A Christian Guide to Body Stewardship, Diet and Exercise

Chapter 4: Stress Management and Sleep 83 Depression is a mental illness characterized by a state of extreme sadness and/or low spirits. Depression is not a character flaw or a sign of weakness. Researchers believe that depression results from a combination of physiological, psychological and social factors such as genetics, chemical imbalance, stress, inadequate social support, and/or negative and/or irrational thoughts. Some of the more common symptoms of depression, assuming they persist for two weeks or more, include (American Psychiatric Association, 2000): • Feeling sad or depressed • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed • Trouble concentrating, remembering and/or making decisions • Persistent fatigue • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/or hopelessness • Inability to sleep or sleeping too much • Irritability • Restlessness • Binge eating or loss of appetite • Headaches • Digestive problems • Suicidal thoughts and/or attempts If you are severely depressed, or know someone who is, getting help from a mental health professional is essential. Fortunately, treatment for depression can be highly effective (Fahey et al., 2011). Unrelenting suffering, personal failure, and/or failed dreams often lead to anxiety, depression, and/or suicide (Powlison, 2010). However, Scripture provides us with hope (Psalm 31, Psalm 32, Psalm 33:1819, Romans 8:15-35). It is important to remember that our lives matter to God, that he cares for us, and that we can bring our hopelessness to him (Psalm 86:7; 1 Peter 1:3-5).