As we at the Summit go through our “Smoke from a Fire” series, exploring the ways our emotions reveal our inner struggles, we want to share follow-up resources from our Pastor of Counseling, Brad Hambrick. This week’s resources focus on the topic of depression. Here’s Brad:

Question 1: How can I know if my depression is primarily caused by a malfunction in my body-brain or wrongs I’m committing in my beliefs-behaviors?


Another way to ask this question would be, “Is my depression something I am doing or something that is happening to me?” There is no universal answer to this question. That is like asking, “How much do lifestyle choices contribute to the cause of diabetes?” For some people a great deal, for others very little.


The two leading treatments for depression tell a conflicting story: cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychotropic medications. The effectiveness of CBT indicates that beliefs and behaviors play a large role in depression. The effectiveness of medication indicates that body malfunctions, particularly in the brain or glandular systems, also play a large role.


The reality is that depression is always both: (1) beliefs-behaviors and (2) body-brain. We are embodied souls. Every emotion we feel registers neuro-chemically in our brain; this is true of pleasant emotions (i.e., joy, excitement, and peace) and unpleasant emotions (i.e., depression, anger, and anxiety). Every change in our brain affects our thoughts and actions. Consider how you think-move in the morning before coffee.


There is a long list of things that can cause depression (i.e., a persistent down mood and/or the inability to enjoy normal pleasures): a significant loss, failure, lack of purpose, unrealistic expectations, temperament, glandular malfunctions, chemical imbalances, certain diseases, response to some medications, change in seasons, fatigue, isolation, sin or idolatry, unbelief, foolishness, legalism… (the list could continue).


The follow up question would be, “How can I tell if my experience of depression is rooted primarily in my beliefs-behaviors or my body-brain?” Here is a process to help you with this discernment – 6 Steps to Wise Decision Making on Psychotropic Medications.

Read the rest here.