hospitals …on an involuntary basis… I finally renounced my delusional hypotheses and reverted to thinking of myself as a human of more conventional circumstances… gradually I began to intellectually reject some of the delusionally influenced lines of thinking…” Thus he chose to consciously discard his paranoid delusions; and stopped taking psychiatric medication and eventually allowed to teach again.
Paul says ‘Though we walk in the flesh, we do not war in the flesh, but our weapons …are mighty… to destroy arguments, casting down imaginations and every spiritual force that is lifted up against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ… (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).’ This is not an easy process of course; it requires faith, obedience, patience, discipline and yielding to the Spirit of God.
Can it be done without the Spirit of the Lord – yes, occasionally; but the fact is that most people cannot overcome depression in their own power – which is why most need other treatment, including counseling and drugs.
I personally have battle depression and the temptations that both precede and accompany it for years. I chose to cast off suicidal suggestions as quickly as possible – not always quick – but in consider my testimony and life as a sacrifice of living for the glory of God, regardless of what comes my way. Yes, I often fall to depression and stress; but more often than not if not joy, at least the peace of God comes in the morning. For me it is a battle, in which I often plead to God to rescue me from. However, much of my depression has been brought on due to financial stress and debt slavery and bad choices – and the Lord counsel me many times – it only hurts because you have something to lose. Thus, if you have no worries or nothing to lose, you can’t be hurt by the loss or depressed by the potential loss of your child, home, car, business, lifestyle, health, etc. We have little control over many difficult situations in life and most of us can chose to be conquered by stress and losses, or to let others help us and endure life.
For more on Depression and the battle see: Overcoming SUICIDE and SEVERE DEPRESSION