I was pointed to this video a couple of weeks ago by Tim Kimberley, who works with us at the Credo House. It was very encouraging. At every turn I felt that he was describing my exact situation. I pray that it helps someone else out there as well. Thanks to Tommy for having so much courage.

Another message a couple years earlier from Tommy Nelson on Depression:

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    29 replies to "A Christian Looks at Depression"

    • Robert John Donahue

      Which one of Job’s friends might have penned this first comment? I couldn’t tell you offhand but it’s one of the ‘friends’ who really, really makes one long for God to thunder onto the web site in some unmistakeable fashion with a WWF Smackdown for ‘advisors’ who are way, way too comfortable with how ‘right’ they are–who find it far, far too easy to speak ‘for God’, ‘on God’s behalf’, or worse yet just assuming that their many, unsupported statements each equally carry the imprimatur of God, as if a transcription would qualify their ramblings a place next to Paul in the Canon. Well, I won’t hold my breath for a social networking whirlwind God via some sort of avatar (what sign(s) would we require?) , as that would open up a whole distracting Pandora’s Box of ‘avatarial’ issues anyway.

    • Lucian

      Here is a special ministry dedicated to those confronting clinical depression. (Don’t be intimidated by the large number of entries: not all of them are valid for your situation — pick them by title & description).

      The short answer or way out of all this is: caring for others. — A person cannot be fulfilled or satisfied by something which is less than a person. Only another person can make a person complete. In my case, I’ve experienced the words of Tobit first-hand: “alms-giving saves one’s soul from death” — and it did. It truly did.

    • Lucian


      I’m sorry to shatter your theological bubble, but it was precisely the realisation of the full implications of the dogma of the Trinity which saved my soul from my depression two years ago. [But enough about this already: the LAST thing a depressed person needs is more debate and strife and discord].

    • Leslie Jebaraj

      Fred: Not only are you downright nasty, but you are damn wrong!

    • Kim Ringsmose


    • Ed Kratz

      I deleted Fred’s comment. It was uncalled for and not appropriate for the present discussion.

    • J.R.

      Amen Lisa, thank you.

    • Spencer Barfuss

      Wow! This is the exact video that I remembered watching a while ago, and this morning, I went to your blog, setting out to find that video of Tommy Nelson that was so encouraging to me. And someone already posted it! That is awesome!

      Praying for you, Michael. I wish we could have one large Skype conference to encourage you and pray for you, man.


    • Spencer Barfuss

      Actually, THIS is the video that I watched from the DTS Lectures with Tommy Nelson sharing his depression experience in 2007. Michael, WATCH this one, because it gives a lot of practical advice on what to do when you have this depression.


    • Leslie Jebaraj

      Lisa: You did the right thing! I was REALLY mad at the ludicrous comment.

    • jim

      Michael: Time for some R&R….. the video gives some excellent ideas……you need to have some fun …..and then come back to your true love…..teaching!!!

      Family time is soooo extremely important even if it takes you away from other important responsibilities…… Life is a gift to be enjoyed in balance with our spread of the gospel…

      I shall pray for seasons of refreshing for you and your family..

    • Jonny King

      Important Word,

      I had to chuckle, as I have emailed Michael, and the first thing I talked about was 1 Kings 19:4-5… Lightning?


    • Ed Kratz

      Yeah, I posted the wrong one. Someone corrected it. The top one is what I wanted people to see.

    • Blastocyst

      You’re experiencing the “dark night of the soul”; which is a modern metaphor for partially losing your faith, and becoming an agnostic.

      Like so many of us?

      If so note than many people seem to live with it. Indeed, Ecclesiastes for example

    • George

      There are those who don’t believe in “christian depression”.

    • JJ Miller

      I was in that seminary chapel back in 1982 when Bob Deffinbaugh spoke. Tommy Nelson speaks from his heart and brings this message afresh. And yet, as the his schedule is something he loved doing…I don’t think he could see it coming.

      Our schedules are something we need to be careful with…because we will destroy ourselves doing what we love. And I know that sounds nuts, but we can burn ourselves out and not even know we are doing it… in fact, thinking we could be doing more.

    • artisan

      What felled me was probably a combination of the stresses of life, suffering, and finally, a series of catastrophic illnesses, that while not terminal, were very serious, required extremely invasive surgery (brain) and led to several permanent conditions that are themselves linked to depression, although meds for depression are contraindicated because of other meds that are essential to control secondary symptoms. I live with the depression, although I have come to recognize it is sometimes a symptom/warning sign in and of itself. It should be recognized that prolonged or sustained conditions, though not terminal, can stress the body/mind to the point where depression can happen, and SSRI meds are not always an option. If one can take them, one should.

