Conviction of Sin or Depression

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by drfuss, Nov 18, 2010.

  1. drfuss

    drfuss
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    In anticipation of a discussion in Bible Study class this Sunday, I am looking for distinct differences between the feelings of conviction of sin for a sinner without Christ and the feelings of someone that is depressed. I think both produce bad fellings about the individual.

    Is there a difference?

    How can one tell the difference?

    Is the difference time dependent?
     
  2. Steven2006

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    Guilt? I would think that would be one example of a difference.
     
  3. drfuss

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    Thenk you for responding.

    Would feelings of guilt be the same as feelings of Holy spirit conviction?

    Can't feelings of depression be the same as feelings of guilt?

    As you can see, I have little understanding about the feelings of depression.
     
  4. Steven2006

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    I am not an expert on depression either :laugh: I don't recall ever hearing or reading about guilt being one of the warning signs that are often listed for depression, but you might want to google depression to be certain.
     
  5. billwald

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    Depression is a chemical imbalance.
     
  6. drfuss

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    I googled depression as you suggested and guilt is one of many signs of depression. I found the following under depression symptoms:

    "7. Feelings of worthlessness or guilt. A depressed person may feel that they have no value or they may feel inappropriately guilty about things they have no control over."

    My question is how does an unsaved person know that he is being convicted of his sinful condition or that he is just having feelings of depression?
     
  7. Tom Bryant

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    For me, conviction of sin is very specific. Depression tends to be about all of my life. Conviction moves me toward the Savior and His forgiveness. Depression moves me towards a pre-occupation with self.
     
  8. menageriekeeper

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    Control is the difference. People who are depressed feel guilty about things they have NO control over. Of course there is the gray area of someone who is addicted to something that they think they SHOULD be able to control. Depression can become mixed up with addiction. So you have a sin issue as well as a physical issue.

    My mother was this way. She was physically depressed but the medical options of the time only added insult to injury (these were the days before prozac), so she self medicated with pain killers and muscle relaxers to the point of addiction and along the way she did things that were clearly sin (yet has no remorse for most of the pain she caused others). She made no attempt for years to correct either issue and only corrected when she was forced to. (it was either find meds to control her symptoms or live in a mental institution, it got very bad)

    I personally have a milder form of depression that comes and goes usually without any warning. I just wake up one day and realize that I'm tired, have no energy, am in pain (not just from my arthritis), gotta bad mood going on (for no good reason) and I JUST WANNA BE LEFT ALONE! This is a total about-face of my usual personality. I only occasionally feel guilty and usually that is over the fact that I am not serving my family the way I usually do. (not that I don't sin mind you, just I don't usually feel guilty, I'm forgiven so guilt is a waste of time and repentance is more productive)

    What's the difference between the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the false guilt of depression? Reality. The Holy Spirit is never going to tell you that you are worthless. He's not going to tell you that you'll "never change". (which btw includes Him not being able to change you. Depression tells lies and this is one of the big ones is that there is NOTHING that can make you "better")

    The Holy Spirit will not convict you until you have reached the point that you can recognize your sin. He also won't expect you to do anything that is not in your power to do. The guilt that depression lays on you is one that says "pull yourself up by your bootstraps and get moving!", yet the physical reality is, your body does not have the energy to move. The chemical balance of the brain is off and you can want to move and be motivated to move, yet you can't. This is the most frustrating symptom I have. I can have the will to move, see clearly what needs doing or think "it sure would be fun too..." and yet not be able to muster the energy to stand up. Depression says "you know what is right" and then it turns around and knocks you out. The Holy Spirit will never do that.

    I hope this helps. I didn't comment on your question about time dependency because I'm not sure what you mean. If you'll clarify, I'll try to answer.
     
  9. jaigner

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    Depression is chemical. It can be brought on by negative thinking and circumstances sometimes, but it is primarily physical.

    My major depressive episode was due to a combination of family history (which is, unfortunately, undiagnosed) and being raised to believe I was invalidated, never good enough, and that I had to please everyone with good behavior. Guilt was something that I thought a good Christian should always feel. Also, I was brought up to be so judgmental that it began to affect me adversely.

