Healing Depression

DR. JOE JOHNSON, pastorjoejohnson@gmail.com

What is depression?

Healing the Wounded Spirit, John & Paula Sandford.  Depression is a condition in which our personal spirit has died to its capacity to sustain the person fully, either emotionally or physically.  Despondency is not the same as depression.  We all have highs and lows.  Normal people know that tomorrow they will feel better.  The key factor is that they still possess hope.  A depressed person cannot help himself.  He must be resurrected b y the prayers of others.  Overcoming depression is not a matter of will power.  Recovery is not a matter of thinking more positively, making a series of positive confessions.  Depressed people are not only without hope. They know that tomorrow will not be better.

Loving Yourself, Walter Trobisch  At the root of every depression is the feeling of having lost something.  The deepest root of depression is the feeling that I have lost myself.  There are different kinds of losses:  Loss of job completed, battle won, adrenaline after preaching Sunday morning, confidence, health, self_respect, youth, job, or retirement. 
Depression is not a sign of weakness.  Strong people fall into it.  The German word for depression is schwermut, which comes from two German words, schwer, the word for heavy, and mut, the word for courage.  The word schwermut means the courage to be heavy_hearted, the courage to live with what is heavy or difficult. Shallow, superficial people seldom have depressions.  It requires a certain inner depth of mind to be in depression.  Artists and musicians tend to be more susceptible to depressions perhaps because this courage to be heavy is a prerequisite for fruitfulness. 

The Lost Virtue of Happiness:  Discovering the Disciplines of the Good Life J.P. Moreland & Klaus Issler Chapter Seven:  Defeating Two Hardships of Life:  Anxiety and Depression pp. 160-161, “The Physical Aspects of Anxiety and Depression.”

Exercise enchains the release of endorphins in the brain which help to elevate our mood and sense of well being…weight training or some form of exercise  that tears down, restores and strengthens muscles helps regulate the level of serotonin in the brain, something critical for eliminating anxiety and depression. 


Ask two or three, not all of these questions.

1.  Do you wonder sometimes if you will ever be happy again?

2.  Do you sometimes feel like you are not your real self?

3.  Does it seem at times that part of you has died?  What losses have you experienced?

4.  Do you wonder sometimes if your life counts for anything? Does my life have purpose or meaning?

5.  Do you sometimes feel like your spirit is saying, “I quit”? Do you lack physical energy to do little things?

6.   Do you speak a lot of “shoulds” to yourself?  Feel shame for not being what you believe you should be?

7.  Do you hesitate to ask help for others or from God because you’ve been disappointed too many times and don’t want to be disappointed again?

8.  Do you have difficulty sleeping or sleep more than usual? Loss or increase of appetite?

9.  Is every little decision a major burden?  Do you find that you can’t make yourself do the simplest household chores or tasks on the job, which you used to do easily?

10.  When did the depression begin and what was happening in your life at the time?


There still is a stigma in the church for emotional and mental disorders.  There are two kinds of pain we experience.  Physical pain and mental or emotional pain.   It is acceptable to have physical pain and shameful to have emotional or mental pain.  There is a heavy stigma in the Christian community against the use of medication for chemical imbalance disorders such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and attention deficit disorder.   God provides physical healing for chemical imbalance mood disorders through medication.  He also can heal directly through prayer for physical healing.  I am thankful for both ways of healing.   Dr Grant Mullen writes in his book, Why Do I Feel So Down When My Faith Should Lift Me Up? that when we have depletion in our brain chemistry it results in blurred thinking and negative thoughts that we are unable to control.  Our mind is racing with these thoughts, which result in worries, anxieties and fears.   In medicine they are called anxiety disorders.  In an anxiety mood disorder a person cannot shut off the fearful thoughts and they just keep racing through the mind like an audiotape that can’t be stopped.  Like depression, these are inherited conditions, which usually respond well to antidepressants.  These medications correct the chemical imbalance and return thought control to normal.    He goes on to explain that blurred thinking, which goes with emotional pain, can be compared to blurred vision.  We do not have any problem with people wearing glasses.  We don’t say, “Shame on you for wearing glasses.  Forget about that problem, if you are a Christian and have faith you won’t need to wear glasses. Is there someone in your life you need to forgive so you can be healed of a blurred vision?  That’s all in the past, your vision problem, now that you are a Christian.” Dr. Mullen says it is helpful to think of chemical imbalances in the same way as needing glasses, except in this case the glasses need to be swallowed to restore proper brain chemistry.   To ignore or refuse treatment for this condition is just like refusing to wear our glasses and voluntarily living with the consequences of poor vision.

Ministry of healing prayer  Before praying say something like,“I can help you.  I know a person who was depressed and learned some things that helped her.  I have faith that this prayer will help. I will believe for you.   You do not have to believe.  A depressed person knows that if anything is up to him, it won’t work. Say anything that will help lift any pressure they are feeling to perform or do it right.

Prayer  (with help from Agnes Sanford).  Jesus, bring to life the part of (name) which has been lost or stopped living.  Light the candle in her spirit that has been snuffed out.  Bring to life the real person.  Jesus be with (name) when she started withdrawing from life because of all the pain.  Minister Your love and acceptance to (name). I know Lord that (name) may not feel anything at present.  We are not doing this on the basis of feelings, but on the basis of my faith and I know it will work.    Sooner or later, maybe today, maybe next weeK, but certainly in the near future, this person will begin to feel better, like suddenly seeing a blade of grass popping up through the snow.  I’m going to hold you in my heart.  I will keep on praying until you are totally free and out of depression. I know it will work, Lord and I thank and praise you for it.

Follow up suggestions:

 Ask, “What is one thing you do when you feel most like your real self?”  Encourage the person to do one thing like take a bath, or walk, or do something that helps them feel like their real self.  Take the initiative to make another appointment for prayer.  I want to see you again. 

Ask, “What are some things you look forward to doing in your life? each day? this coming week?”   Help the person identify little things they look forward to in their lives, e.g. watching a favorite program on TV, movies, dancing, Starbucks.

About pastorjoejohnson

Heart of the Father Ministry Founder and Director
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2 Responses to Healing Depression

  1. lisagmsw says:

    This is an exceptional post Pastor Joe. The Prayer (with help from Agnes Sanford) made me weep. I want to go back 11 years and lift it up to that part of me that had lost all hope! Praise be to God, I was eventually delivered fro that treacherous illness.

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