      This situation was years in the making for me – and the spiral finally started in 2004.

      But I can say that the Lord has been faithful to bring me through everything I have suffered so far, and I know he will rescue Michael.

    • Liz

      Wow. I had the same thing happen to me. About 15 years ago I fell headlong into a clinical depression. I could not control my thoughts, which became obsessive, couldn’t sleep, very high stressed. Ended up in New Life hospital program for a week. They started giving me Zoloft. After a few weeks I was started feeling like myself again.

    • Brian Eckes

      Wow, very powerful and very encouraging. It is interesting that he took (or is still taking) Lexapro at 10mgs. That is exactly what I take for my mental problems.

      I want to weep deeply for anyone who would experience the pain of clinical depression, or really any mental disorder. It can be a living hell, but THANK GOD that He does provide in so many ways.

      I still struggle at times whether it is the right thing to do to trust something that effects the mind; the mind being so precious and the gateway to understanding God in the first place (if I am wrong about that, please correct me, I am still trying to understand the mind’s role in our understanding of God).

      But I will tell you that I made a decision, a stand if you will, that I would put IT ALL IN GOD’S HANDS no matter what. Whether I took medicine or not, I would trust God in Jesus Christ throughout my life. I believe God requires us believers to give Him EVERYTHING and not to worry so much, indeed, Jesus speaks much about not being anxious and also not LETTING our minds be anxious. Paul says the same thing in his epistles.

      I just want to be used by God and if the medicine helps lifts, or even eases, the physical symptoms to let me to be productive and useful to God, then I believe I am honoring Him. There is NO condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. PRAISE GOD!!!

      Should one who is crippled refuse a crutch just because they believe that it shows they are not relying on God’s power to let them walk? To me, that is pride. On the other hand, a person who takes pills to escape life and life’s responsibilities is a sluggard. I really believe God deals with us PERSONALLY, on a case by case basis. Also, thank God for caring friends who don’t want you to suffer needlessly just because THEY think God wants the person to. Beware friends who are like Job’s friends.

      Michael, follow Christ and listen to those who have love in their hearts who want to help you. Also, like Tom said,…

    • Brian Eckes

      A couple of more sentences:

      I am not sure if this applies, so correct me if I am wrong, but when Jesus was on the cross he asked for some water did He not? Or, he at least said he ‘thirsted’ and was offered a sponge (hissop sponge) of a mixture of vinegar and water. Jesus did not refuse this kind gesture to ease His dehydration.

      Perhaps one who is suffering and needs medication can understand that even God did not refuse help. Indeed, Christ allowed another to help carry His cross. God understands our sufferings and our human brokenness and therefore, does not condemn us in Christ!

      Even if the medicine wears out or doesn’t work anymore, I am still IN CHRIST and free from condemnation if I decide to try other things to help ease the sufferings whether it be exercise, tai-chi, yoga (the physical part of it of course-my wife is in great shape because of yoga) or herbs/vitamins, etc. If we are free in Christ then we ARE ETERNALLY TRULY FREE, ESPECIALLY condemnation!! Amen!

      It has taken me a long time to trust Christ, and I still fall into those valleys again where it SEEMS like God is not there, but God is there. That is the point probably. God is teaching us to look at our feelings as gifts, but to realize that even feelings can give us a FALSE sense of God’s presence and existence. In other words, God exists and is present OUTSIDE of feelings and the human senses. Amen! That should give us comfort because sometimes we rely WAY too much on these human senses and feelings to comfort us that God is still there. He is the creator who created EVERYTHING so he exists outside of His creation for eternity.

      That may not help someone who is going through clinical depression. I totally understand that these words would just bounce off of them. But if I know that God is real apart from human senses and feelings, that gives me MORE hope to minister to that person and attend to their needs and comfort them in a Christ-like manner as best as…

    • Brian Eckes

      Wow, I am writing a book. I just feel really passionate about this topic because of having suffered in the past for more than 12 years of clinical depression.

      First off: Whether you are a believer or an unbeliever: SEEK HELP if you are suffering from clinical depression. You are still a human being made in the image of God. The following, however is more tailored towards fellow believers:

      I want to gently warn about medication, it is complicated stuff sometimes, so you have to really trust the person you see who is going to prescribe it and NEVER, NEVER stop it cold turkey (unless of course it is hurting you!). It also may take a few different tries with different medications to find one that helps your symptoms.

