Dealing with depression can be difficult, especially when it affects our spiritual lives. But with proper treatment, depression does not need to keep us from feeling the comfort and guidance of the Spirit.
The symptoms of depression are fairly recognizable: apathy, sadness, guilt, lethargy, insomnia, loss of appetite, and so on. One can find plenty of information on these emotional and physical effects. However, the spiritual side effects of depression are sometimes ignored, though they are definitely there.
In her Ensign article “Depression,” Rebecca J. Clayson talks about her spiritual struggle with depression. She describes how she felt unworthy of God’s love and inadequate in her church callings. As time went on, her feelings of despair increased. “It seemed as if my soul, all that was uniquely me, had come under attack.”
Throughout her struggle, Clayson felt distant from God and had difficulty feeling the Spirit. After a while, she figured out what the real problem was—she had depression. Once she discovered what her problem was, she realized that trying to handle the depression on her own wouldn’t work. “While talking and a positive attitude did help, I had a medical condition that needed to be treated.” Once Clayton sought help from a trained professional, she was happy to eventually find the mental and physical relief she sought.
And yet simply seeking medical assistance did not entirely help Clayson find the spiritual healing she needed. But as she continued to follow her treatment plan of medication and counseling, she also focused on keeping the commandments and honoring her covenants. Eventually, her continued dedication to attending church and the temple, reading her scriptures, and praying daily helped her to finally discover the spiritual healing she needed.
It can be difficult to feel the Spirit when dealing with depression. But as we seek medical help and continue to keep the commandments, the Savior can heal the spiritual wounds depression often causes.
Read Rebecca J. Clayson’s full article, “Depression.”
—Joshua Felix, Mormon Insights
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Find more insights
Read an article on lds.org about ways to manage mental illness.
Read Camilla Stimpson’s experience with depression in her Mormon Insights article “Trusting the Lord through Anxiety and Depression.”
Read another Mormon Insights article, “Making Sense of Mental Illness,” by Jessica Staples.