Mind, Character and Personality/Depression
[See appendix A and appendix B.]
Many Diseases Result From Mental Depression—A contented mind, a cheerful spirit, is health to the body and strength to the soul. Nothing is so fruitful a cause of disease as depression, gloominess, and sadness.—Testimonies for the Church 1:702 (1868).
Many of the diseases from which men suffer are the result of mental depression.—The Ministry of Healing, 241 (1905).
Removing Depression Hastens Recovery—Because God’s love is so great and so unfailing, the sick should be encouraged to trust in Him and be cheerful. To be anxious about themselves tends to cause weakness and disease. If they will rise above depression and gloom, their prospect of recovery will be better; for “the eye of the Lord is upon them ... that hope in His mercy” (Psalm 33:18).—The Ministry of Healing, 229 (1905).
Depression Produced by Iron Dignity—Some preserve a cold, chilling reserve, an iron dignity, that repels those who are brought within their influence. This spirit (p.483) is contagious; it creates an atmosphere that is withering to good impulses and good resolves; it chokes the natural current of human sympathy, cordiality, and love; and under its influence people become constrained, and their social and generous attributes are destroyed for want of exercise.
Not only is the spiritual health affected but the physical health suffers by this unnatural depression. The gloom and chill of this unsocial atmosphere is reflected upon the countenance. The faces of those who are benevolent and sympathetic will shine with the luster of true goodness, while those who do not cherish kindly thoughts and unselfish motives express in their faces the sentiments cherished in their hearts.—Testimonies for the Church 4:64 (1876).
Mental Depression From Poorly Ventilated Rooms—The effects produced by living in close, ill-ventilated rooms are these: The system becomes weak and unhealthy, the circulation is depressed, the blood moves sluggishly through the system because it is not purified and vitalized by the pure, invigorating air of heaven. The mind becomes depressed and gloomy, while the whole system is enervated, and fevers and other acute diseases are liable to be generated.—Testimonies for the Church 1:702, 803 (1868).
Depression and Gloom Result of Insufficient Oxygen—The lungs should be allowed the greatest freedom possible. Their capacity is developed by free action; it diminishes if they are cramped and compressed. Hence the ill effects of the practice so common, especially in sedentary pursuits, of stooping at one’s work. In this position it is impossible to breathe deeply. Superficial breathing soon becomes a habit, and the lungs lose their power to expand
Thus an insufficient supply of oxygen is received. The blood moves sluggishly. The waste, poisonous matter, which should be thrown off in the exhalations from the lungs, is retained, and the blood becomes impure. Not (p.484) only the lungs, but the stomach, liver, and brain are affected. The skin becomes sallow, digestion is retarded; the heart is depressed; the brain is clouded; the thoughts are confused; gloom settles upon the spirits; the whole system becomes depressed and inactive, and peculiarly susceptible to disease.—The Ministry of Healing, 272, 273 (1905).
Good Respiration Soothes the Nerves—In order to have good blood, we must breathe well. Full, deep inspirations of pure air, which fill the lungs with oxygen, purify the blood. They impart to it a bright color and send it, a life-giving current, to every part of the body. A good respiration soothes the nerves; it stimulates the appetite and renders digestion more perfect; and it induces sound, refreshing sleep.—The Ministry of Healing, 272 (1905).
Dropsy and Disease of Heart Tend to Depress Ellen G. White [See Selected Messages 2:233-245, “Fortitude and Affliction.”]—Disease has pressed heavily upon me. For years I have been afflicted with dropsy and disease of the heart, which has had a tendency to depress my spirits and destroy my faith and courage.—Testimonies for the Church 1:185 (1859).
Borrowed Power Results in Depression—Through the intemperance begun at home, the digestive organs first become weakened, and soon ordinary food does not satisfy the appetite. Unhealthy conditions are established, and there is a craving for more stimulating food. Tea and coffee produce an immediate effect. Under the influence of these poisons the nervous system is excited; and in some cases, for the time being, the intellect seems to be invigorated, the imagination more vivid. Because these stimulants produce such agreeable results, many conclude that they really need them; but there is always a reaction. (p.485) The nervous system has borrowed power from its future resources for present use, and all this temporary invigoration is followed by a corresponding depression. The suddenness of the relief obtained from tea and coffee is an evidence that what seems to be strength is only nervous excitement, and consequently must be an injury to the system.—Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, 31, 1890. (Child Guidance, 403.)