      I would recommend seeking God FIRST, seek ye first the kingdom of heaven, by praying DEEPLY. Seek God’s Will in this. I did not do this when I first was seeking help, that was my first mistake. I did not have a relationship back in 1994 with the Lord like I do now. I THOUGHT I was a ‘christian’ by believing all it took to be one was to be raised in a Christian household or having been baptized at age 10 or so. No! Please make SURE you are on a solid foundation with your beliefs. If I would have had a closer relationship with God at that time, some moments in my life might have gone smoother. Then again, shoulda, coulda, woulda 🙂

      Second recommendation: NEVER GIVE UP HOPE. In other words, don’t trust your faulty feelings (or lack of feelings!). Write it down if you have to or make a big poster and place it on your wall with the word HOPE written in large letters with a scripture piece underneath it. If you can’t write, have your friend or family help you write little reminders. I can’t emphasize enough how much our feelings deceive us: LEAN NOT ON OUR OWN UNDERSTANDING!

      That being said, I know how hard it is to think, focus, and process information while depressed. It is like trying to read in complete darkness.

    • Michael T.

      I have for quite awhile been going through a period of depression. It’s worse at some points then others and it’s not as bad now as it was a year and a half ago, but it is still there to some extent. You have no idea how encouraging it is to me to hear you and other Christian leaders begin to talk about this issue. Simply realizing that this is not uncommon and the shear number of Christians (pastors no less) who have gone through similar experiences is oddly comforting. As much as I wish others did not have to go through this it brings great relief to know that one is not alone.

      On that note I think that what saddens me the most about the state of the modern church is that is far too often not a place to be real about who you are and what you are going through so that others can share similar experiences and lift up those who are broken and hurting. Rather it is far too often a place to put on a fake smile and pretend that everything is alright because that is what is expected.

    • Brian Eckes

      Cont. from my last post:

      Another recommendation: lean on your friends and family, BUT, do not lean for too long and too hard. There is a personal responsibility that must be taken into consideration while going through this horrible suffering. At one time I put my wife through hell and almost broke her completely. I can’t stress enough that you must strike some kind of balance between taking responsibility for finding help and leaning on friends and family; so very important.

      So, to sum up what helped me, and I pray it can help someone else so that it can glorify God:

      1. PRAY and seek God first, even if you do not ‘feel’ Him. Just say a quick and simple prayer for His Will to be done in heaven and on earth if you do not have any mental energy. Just tell your Father that you are going through this but you realize He is there in the midst of it and can identify with us in our sufferings.

      2. Don’t immediately refuse medicine, it may be the boat that God sends by to rescue you from drowning. But seek Godly, loving people, who are professionals at treating people who suffer from the same symptoms. If you decide to take medicine, do not quite cold turkey and make sure you pray to ask God to carry you through this as well and that He protects your mind and body.

      3. NEVER GIVE UP HOPE. You can be a jerk, an a**hole, a hermit, but never, never give up HOPE. For believers especially, there is a LIVING hope: God in Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit that resides IN us and understands our afflictions. Trust me, I was a jerk, an a**hole, and a hermit when I was going through clinical depression in 1994, but even then, I did not want to give up HOPE even when I pretended that I didn’t care.

      4. It COULD be sin that is what is causing or has caused the depression. For me, and I will be blunt, what started my descent into mental hell was sleeping around and not caring for that person. Just make sure it ISN’T un-confessed sin.

    • Brian Eckes

      Cont. from last post:

      4 (cont.): Sin can cause depression, but sometimes it is just wearing yourself out as in Tom’s case in the video. If you are not sure, kick pride to the curb and ask a gentle and caring Jesus-loving pastor to help you find out if there is any sin in your life that you may need to confess and deal with.

      5. Don’t forget to eat and drink. Force yourself to eat something, anything! I know this is hard to do during depression, but, and I know this is probably bad advice, at least go to a fast food place if you don’t have the energy to cook because of the depression. Just try to eat healthy if you do go to a fast food place. I literally starved myself close to death when I was at my worst in my clinical depression sufferings.

      6. GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!!!! Force yourself or tell a friend that you need them to take you out of the house and go to a movie, the park, or somewhere peaceful so that you are not left alone with your thoughts. Satan has a powerful tactic and that is to get someone alone with their thoughts while they are suffering under depression. I stared at the ceiling for HOURS when I was suffering depression. I know it is physically draining, so if you can’t go for a walk, at least sit on the porch with a friend or sit in the grass on a blanket with a loved one. The point here is to go outside and be one with nature and fresh air. If it is nasty outside, then put on some gospel music or non-aggressive music, uplifting classical is usually a good idea.

