Question: I have persistent depression and a certain inner tension, I have asked God to forgive my sins, but it seems to me that He does not want to hear me, because neither the depression nor the inner tension is going away.
The answer of Archpriest Andrei Efanov: The Lord hears everyone! But as for your mental health, it is primarily your responsibility. The Lord can respond to your actions, but he cannot do anything without your free will. There needs to be a mutual action so as not to limit human freedom and the chance for a person to act themselves. If we are talking about depression, then this is a psychological and medical issue. And you need to contact a specialist – psychologist or psychiatrist, so that he clearly can diagnose your condition. That should be your first step.
If you are diagnosed with depression by a medical specialist, then be sure to seek appropriate medical treatment, carefully follow the advice of the doctor and discuss with him why certain things are happening the way they are. Stress and the constant tense feeling can also be caused by the the sins which you may have kept inside and accumulated overtime(and this may also be the cause of clinical depression). To heal yourself spiritually, continue to go to a priest and confess to cleanse your soul and conscience. If, as you say it still doesn’t help, speak to a priest beyond just a confession. Set some time aside and discuss your issues with a priest on a more in depth level to see if you can root out the real problem. Be sure to confess as soon as you identify that you have sinned. Do not try to do everything at once but rather gradually and slowly step by step, and God will give you the strength to overcome these challenges.
May The Lord help and strengthen you!
Translated by The Catalog of Good Deeds
Thank you for your compassionate response to this issue. Many clergy & many Christians, Orthodox & others, condemn those with depression. They maintain that you lack faith & trust in God, that you are lacking in your spiritual maturity. The solution is not simple. Doctors, clergy, The Lord, and the will of the depressed person work together.
My daughter suffers from clinical depresssion, and has since her adolesence. To claim, it is about her being “sinful” is a totally insensitive and inappropriate thing to say! It’s like blaming the victim when it is not their fault. Such a depression is very much tied into the chemistry of the brain. Maybe you should learn more about what causes such an imbalance. The last thing a depressed person needs is to be blamed for what can’t be helped!!!
MomofDD – It can be helped, and this is what the Archpriest is saying. Depression can be caused by unwise life habits, such as a bad diet, unemployment/boredom, wrong sleeping patterns, lack of exercise, alcohol, drugs, and a whole array of physical illnesses. A medical specialist should be able to identify such things, and suggest how to remedy them.
Depression can also be caused by dark secrets in the soul, and a priest should be able to help identify if any of these things are sins that were committed, in which case there is no better “treatment” than confession and absolution. It may turn out that these are not sins but profound regrets or traumas, for which the teachings of the Church will always be relevant, comforting and healing.