Stern Coldness in Marriage a Cause of Depression—When you married your wife, she loved you. She was extremely sensitive, yet with painstaking on your part, and fortitude on hers, her health need not have been what it is. But your stern coldness made you like an iceberg, freezing up the channel of love and affection. Your censure and faultfinding has been like desolating hail to a sensitive plant. It has chilled and nearly destroyed the life of the plant. Your love of the world is eating out the good traits of your character.
Your wife is of a different turn and more generous. But when she has, even in small matters, exercised her generous instincts, you have felt a drawback in your feelings and have censured her. You indulge a close and grudging spirit. You make your wife feel that she is a tax, a burden, and that she has no right to exercise her generosity at your expense. All these things are of such a discouraging nature that she feels hopeless and helpless and has not stamina to bear up against it, but bends to the force of the blast. Her disease is pain of the nerves. Were her married life agreeable, she would possess a good degree of health. But all through your married life the demon has been a guest in your family to exult over your misery.—Testimonies for the Church 1:696 (1868).
Depression Sometimes Result of Sexual Excess—Very many families are living in a most unhappy state because the husband and father allows the animal in his nature to predominate over the intellectual and moral. The result is that a sense of languor and depression is (p.486) frequently felt, but the cause is seldom divined as being the result of their own improper course of action. We are under solemn obligations to God to keep the spirit pure and the body healthy, that we may be a benefit to humanity, and render to God perfect service.
The apostle utters these words of warning: “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof” (Romans 6:12). He urges us onward by telling us that “every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things” (1 Corinthians 9:25). He exhorts all who call themselves Christians to presents their bodies “a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God” (Romans 12:1). He says, “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Corinthians 9:27).—Testimonies for the Church 2:381 (1870).
Temporary Depression May Follow Success—A reaction such as frequently follows high faith and glorious success was pressing upon Elijah. He feared that the reformation begun on Carmel might not be lasting, and depression seized him. He had been exalted to Pisgah’s top; now he was in the valley. While under the inspiration of the Almighty, he had stood the severest trial of faith; but in this time of discouragement, with Jezebel’s threat sounding in his ears and Satan still apparently prevailing through the plotting of this wicked woman, he lost his hold on God. He had been exalted above measure, and the reaction was tremendous.—Prophets and Kings, 161, 162 (1917).
Controlling a Depressed Mind—The mother can and should do much toward controlling her nerves and mind when depressed; even when she is sick, she can, if she only schools herself, be pleasant and cheerful and can bear more noise than she would once have thought possible. She should not make the children feel her infirmities and cloud their young sensitive minds by her (p.487) depression of spirits, causing them to feel that the house is a tomb and the mother’s room the most dismal place in the world. The mind and nerves gain tone and strength by the exercise of the will. The power of the will in many cases will prove a potent soother of the nerves.—Testimonies for the Church 1:387 (1863).
Two Extremes in Behavior—Those who do not feel that it is a religious duty to discipline the mind to dwell upon cheerful subjects will usually be found at one of two extremes: they will be elated by a continual round of exciting amusements, indulging in frivolous conversation, laughing, and joking; or they will be depressed, having great trials and mental conflicts, which they think but few have ever experienced or can understand. These persons may profess Christianity, but they deceive their own souls.—The Signs of the Times, October 23, 1884. (Counsels on Health, 628, 629.)
The Cheering or Discouraging Power of the Printed Page—My husband has labored untiringly to bring the publishing interest up to its present state of prosperity. I saw that he had had more sympathy and love from his brethren than he has thought he had. They eagerly search the paper to find something from his pen. If there is a tone of cheerfulness in his writings, if he speaks encouragingly, their hearts are lightened, and some even weep with tender feelings of joy. But if gloom and sadness are expressed, the countenances of his brethren and sisters, as they read, grow sad, and the spirit which characterizes his writings is reflected upon them.—Testimonies for the Church 3:96, 97 (1872).
A Discouraged Man is a Burden to Himself (counsel to medical students)—I have had presented before me the fact that in your class of medical missionary students are those whose first work should be understand themselves, to count the cost, and know when they begin to build whether they are able to finish. Let not God be (p.488) dishonored by breaking down the man in the process of educating him; for a broken-down, discouraged man is a burden to himself.
