Home > Health, Mental Illness > Depression: Physiological or Psychological?

Depression: Physiological or Psychological?

Perhaps this is a post that belongs on my depression introspection blog, but since I’ve already put a recent post up over there, I’ll post my “think out loud” thoughts on this blog.

When it comes to depression, I still very much struggle with accepting the physiological aspect of it. Doctors don’t order MRIs and blood tests to diagnose a severe bout of depression; it’s based solely on affect and the patient’s report of symptoms (e.g., fatigue, loss of interest, suicidal thoughts). As I mused in “Should psych drugs be avoided at ALL costs?“, I wasn’t anti-medication then and I’m not anti-medication now. I just don’t see it as something that will help me. Lamictal, when I was on it, made me stable but I suffered from poor cognitive functioning, fatigue, and dizzy spells. The Abilify has been better in terms of cognitive functioning but I suffer from lethargy something serious.

The reason I began this post is to wonder about depression in the Christian’s life: is it physiological, is it psychological, or is it a mix of the two? (And of course, why would it be any different in a Christian’s life than in a non-Christian’s life?)

I’ve been grappling with the idea that maybe if I pray more, read my Bible more, and grow closer to Jesus, I’ll feel better. Although I know that’s not necessarily true. But I also don’t buy into the idea that if I get the right combination of medicine into my system, I will feel better. My psych wants to put me on a combination of Abilify and Prozac. Oh boy. I’m afraid to try life on an SSRI again. Although according to an old post about fluoxetine (Prozac), the worst side effect I suffered was somnolence (sleepiness) and I didn’t report any problems with suicidal thoughts after withdrawal so it might be safe to take.

I am still no closer to answering the question of whether depression is physiological or psychological. I lean toward psychological, but is it really just mind over matter? What do you think?

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  1. April 22, 2012 at 1:26 AM

    Great question! Personally, I was prescribed Effexor and it has made a tremendous difference. As a Christian, I believe that depression can be a delicate topic. I was once told (by a Christian leader) that depression does not exist and is simply a side effect of sin. After hearing this, I ended up in this spiral of condemnation because I simply could not stop sinning. Turns out that some people are simply ignorant. I am very grateful for my meds, but each person needs to make their own decision. I think that drawing closer to God is an awesome idea, but I would consider that, if it is a medical condition, that a doctor may have some good input. Don’t forget that God created doctors to help us. 🙂
    Please keep us updated on how you are doing – and as always, I’m praying for you. 🙂

    • Kassi
      April 25, 2012 at 1:51 PM

      Thank you, Lisa. You are very kind and I appreciate your input.

  2. April 28, 2012 at 9:57 PM

    interesting post. the way i see it, our brains are obviously a physical thing. Our thoughts are series of tiny electric impulses flying between roughly 100 billion nerve cells within our brain, so you’ll never get a complete separation of the physiological and the psychological. The best way to go about the question might be “Can i solve this problem by focusing on my thoughts? or should i be focusing on my physiology?” some of us (including myself) can regulate our moods more effectively just using psychological techniques, but we’re all susceptible to changes in our physiological chemistry, somedays you just feel a bit flat, (or in an especially good mood!) and it’s not immediately obvious why. So where i can get by without medication, but constant practice of thought techniques are necessary, my best friend had bi-polar and after a lot of trial and error, he finds a low but constant dose of a moodl regulating medication helps him the most. (along with counseling). So I would agree with the 3rd option you mentioned: it’s a mix. manly because there’s no black and white distinction, but merely different hemispheres of the same condition.

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