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Spiritual depression occurs when a religious person begins to feel a lack of faith, closeness to God or a disillusionment with her religion. In some ways, spiritual depression can present itself in a similar fashion as classic depression. Those who suffer from it might struggle with feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness or a lack of interest in the people or activities they used to care about. The differentiating marker is that spiritual depression typically encompasses some kind of religious element.
A primary cause of spiritual depression is feeling an absence of God. Sometimes, this can be a result of guilt, and other times, it might occur when a person goes through trials in his life or feels that important prayers have been left unanswered. Occasionally, a person might feel God drifting away for no discernible reason.
Spiritual depression can occasionally occur alongside a crisis of belief. A woman might not feel that her God has moved far away from her, but may think she is the wandering one by losing a childhood faith. The depression might set in if she concludes that she cannot return to the comfortable and familiar worldview she held in the past. Whether she completely abandons her original belief system or settles on an altered version of mature faith, she could feel unsettled with her new outlook on life. This is common among those raised in very religious homes or communities.
Ethical dilemmas may also prompt a spiritual depression. A man could find himself morose as he views either his own moral failures or the injustices he witnesses in the world around him. For example, someone who has devoted a lot of time to charity and goodwill might become discouraged if he starts thinking that his efforts—or the efforts of his religion—will never truly make a difference in the world.
Spiritual depression can be handled with similar treatment methods to classic depression. The battle with faith-based depression can be helped by talking it out with friends, starting a prayer journal or undertaking a frequent reading of uplifting scriptures. Most professionals will agree that if depression persists, it is recommended that the affected individual see a licensed counselor. Symptoms of severe depression could be excessive sleep or insomnia, a change in appetite or thoughts of suicide or other forms of self-harm. It might be helpful for those spiritually depressed to find a counselor who shares their faith—names and phone numbers are typically available from local doctors or church offices.
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