It has been some time since I had an episode of depression. I cannot be sure, but I am fairly certain I know what caused it.

Neither my circumstances nor the pressures of my life have changed but I feel really good. I can be motivated, encouraged, and I am enjoying the things I normally enjoy. Yes, I did almost cry today when I listened to an old country classic with my wife, “Don’t Take the Girl” by Tim McGraw, but that is only to be expected! No more sadness over bizarre things like the aging of Matthew Mcconaughey, the memories of watching Justice League with my son Will, or my days at seminary. I think it is over.

When I wrote before, I said that I was not sure what triggered the depression. I only assumed that it was many things that had built up in my life that I failed to deal with properly. While those thing were factors during the depression, I do not believe that they caused it. So what did?

I mentioned about six months ago that I had been having trouble with my tail-bone. I have a fractured vertebra in my lower back from many years ago. Over the years it has given me lots of trouble. This time, according to the doctor, the trouble was “referred pain” into my tail-bone. I could not hardly sit down for a long time. After going to many doctors, the only solution they had was to get on pain meds until the inflammation went down. I have never been on pain meds before. I don’t even like to take aspirin (tough guy syndrome). But the pain was too bad this time. So I started taking Hydrocodone (Vicodin), which, as I understand it, is a powerful narcotic. It took the edge off and allowed me to function. It also put me in a pretty good mood.

I was taking about 30 per week under the supervision of my doctor. I knew that it was addictive, but I read up enough on it that I felt comfortable with my dosage and plans to get off. I was on it for about three months before the doctor started scaling down. I read up on side effects for coming off it and found that those who were addicted to it were taking much more than I was. Some of them took one hundred a day and did this for over a year! I figured I was safe.

After three and a half months, I decided to just quit cold turkey and skip any further scale downs. It was a week later that I went into the serious depression/panic. I know what you are thinking: “Duh . . . of course that was the cause.” I thought the same thing but dismissed it after I searched across the web looking for side effect of coming off the drug. Only rarely did they mention depression. Most of the time it was severe physical pain. I had none of that so I looked for other reasons. Plus, I watch House and know what he went through!

As you know, after about seven weeks, the depression symptoms disappeared completely. Since then I have talked with a few people who described the exact same thing after coming off the same drug. Because of this, even though I have not had any physical or mental inclination or drive to take the drug again, I have concluded that my depression was because I was addicted to the pain meds. I was going through withdrawals.

I think that there is a sufficiency in the probability that this was the cause due to the available evidence. Alternative theories are possibilities, but not probabilities! (Okay, inside stuff going on there.)

To be truthful, I am glad it was the drugs. I feel as if I don’t have to be timid and avoid emotionally distressing situations or thoughts. I had gotten to the point that I was scared to do certain things I needed to do fearing it would cause another collapse.

While in many ways it is “back to business” in my life, in other ways it will never be. I have said it before and I will say it again: that was the worst thing I have ever been through. I am glad it is over and I hope that I am right about the cause. Either way, my heart is with those who are there right now. Also, be careful with those pain meds. Count the cost for the small amount of relief (and euphoria) they provide. Right now, I will take tailbone pain a thousand times over rather than experience one day of the crash the drugs facilitate!

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. 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. Find him everywhere: Find him everywhere

    9 replies to "Final Update on My Depression (I Hope)"

    • Jeff


      Glad you are feeling better and hope you can stay off the pain meds which can have so many negative side effects.

      For all those who suffer depression and don’t know the exact cause, please pray for healing and encourage understanding, compassion and awareness of medical treatment options that are available even if it is complicated to get the right treatment.

      This is not a one treatment fits all kind of illness … but there are many options and some do work whether they are medicine oriented or therapy oriented or Christian counseling or all the above. Dr. Paul Meier’s books are a good start … I mentioned a good one called “Blue Genes” in a previous post.

      After my wife’s experience with depression, I’ve met so many people who have gone through it … some I’d known for years (both men and women) but until our family had experienced it, I was never aware. God has a way of opening your eyes when you walk through something painful.

      The stigma of depression in our culture and in our church often keeps people from sharing their experience and getting the help they need. When you’re in a depression, you absolutely need the help of loved ones that God has placed in your path.