    All of those factors, combined with a busy and unbalanced lifestyle, made me spiral very quickly. After eight long months, which is an eternity for a depressed person, what helped me the most was to rediscover a gospel of grace instead of the works gospel I was taught, and to actually visualize the transfer of my sin onto Christ.

    And pills were, for me, a lifesaver. I will likely be on them for the rest of my life.
     
  10. Jon-Marc

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    Depression is simply a matter of "My life sucks, and I feel sorry for myself." That is nothing like a person (saved or lost) who is convicted of sin.
     
  11. ReformedBaptist

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    Jon pretty much hit the nail on the head. Depression is typically the absence of truth, while conviction is the application of it. I don't buy the chemical imbalance argument.
     
  12. jaigner

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    That is completely, absolutely erroneous. Depression is not about feeling sorry for yourself. It is about losing hope, chronic fatigue and low mood, and loss of any capacity to feel joy. It is about pushing others away.
     
  13. jaigner

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    Really?!? So why is there often a hereditary (not just immediate family) component. Why do antidepressants work?

    People who are depressed are not just living without truth and they are NOT just feeling sorry for themselves. It is a disorder.
     
  14. drfuss

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    Thank you very much. I copied your response for my records.

    Concerning the time question, Conviction of sin is usually during a short time such as a sermon and/or a short time thereafter (within a few weeks). Is depression usually much longer? Or put another way, is long time bad feelings about yourself and your situation usually depression rather than conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit?
     
  15. drfuss

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    Good summary. Thank you.
     
  16. jaigner

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    There are different kinds of depression.

    A short period, which we might refer to as a "bad mood" is just a normal response to life. This is not depression.

    I have a type called dysthymia, where I basically live all the time with a low-grade depression. This makes me tired, irritable, down and affects me in other ways, too.

    More serious clinical depression usually is shorter periods (weeks to months) of severe depression. In this case, a person feels physically ill, with aches, pains, dull headache, etc. Eating and sleeping is often greatly affected. The person will push away everyone who is close to them, want to sleep all the time, feel hopeless and lose any feelings of pleasure. At its worst, people can become catatonic, basically unresponsive and suicidal.

    Cognitively, people are thinking they are hopeless, worthless and trapped. They will often feel bad about their life and situation, but it is often a clouded perspective brought on by depression.

    Depression IS chemical. The deciding component is your brain chemistry. Anyone who tells you otherwise has never been clinically depressed or has wholeheartedly bought into false things they have been taught, which often happens at church.

    So, if you tell a person with serious depression to "snap out of it" or to "trust Jesus more," they usually can't do it. It's not their willingness, it's their body.
     
  17. menageriekeeper

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    Here another trick, depression can look very different from person to person depending on their personality type.

    John-marc and RB are both wrong. My depression is not about "my life sucks", cause guess what, it doesn't. I have a fantastic life. Sure we have the normal problems: money being tight, two chronically ill kids and a third that may have a thyroid condition, one in college, a godson who's parents are in the middle of a nasty whiney divorce and I could go on. But those problems are "comman to man", not a big deal and NOT a precipitor for my depression.

    I can't even tell you what triggers depression in my life. Certainly other people can, like Jaigner above, but I can't. Depression happens. The only thing I know for sure will cause it is pregnancy. The PPD I get after pregnancy is horrendous. "Just leave me and the baby alone!" See, the mother thing has me, but I can't get beyond me and the baby. And I'll sit for weeks baby in lap, doing nothing in the house and getting angry when someone asks me for something. That's not me. I'm the person who gets up at 5 am takes care of 4 dogs, 3 cats, loads the washer and the dishwasher all while the coffee perks! I'm not a sitter! But let the depression sneak up on me and it all changes.

    I'll come back and answer this later this evening. Right now I have to do the rounds of kid pickup cause my kids are having friends over this weekend. I'm gonna end up with 6 or 7 kids in my house!
     
  18. jaigner

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    Well said, friend. Depression is not about feeling sorry for myself. It's like a weight, a black dog always chasing, and is utterly hopeless and painful.

