Depression is a state of emotional heaviness that weighs down the heart. Depression is an umbrella term that covers feelings ranging from mild discouragement to intense despair. In order to better understand depression let me describe four types or degrees of depression.
This is sometimes called situational depression or reactive depression. This happens when normal problems press down the heart for a short period of time. People experience normal depression from rejection, failure, loss, or illness. This normal depression also happens in transitional stages like adolescence, empty nest, midlife crisis, major moves, physical changes later in life, and retirement.
When severe troubles fell upon God’s servant Job (the death of his children, the destruction of his possessions), one of Job’s friends made this observation, “Now trouble comes to you, and you are discouraged; it strikes you, and you are dismayed” (Job 4:5). Normal depression is a normal reaction to the trouble and difficult times that come into your life. Job’s reaction and feelings are normal… and so are yours.
Masked depression is hidden depression. For example, repressed memories of physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional abuse can be hidden behind masked depression. It is a state of enduring sadness based on unresolved, buried conflict. This is where painful feelings are denied or covered up; therefore, recovery takes longer because of failure to work through the pain. Relief from masked depression is unconsciously found in excessive busyness, activities, addictions, or other alternatives.
The Bible describes how hidden hurts still result in heartache. Proverbs 14:13 says, “Even in laughter the heart may ache, and joy may end in grief.” Our hearts can be very heavy even while we are laughing. We mask the hurt behind the smile.
This is a mental and emotional depressive disorder. The depression results from a failure to adjust to a distressing situation. Neurotic depression affects the normal activities of daily living. The person stays in bed longer, they seem to be disconnected and distant at times, there is a loss of energy, and they have lost concern about what they use to care about (The person who really wanted their house clean, doesn’t seem to care about it anymore). This type of depression is prolonged depression. It last longer than what is expected. Psalm 13:2 reflects this when it says, “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?”
This is the most severe type of depression. This level of depression causes people to lose contact with reality. They become a potential danger to themselves and to others. Those afflicted with this level of depression can identify with the terror, despair, and perspective described in Psalm 102, “My days vanish like smoke…. My heart is blighted and withered like grass; I forget to eat my food…. I lie awake; I have become like a bird alone on a roof…. I eat ashes as my food and mingle my drink with tears…. I wither away like grass (vs.3-4, 7, 9, 11).
No matter what the degree of emotional darkness, the Lord wants us to rely on Him to provide light. Psalm 18:28 says, “You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.” God wants to lead you out of the darkness of depression and into the light of His life. There is hope for you today.