The Three Degrees of Depression

can occur when your body chemistry does not function properly. Some people experience both. During these heavy-hearted times when hope seems elusive, emotions feel flat and the heart feels sick. Solomon, the wise author of Proverbs explains it in this manner…


“Hope deferred makes the

heart sick, but a longing fulfilled

is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12


The following four types described below are listed in diagnostic order. They show the increasing negative impact of depression.


1.                 Normal Depression…It is sometimes called Situational Depression or Reactive Depression. It is an involuntary sadness based on a reaction to painful life situations. Normal problems of life press down the heart for a short period of time (for example, rejection, failure, illness). Transitional stages of life often press down the heart (for example, adolescence, empty next, midlife crises, major moves, menopause, retirement. [American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th ed., text revision (Washington, D.C: American Psychiatric Association, 2000), 679.]


When severe troubles fell upon God’s servant Job (the death of all his children, the destruction of all his possessions), one of his friends observed Job’s understandable depression.


“Now trouble comes to you,

and you are discouraged; it

strikes you, and you are

dismayed.” Job 4:5


2.                 Masked Depression…It is hidden depression (for example, repressed memories of physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional abuse). It is a state of enduring sadness based on unresolved, buried conflict. Painful feelings are denied or covered up; therefore, recovery takes longer because of failure to work through the pain. Relief from such emotional pain is unconsciously found in excessive busynes, activities, addictions, or other alternatives.

The Bible describes how hidden hurts still result in heartache…


Even in laughter the heart

may ache, and joy may end in

grief.” Proverbs 14:13


3.                 Neurotic Depression…This is a minor mental and emotional Depressive Disorder classified as Adjustment Disorder with Depressive Mood. [DSM-IV TR, 679.] This means that the depression results from failure to adjust to a distressing situation. A person with neurosis has a disorder, meaning that normal activities of daily living are impaired. A person with any Depressive Disorder has “clinical depression”–the need for diagnosis and treatment based on direct, ongoing observation. It is a prolonged state of sadness lasting longer than the normal time frame expected for emotional recovery–based on “stressors” (for example, loss of an endeared relationship, a financial or work crisis, retirement). Symptoms interfere with normal work and social functioning. The cause can usually be traced to an identifiable, precipitating event.


The Psalms reflect the pain of prolonged sorrow…


“How long must I wrestle with

my thoughts and every day have

sorrow in my heart? How long

will my enemy triumph over

me?” Psalm 13:2



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