      7. LISTEN to your friends and family. Yeah, sometimes advice can be a bad thing, but if you love your family and that love is genuinely reciprocated, PLEASE do not turn that love down. One of the mistakes I made, and I do blame this on the depression and satan (even though I still made the choices myself), was that I shunned my family and started to turn on them in anger. Depression will cause you to focus on negative thoughts.

    • Brian Eckes

      I wrote alot above, but if anyone wants to talk via email, just email me at [email protected] and I also have a Facebook page if you want to contact me there. If you are either a believer, seeker, unbeliever, pagan, etc, please do not hesitate to contact me if you want someone to correspond with if you are suffering from clinical depression/anxiety/OCD. We are all sinful human beings who are trying to survive in this broken world and if I can help or encourage anyone to keep hope alive, then I feel that God can be glorified even more and His healing love can be felt that much more. I truly believe that living and life itself is worth it and not meaningless nor hopeless 🙂 Even more worth than life and living is God Himself and experiencing a personal relationship with Him eternally through His Son.

      My email is [email protected]

      God be with us all.

    • Mary

      Please pray about the medication. The debate continues about the affects (permanent) to the brain and the chemistry changes that are believed to take place with use of anti-depressants. I will admit to having consented to their use as opposed to hormone therapy. When expressing my concerns about the possibly harmful effects of using hormone replacement, the medical practitioner suggested using anti-depressant therapy. I had heard the stories of people trying to come off them with great difficulty. When I expressed this concern, I was told they (drugs) were not addictive. I took them for 2 years and after the initial adjustment period, had my moods leveled out and life appeared good. No more crying jags, no more dark moods…no more crying AT ALL, in fact I became as hard and unfeeling as a rock!! This is my point…my brain was like on botox, emotionally paralyzed. Unfeeling and insensitive. Huge numbers of the population are on anti-depressants today and although many of these drugs do not make people live like junkies, they are psychotropics and if your brain’s chemistry is being altered….well, what are the long term effects and consequences? After taking Zoloft for 2 years, I had extreme difficulty weaning myself off and this was without the medical communities blessing. Food for thought, brother. Cannot and will not judge you for your decision, but I do believe God uses these dark times and places to speak to our hearts and the growth and blessing is a result of our trust in Him and persevering during these “momentary” afflictions.

    • Brian Eckes

      @Mary: You are absolutely right that the debate continues whether psychotropic medication is healthy for long-term, or even short-term, use.

      I went through chemical hell for a loooooong time with benzodiazipines but at first thought they were a God-send because my anxiety levels were causing me to withdraw from life. For some uses, they are a God-send, but I ended up dependent on them for a long time. It was utter hell trying to come off of them.

      Anti-depressants were hard to come off as well; these drugs WILL affect your neurochemistry, that is what they are designed to do. They are designed to regulate the levels that are off kilter in some people’s brains. The scary thing is that we do not know exactly what they do to the brain over the long-term or even how the exact mechanism works. That is scary to me because the mind is not like a simple arm or leg when it gets injured or hurt. The brain is such a delicate organ.

      That is why I agree with Mary, prayer is ESSENTIAL. I praise God that He is my ultimate resource to lean on, medicine or no. I pray over all that I put in my mouth now because I realize that God has control over all things, even the chemicals. So I think it is rational and good to ask God to bless the medicine, vitamins, food, etc, that it won’t hurt us and that it will benefit us believers. It doesn’t need to be a ritual, but I like to pray to God and tell Him basically, “I don’t really know your Will concerning my taking this medication, but I trust you and put my hope in you that I will not come to harm. I also pray that I will eventually be totally healed and can deal with my depression naturally. Amen.” I do this so I can move on in life and not sit on the edge of my bed for hours on end debating whether I should take something or not take something. The point is to acknowledge our sins and failures and ask God for His will and Grace to live each day as it comes.

      Just pray for His will in ALL things.

    • Bruce Tive

      It is important to take this message to heart. I went to my church for counseling due to a particular situation I was in. It involved a climically depressed person which was affecting me. Five minutes into my discussion with the pastor I could tell the discussion was going to go nowhere. This particular pastor was ill-equipted to deal with my type of situation. I did not hold it against him but realized how the church has not been trained to help people dealing with those who have clinical/organic problems. For this reason I so appreciated this message.

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