To think that in any work that he may plan to do God will sustain him, while he piles upon himself studies, and subjects himself to exposures that imperil health and life and violate the laws of nature, is contrary to the light that God has given. Nature will not be imposed upon. She will not forgive the injuries done to the wonderful, delicate machinery.—Letter 116, 1898. (Medical Ministry, 79). Hopelessness Concealed Under a Facade of Bravado—A child frequently censured for some special fault, comes to regard that fault as his peculiarity, something against which it is vain to strive. Thus are created discouragement and hopelessness, often concealed under an appearance of indifference or bravado.—Education, 291 (1903).
Overcoming Costs Efforts (counsels to a family)—You can be a happy family if you will do what God has given you to do and has enjoined upon you as a duty. But the Lord will not do for you that which He has left for you to do. Brother C deserves pity. He has so long felt unhappy that life has become a burden to him. It need not be thus. His imagination is diseased, and he has so long kept his eyes on the dark picture that if he meets with adversity or disappointment, he imagines that everything is going to ruin, that he will come to want, that everything is against him, that he has the hardest time of anyone; and thus his life is made wretched. The more he thinks thus, the more miserable he makes his life and the lives of all around him.
He has no reason to feel as he does; it is all the work of Satan. He must not suffer the enemy thus to control his mind. He should turn away from the dark and gloomy picture to that of the loving Saviour, the glory of heaven, and the rich inheritance prepared for all who are humble and obedient and who possess grateful hearts and abiding (p.489) faith in the promises of God. This will cost him an effort, a struggle; but it must be done. Your present happiness and your future, eternal happiness depend upon your fixing your mind upon cheerful things, looking away from the dark picture, which is imaginary, to the benefits which God has strewn in your pathway, and beyond these, to the unseen and eternal.—Testimonies for the Church 1:703, 704 (1868).
The Fruits of Gloomy Forebodings—Your life is now miserable, full of evil forebodings. Gloomy pictures loom up before you; dark unbelief has enclosed you. By talking on the side of unbelief you have grown darker and darker; you take satisfaction in dwelling upon unpleasant themes. If others try to talk hopefully, you crush out in them every hopeful feeling by talking all the more earnestly and severely. Your trials and afflictions are ever keeping before your wife the soul-harrowing thought that you consider her a burden because of her illness. If you love darkness and despair, talk of them, dwell upon them, and harrow up your soul by conjuring up in your imagination everything you can to cause you to murmur against your family and against God, and make your own heart like a field which the fire has passed over, destroying all verdure and leaving it dry, blackened, and crisped.—Testimonies for the Church 1:699 (1868).
Overcoming Emotional Instability—You belong to a family who possess minds not well balanced, gloomy and depressed, affected by surroundings, and susceptible to influences. Unless you cultivate a cheerful, happy, grateful frame of mind, Satan will eventually lead you captive at his will. You can be a help, a strength to the church where you reside, if you will obey the instructions of the Lord and not move by feeling, but be controlled by principle. Never allow censure to escape your lips, for it is like desolating hail to those around you. Let cheerful, happy, loving words fall from your lips.—Testimonies for the Church 1:704 (1868). (p.490) No Need to be a Slave to Depression—Remember that in your life religion is not to be merely one influence among others. It is to be an influence dominating all others. Be strictly temperate. Resist every temptation. Make no concessions to the wily foe. Listen not to the suggestions that he puts into the mouths of men and women. You have a victory to win. You have nobility of character to gain; but this you cannot gain while you are depressed and discouraged by failure. Break the bands with which Satan has bound you. There is no need for you to be his slave. “Ye are My friends,” Christ said, “if ye do whatsoever I command you.”—Letter 228, 1903. (Medical Ministry, 490).
One Remedy Suggested to a Minister Suffering Depression—You should labor with care and observe periods of rest. By so doing you will retain your physical and mental vigor and render your labor much more efficient. Brother F, you are a nervous man and move much from impulse. Mental depression influences your labor very much. At times you feel a want of freedom and think it is because others are in darkness or wrong or that something is the matter, you can hardly tell what, and you make a drive somewhere and upon somebody which is liable to do great harm. If you would quiet yourself when in this restless, nervous condition and rest and calmly wait on God and inquire if the trouble is not in yourself, you would save wounding your own soul and wounding the precious cause of God.—Testimonies for the Church 1:622 (1867).
Dwelling Upon the Disagreeable—When you see iniquity all around you it makes you all the more glad that He is your Saviour, and we are His children. Then shall we look at the iniquity around us and dwell upon the dark side? You cannot cure it; then talk of something that is higher, better, and more noble
Now we may go into a cellar and stay there and look around into its dark corners, and we can talk of the darkness and say, “Oh, it is so dark here,” and keep talking (p.491) about it. But will it make it any lighter? Oh no! What are you going to do? Come out of it; come out of the dark into the upper chamber where the light of God’s countenance shines brightly.
