Thursday, 7 April 2011


On 5 Live this morning they are talking about depression and how there seems to be an increase in the prescription of anti-depressants by doctors for people in the UK. Go here to listen.

They have called the phone in 'Unhappiness or depression?'

Interesting title.

I wonder if unhappiness should not even be linked with depression in this way. Depression is something far deeper and darker than unhappiness. And maybe that is where the problem lies and the lines have been blurred.

People often assume happiness is the goal of humanity. You often here the phrase 'I don't mind what they do as long as they are happy.' And so we measure everything by happiness and how happy a society is. And I think happiness is important. Jesus speaks about being 'blessed' in Matthew 5; the word blessed can literally be translated in the Greek as 'happy'.

In western culture we often associate happiness with money, sex and power. 'When I win the lottery...', 'Did you pull last night...', 'If I was famous...'

Yet we see throughout history, in our own experiences and in the lives of others today that the pursuit of these things never actually brings real happiness. They become our 'god', but this god can never make us more human, but actually de-humanises us. And so we are unhappy.

The blessed or 'happy' ones according to Jesus are the meek, sorrowful, poor, hungry, merciful, peacemakers, pure in heart and persecuted.

So I think unhappiness and depression are two very different things.

Depression is an illness. Depression is so very tough. Depression is something that people must not fear talking about and getting help with.
I know people who suffer with depression and it is not anything to do with unhappiness in the way western culture often defines it. Depression is darkness.

The Bible is filled with stories and verses that deal with this kind of thing. The Psalms are filled with lament. Isaiah 53, understood to be about Jesus, speaks of him as being 'a man of sorrows'.

It is good to know that there is help, support, advise and treatment for people who are suffering from depression. My hope is that those who are suffering may, each day, have a glimmer of light that will eventually burn brightly and banish the darkness.


Tom Haward said...

I do wonder if medication is given out all too easily. I'm sure some people are simply unhappy, but prescribed pills anyway. You're right, depression is a darkness and something much more complex than being sad.

I do wonder if depression is part of what makes me 'Tom'. Would I no longer be me if I didn't have depression?

Joe Haward said...

Not sure mate. It is certainly a part of your life story and journey. And it that way, right this moment in time it is a part of what makes you, you. The cross was fully a part of God's identity on that Friday. But then resurrection morning came, yet the scars still showed, but the darkness had gone...

Tom Haward said...

Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.
Khalil Gibran