“Be angry, but sin not.”
First of all, I am not a licensed counselor. However, I come from a family with both bipolar and clinical depression, so I would be glad to share with you what I have learned and experienced.
Almost all depression is a result of unresolved anger. Now, I would never have thought of myself as an angry person. Rather, I would turn it inwards and was easily hurt. Hurt and anger are the two sides of the same coin. My depression was a combination of learned behavior and unresolved anger. My mother responded to life with depression. Therefore, I learned that that was the way to deal with life. Even after becoming a Christian at age 13, I was not discipled to understand that I had a choice!
Choice is the key word here. Depression is one of Satan’s weapons. We are to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. We do this by taking thought of self abuse, anger, etc… and praying over it and holding it up to the truth of God’s word. It can be a real battle sometimes! I still will have days where the thoughts from Satan are coming thick and fast. I have to choose to stand against them, arm myself with God’s truth, and choose to sing praises even if I don’t “feel” like it. The emotions eventually line up. Sometimes, I can’t fight it alone and I need to go to a trusted friend and get their listening ear and prayers.
Unresolved anger is dealt with by talking it out with someone safe. For me that was a licensed Christian counselor. The difference between a psychiatrist and a Christian counselor is very important. A very astute 18 year old told me that when she went to the psychiatrist and talked things out, it was like digging big holes, but having nothing to fill them up with. She filled them up with drugs and alcohol. When she saw a Christian counselor, they had the answers through God’s word to fill in the holes with truth. Talking out our stuffed down emotions with someone who can deflect them is really important because it normalizes the emotions. I thought my emotions were wrong. My counselor often reacted even more severely to the situation than I did and I learned that emotions were okay.
I asked a medical doctor who was a Christian about bipolar or manic-depression once. He said that he learned through his research that it is 95% spiritual. That a vast majority of people have the physiological bent towards bipolar behavior, but only a small amount show symptoms. I am not one to see a demon behind every bush, but I would definitely get with a Christian counselor to deal with bipolar depression.
My counselor did prescribe an anti-depressant for me while I was in counseling, but I was not able to take it – they really bother my stomach. But I was also dealing with depression from childhood abuse, sexual abuse, and self-loathing. I got through the counseling without medication, but did take some homeopathic remedies and exercised and watched my diet while in counseling. From what I understand, a trauma can change the actual formation of brain patterns. The anti-depressants allow the brain to retrain to better patterns. I think that medications is really up to the person and their counselor.
As I emptied the emotional bucket that I had stuffed since childhood, I also learned boundaries on harmful relationships and coping skills. I was in counseling for 18 months. Now if I get depressed, I call a friend, praise and pray, talk to my husband, etc… I have ongoing physical disabilities so usually the depression is about dealing with chronic and severe pain. I was finally able to allow Christ Jesus to be Lord over my future and that has brought a lot of peace, although He has to remind me sometimes! It is a process, and that’s okay!