You know our bodies are made up of the food assimilated. Now, it is the same with our minds. If we have a mind to dwell on the disagreeable things of life, we will not have any hope, but we want to dwell on the cheery scenes of heaven. Says Paul, “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17).—MS 7, 1888.
Christ Sympathizes (encouragement to a Christian suffering depression)—My dear aged sister _____, I am much grieved because you are sick and suffering. But cling to Him whom you have loved and served these many years. He gave His own life for the world, and He loves everyone who trusts in Him. He sympathizes with those who suffer under the depression of disease. He feels every pang of anguish that His loved ones feel. Just rest in His arms and know that He is your Saviour, and your very best Friend, and that He will never leave nor forsake you. He has been your dependence for many years, and your soul may rest in hope.
You will come forth with other faithful ones who have believed in Him, to praise Him with a voice of triumph. All you are expected to do is to rest in His love. Do not worry. Jesus loves you, and now when you are weak and suffering, He holds you in His arms, just as a loving father holds a little child. Trust in Him in whom you have believed. Has He not loved and cared for you all through your lifetime? Just rest in the precious promises given you.—Lt 299, 1904.
Not to Give Way to Depression—In the night season I was conversing with you. I was saying to you, I am much pleased because you are in such a good location and can (p.492) be near to the Sanitarium. Do not give way to depression, but let the comforting influence of the Holy Spirit be welcomed into your heart, to give you comfort and peace....
My sister, if you would obtain precious victories, face the light that emanates from the Sun of righteousness. Talk hope and faith and thanksgiving to God. Be cheerful, hopeful in Christ. Educate yourself to praise Him. This is a great remedy for diseases of the soul and of the body.—Lt 322, 1906.
Atmosphere of Depression—Let the ministers through whom God is working come up to the conference with cast-down nerve, growing in depression, and I tell you, they have an atmosphere about them like a thick blanket of fog covering a clear sky. We need to cherish faith. Let the lips utter, “My soul magnifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.”
We must reveal a sense of a present Saviour, a firm trust that Jesus is at the helm, and that He will see the noble vessel safe into harbor. We are to know that it is impossible to save ourselves or any soul. We have no power to bestow salvation upon the perishing. Jesus, our Redeemer, is the Saviour. We are only His instrumentalities and dependent every moment upon God. We are to magnify His power before His chosen people and before the world for the great salvation which through His atoning sacrifice and His blood He has conferred upon us.—Lt 19a, 1892.
I Will Not Be Depressed—I am sometimes greatly perplexed to know what to do, but I will not be depressed. I am determined to bring all the sunshine into my life that I possibly can.—Lt 127, 1903.
I have much to make me sad at heart, but I try not to speak discouragingly, because someone who hears my words may be sad at heart, and I must not do anything to increase his sadness.—Lt 208, 1903. (p.493)
By Faith Reach Through the Darkness—If I should look at the dark clouds—the troubles and perplexities that come to me in my work—I should have time to do nothing else. But I know that there is light and glory beyond the clouds. By faith I reach through the darkness to the glory. At times I am called to pass through financial perplexities. But I do not worry about money. God takes care of my affairs. I do all that I can, and when the Lord sees that it is best for me to have money, He sends it to me.—MS 102, 1901.
Faith a Necessity—When I was visiting the Paradise Valley Sanitarium about three years ago, I spoke nearly every morning at five o’clock to the workers, and at a later hour to the patients. There was among the patients one man who seemed always to be depressed. I learned that he believed the theory of the Bible doctrines but could not exercise the faith he needed to appropriate to himself the promises of God.
Morning after morning I spoke to the patients about faith and urged them to believe the words of God. Yet this poor man seemed unable to admit that he had faith. I talked with him alone. I presented the truth to him in every way possible, then I asked him if he could not believe that Christ was his individual Saviour and would help him. Our Saviour has said to all who are weary and heavy laden, “Take My yoke upon you.” Do not wear a yoke of your own framing. “Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matthew 11:28, 29).
Finally the time came when I must leave. I said to him, “Now, my friend, can you tell me that you have learned to trust that Saviour who has taken so much pains to meet the situation of every soul? Can you and will you trust in Him? Can you tell me, before I leave, that you have received faith to believe God?”