    If you've ever suffered from depression, you know how erroneous it is to think that it was simply "feeling down" or having a bad attitude.
     
  19. menageriekeeper

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    A sermon might make me think: I should search the scriptures and see if the preacher is applying correctly what he read onto facebook. I call that conviction. In essence, conviction is something that makes me look at my life in the light of scripture, whether it be the Sunday sermon, or the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit.

    Depression on the other hand, doens't invoke scripture, doesn't make me think in terms of scripture and most times what I feel guilty about isn't something warned about in scripture or contradictorily is something one sees as sin in someone else's life, but refuses to recognize in one's own life.

    One thing that I "normally" feel guilty about while depressed that I am matter of fact about any other time is clothing. We have certain $$ set aside for buying clothes. I am an excellent seamstress and can make, remake, repair or redecorate anything made from fabric. It's a God given talent. My children aren't dressed in "designer' clothes, but neither are they shabby. But let me get depressed and OH MY, nothing is good enough. And I feel guilty because I can't spend hundreds buying them brand new wardrobes, that I WOULDN'T buy if I weren't depressed. See, depression is often illogical.

    I have another "normal" thing and it has to do with food. One of my first signs that I am dipping has to do with how I feel when I go grocery shopping. Not depressed: I make a menu, make a grocery list and we cooked for a month on what I buy. Its economical. Depressed: I havne't the energy to make a list much less cook (which isn't my fav thing to do anyhow) and then we end up with not much real food and we spend more $$ on eating out or convenience food. What's contradictory about that? I will believe that my children are being deprived by not eating out. It's not the truth, my kids will only eat out so many time before they start complaining that they want "real" food. But what my mind believes is different.

    Now, my mother's first sign that she is dipping is when she starts talking drug use in the neighborhood. Notice, she is addicted to drugs herself, but she condemns their use by the neighbors! The difference according to her is that she has a perscription and they don't. ooooooKay.(btw, the neighbors aren't really dealing/using drugs, this is something she imagines when she becomes depressed) Now I should warn you that my mother's official diagnosis is: depression with paranoid schizophrenic tendencies. So she is dealing with more than just the depression, but the schizophrenia didn't manifest in her until she'd spent years selfmedicating the depression and wasn't a continuous thing until her 60's. (by continuous I mean she used to have episodes of paranoid off the wall behavior, that once treated disappeared for months or years without medication, until she spiraled again. However, since her early 60's she's had to take antiphsycotics continuously along with the treatment for the depression)

    The difference between my mother and my depression is this: I have episodic depression. After my last two babies I had to be treated for a couple of years (each time) before the depression subsided. Since then (my youngest is 12), I've had a couple of other episodes that needed medication and both of those times I was able to wean off the meds after about 18 months or so. Right now, its been about 6 years since I've had an episode, though right at this time it is on my schedule to talk to my doc about starting the meds again because I am not handling my arthritis pain as well as usual and my family tells me I am in a 'bad mood' all the time, even when *I* don't think I am in one (I get angry a lot when I'm depressed). My husband and children know my history and are often better at seeing problems early than I am, so I take them seriously.

    My mother's depression, on the other hand, never goes aways. I can't remember a time from when I was VERY young, that she wasn't depressed. It was better when we lived "up north", because she had a support system up there of friends and family that understood her and we socialized with quite often. But when we moved to Alabama, even though she had family here, they were the family she'd gone up north to get away from! It was here that she got hooked on perscription meds.

    Support systems are another subject that is very important. Depressed people often isolate themselves because they think that "no one will understand" or "if I tell X what is going on they'll laugh at me, or tell me I'm crazy or condemn me or......" People who are prone to depression NEED family and friends that they can trust to listen while they cry, to not condemn but expect that the depressed person will seek treatment and to hold them accountable once treatment has been prescribed in actually following the doctor's instructions. Not only will my husband and kids ask me if I've had my meds (when I'm on them), but I have good friends who'll do the same thing! (of course the depressed person has to accept the support or all for naught)

    HTH
     
  20. jaigner

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    Again, very good description, which should make it apparent to those who still support erroneous positions on depression that it is much deeper than just a bad attitude.
     

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