The earliest reference to what is meant by our word depression was the word melancholia, which literally means “black bile.” The assumption is that if the melancholy person had an excess of black bile, it would result in depression. In the second century AD, the physician Aretaeus referred to his melancholy patients as “sad, dismayed, sleepless… They become thin by their agitation and loss of refreshing sleep… At the more advanced state, they complain of a thousand futilities and desire death. [H. Norman Wright, Beating the Blues: Overcoming Depression and Stress (Ventura, CA: Regal, 1988), 9.]
Today melancholia is defined as “a mental condition characterized by extreme depression, bodily complaints, and often hallucinations and delusions.” [Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, s.v. “Melancholia.] For those suffering during this dark night of the soul, it could be said…
“For all of them, deep darkness is their morning; they make friends with the terrors of darkness.” Job 24:17
Depression is the psychological term pertaining to the mental, emotional, and behavioral characteristics of a depressed person. (Psychology is the study of the mind as it relates to thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, focusing on why people think, feel, and act as they do.) [Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, s.v. “Psychology.” An example of this can be shown in the following manner. Those engulfed in the dark waves of depression feel desperately alone and often blame God for their plight.
“You have taken my companions and
loved ones from me; the darkness is
my closest friend.” Psalm 88:18
Depression is a psychological state in which the heart is pressed down and unable to experience joy. Those suffering with depression feel trapped underneath a dark, pervasion canopy of sadness, grief, guilt, and hopelessness.
“Darkness comes upon them in the daytime;
at noon they grope as in the night.”
Depression is a psychological condition that affects the whole person: body (the physical, soul (the mind, will, and emotions), and spirit (the source of our deepest inner needs). Many who are depressed feel as though this verse describes them…
“All his days he eats in darkness, with great frustration, affliction and anger.”
Depression is an umbrella term that covers feelings ranging from discouragement to despair. [Stephen A. Grunlan and Daniel H. Lambrides, Healing Relationships: A Christian’s Manual for Lay Counseling (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 1984), 121] No matter the degree of darkness, the Lord wants us to rely on Him to provide light.
“You, O Lord, keep my lamp
burning; my God turns my darkness
into light” Psalm 18:28