He looked up and said, “Yes, I believe. I have faith.”
“Thank the Lord,” I replied. I felt that although there (p.494) were others who had been present and had listened to my talks in the parlor, I had in this case been amply rewarded for all my efforts.—MS 41, 1908.
Playing Into Satan’s Hands—Don’t go to others with your trials and temptations; God alone can help you. If you fulfill the conditions of God’s promises, the promises will be fulfilled to you. If your mind is stayed upon God, you will not go from a state of ecstasy to the valley of despondency when trial and temptation come upon you. You will not talk doubt and gloom to others. You will not say, “I do not know about this or that. I do not feel happy. I am not sure that we have the truth.” You will not do this, for you will have an anchor to the soul both sure and steadfast.
When we talk discouragement and gloom, Satan listens with fiendish joy; for it pleases him to know that he has brought you into his bondage. Satan cannot read our thoughts, but he can see our actions, hear our words; and from his long knowledge of the human family, he can shape his temptations to take advantage of our weak points of character. And how often do we let him into the secret of how he may obtain the victory over us. Oh, that we might control our words and actions! How strong we would become if our words were of such an order that we would not be ashamed to meet the record of them in the day of judgment. How different will they appear in the day of God from what they seem when we utter them.—The Review and Herald, February 27, 1913.
Jesus Understands Feelings of Despair—Faith and hope trembled in the expiring agonies of Christ because God had removed the assurance He had heretofore given His beloved Son of His approbation and acceptance. The Redeemer of the world then relied upon the evidences which had hitherto strengthened Him, that His Father accepted His labors and was pleased with His work. In His dying agony, as He yields up His precious life, He has by faith alone to trust in Him whom it has ever been His joy (p.495) to obey. He is not cheered with clear, bright rays of hope on the right hand or on the left. All is enshrouded in oppressive gloom. Amid the awful darkness which is felt by sympathizing nature, the Redeemer drains the mysterious cup even to its dregs. Denied even bright hope and confidence in the triumph which will be His in the future, He cries with a loud voice: “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.” He is acquainted with the character of His Father, with His justice, His mercy, and His great love, and in submission He drops into His hands. Amid the convulsions of nature are heard by the amazed spectators the dying words of the Man of Calvary.—Testimonies for the Church 2:210, 211 (1869).
God Has Not Changed—A feeling of assurance is not to be despised; we should praise God for it; but when your feelings are depressed, do not think that God has changed. Praise Him just as much, because you trust in His word, and not in feelings. You have covenanted to walk by faith, not to be controlled by feelings. Feelings vary with circumstances.—Lt 42, 1890. (HC 124.)
No Disposition to Speak of Doubts—Through the merits of Christ, through His righteousness, which by faith is imputed unto us, we are to attain to the perfection of Christian character. Our daily and hourly work is set forth in the words of the apostle: “Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith.” While doing this our minds become clearer and our faith stronger, and our hope is confirmed; we are so engrossed with the view of His purity and loveliness and the sacrifice He has made to bring us into agreement with God that we have no disposition to speak of doubts and discouragements.—Testimonies for the Church 5:744 (1889).
True Christian and Depression—The true Christian does not allow any earthly consideration to come in between his soul and God. The commandment of God wields an authoritative influence over his affections and actions. (p.496) If everyone seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness would be always ready to work the works of Christ, how much easier would become the path to heaven. The blessings of God would flow into the soul, and the praises of the Lord would be on your lips continually. You would then serve God from principle. Your feelings might not always be of a joyous nature; clouds would at times shadow the horizon of your experience; but the Christian’s hope does not rest upon the sandy foundation of feeling. Those who act from principle will behold the glory of God beyond the shadows and rest upon the sure word of promise. They will not be deterred from honoring God, however dark the way may seem. Adversity and trial will only give them an opportunity to show the sincerity of their faith and love.
When depression settles upon the soul, it is no evidence that God has changed. He is “the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” You are sure of the favor of God when you are sensible of the beams of the Sun of righteousness; but if the clouds sweep over your soul, you must not feel that you are forsaken. Your faith must pierce the gloom. Your eye must be single, and your whole body shall be full of light. The riches of the grace of Christ must be kept before the mind. Treasure up the lessons that His love provides. Let your faith be like Job’s, that you may declare, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” Lay hold on the promises of your heavenly Father, and remember His former dealing with you and with His servants; for “all things work together for good to them that love God.”—The Review and Herald, January 24, 1888.