Spiritual depression

Bryant Golden Blog

Many of us have experienced times of struggling with our faith. If you feel like you’re struggling to find joy in your faith or you’re unhappy in it, you may be experiencing what’s called spiritual depression. The good news lies in the fact that there are ways to cope with it, as well as overcome it. Here’s an overview of what spiritual depression is and how to defeat it. 

What is spiritual depression?

Spiritual depression is defined as a loss of spiritual vitality and joy. This includes struggles such as feeling lost, discouraged or unhappy in your faith. Spiritual depression is different from clinical depression — there is no specific requirement for meeting a “diagnosis” of spiritual depression.

What are some signs of spiritual depression?

  • Struggling to find joy in your faith or worship.
  • Having a long list of questions and doubts about salvation, even if you’ve already accepted Christ. You may also have questions or doubts about what heaven is like, or if it even exists.
  • Feeling anxious or uncomfortable at church or when talking about Christianity with others. 
  • Spending time reading the Bible but not feeling like you’re “connected” to it. You may also feel like you’re not gaining anything from your time with it.

What are some causes of spiritual depression?

  • Financial struggles.
  • Family or relationship struggles.
  • Work or school struggles. 
  • Physical health struggles.
  • Mental health struggles. 

What does the Bible say about spiritual depression? 

  • The Bible does not promise that we will not have struggles in life. Our life does not magically become perfect when we choose to follow Jesus. In fact, the Bible is clear that even after we choose to follow Jesus, we will still have trials and tribulations. Here are a few things that the Bible says about struggles in life:
  • I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 ESV).
      • “If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful” (2 Timothy 2:11-13). 
      • “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:21).
  • We can bring our feelings and questions to God in prayer. We don’t have to go through spiritual depression alone. Through prayer, it can actually help to bring us closer to Him. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind” (James 1:5-6 ESV). 
  • Even those in the Bible dealt with questions and doubts about Christ. Over a third of the Psalms are laments (bringing questions, doubts or struggles to God). David, the author of many of the Psalms, asked 51 questions to God throughout Psalms. We’re not alone in our questions or doubts; even those in the Bible had them as well. Here are some questions that David asks throughout his Psalms:
    • “What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:4 ESV).
    • “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” (Psalm 13:1 ESV). 
    • “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?” (Psalm 22:1 ESV). 

How can you overcome spiritual depression?

  • Talk to others who have experienced spiritual depression as well. Having a strong support system is essential to overcoming spiritual depression. Surround yourself with those who can walk with you in your journey — it may help you feel less alone. 
  • Spend time in the Bible, even if it feels hard. Spend time intentionally reading your Bible as often as you can, focusing on messages of our hope in Christ. 
  • Seek mental health counseling or pastoral counseling. Seeking professional help doesn’t make you weak. Mental health or pastoral counseling has a great list of benefits, including feeling less alone and learning more about how to cope with struggles in life.