      God Bless You and I hope you don’t experience that again. Thanks for having the courage to discuss your experience and let others share about theirs in an open forum.

    • JRoach

      I too took Hydrocodone for a few years and went through a depression. I found myself taking the Hydrocodone for pain and for the “feeling” it gave me. Living in constant arthritis pain in my back, neck and feet are too much to bear at times. I can see how it can be addicting and I often took more than was prescribed. I have not taken it in several months and my withdrawal symptoms were not as bad as they could have been. I don’t believe the Hydrocodone led to my depression but it sure put me in a good mood after taking it.

      Any narcotic has to be taken as prescribed and with caution. I take pain meds daily because the pain itself can cause depression.

      We humans can be so fragile.

    • Cornell Machiavelli


      You are addicted to pain meds if you use them to regulate your mood. If you were taking it to alleviate pain, then your addiction would be minimal. The problem is that some people get on pain meds and shift the reason for taking them from pain management to mood regulation. If you take pain meds to regulate your mood, get off them as fast as you know how. They will destroy your life because the pain meds cause a chemical reaction that your volition can not fight. I’ve literally walked over to my pain meds yelling at myself for wanting to take them. I wasn’t taking them to fight the pain but to regulate my mood. Once you reach that point, you will likely do as I did…. end up in the mental ward of a hospital. I can not emphasize enough how important it is to get off any pain meds that you find yourself taking to regulate your mood.

      It looks like you overcame your slight addiction. That is a battle that many can not win. You need to thank the Lord that you came out on the other side of that battle. It will be one of the hardest battles you’ll have to fight. Unfortunately, I had to find that out the hard way.


    • Lucian

      Addiction was the cause in my case too, although not because of any kind of substance-abuse, but because of the clinging to certain passions.

      Be careful.

    • Saint and Sinner


      Good to know that you are all better. Praise God!


    • A. Amos Love


      In my experience, depression, sickness, and dis…ease…
      Often starts with a broken heart.

      When your heart is not at ease, it’s at dis…ease,
      When your heart is at dis…ease long enough,
      it often results in disease.

      Jesus, He heals the broken hearted and binds up our wounds.

      Thought this site might be a benefit.

      “God’s Words of Comfort & Healing”

      **The Book **- Free download – PDF – Read off your computer.

      **The Posters** – Forty five 8 x 10 wall posters.
      in color, and black and white with just the “Word of God.”

      Put them on hospital room walls, in nursing homes, prisons, etc.,
      anywhere people are in recovery.

      Give attention to **my words.**
      Incline your ear to **my sayings.**
      **Do not let them depart from your eyes.**
      Keep them in the midst of your heart.
      for **they are life** to those who find them.
      And **health** to all their flesh.
      Proverbs 4:20 + 22

      **The Words** – Free download to itunes – Audio and Text.

      Scriptures, on ten topics, important in the healing process.
      Listen on line or download the audio and burn them on CD’s.

      Words and Sayings…
      From God’s Word… about…

      Prayer, Healing, The Word of God, Faith, Love,
      Mercy, Trust, Joy, Forgiveness, Comfort.

      ALL free, for ALL to use, as the Lord leads.
      Freely you have received, freely give…

      In His Service. By His Grace.

    • Alone


      I’m very glad that you’re out of your time of darkness and that you’ve figured out why it came. I hope and pray that you don’t have to go through that again. My depression is genetic, and my episodes are shorter than yours was but they happen much more frequently. I am sorry, I know I am very selfish for using your blog this way, but I am going through such a time right now. If you could find the time, please pray for me.


      DEAR MICHAEL AND EVERYONE: I am glad i stumbled across this site on the web when scrolling. My own depression started fifteen years ago and i have been taking SEROXAT since. to be honest, i do not find seroxat that good. some sites on the web say cannabis is better. but where i live, cannabis is not legalised … yet! and, anyway, i want to give up smoking. maybe i could get cannabis powder in a milk shake. anyway, i do tend to have negative thoughts and funny sleep patterns. but i realise suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. this is why i hope i NEVER take my god-given life. If i am in conversation with anyone, which is very seldom as i tend to be a loner, i discuss my depression with them. so far, nobody has given me a dirty look. that is probably because EVERYONE out there knows some relative who has this depression problem. anyway, thanks very much for reading THIS far!

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