Hopelessness is a dreadful feeling. The Bible says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12). Many people go through times when they know something is terribly wrong, but they often can’t put their finger on it. All they can explain is a strong sense that nothing is going to work out.
It’s unwise to ignore chronic feelings of hopelessness. Our souls cannot live for long in a state of perceived hopelessness. Hope is the oxygen of the soul. Without a hopeful outlook, our souls will eventually suffocate.
Our dilemma is that a hopeful perspective is as fragile as it is indispensable. Situations beyond our control can delay the fulfillment of hope and leave us in a fog of uncertainty and despair. As hope seems to be collapsing all around us, the potential exists to lose heart and slip into a state of depression.
Depression is a troubled mood or state of the soul that has a dramatic effect on our bodies. We lose energy. Sleeping and eating patterns become abnormal. And we have difficulty concentrating.
Depression can be mild or major. The more depression interferes with a person’s ability to sleep, to eat, to work, to focus, and to enjoy life, the greater the severity of depression, and the greater need there is to be concerned.
Sometimes a depressive mood lifts for no apparent reason. Usually,however, depression doesn’t work itself out over time. Left to itself, it can linger on like an old injury that slowly wears a person down.Over time, it can grow into a severe debilitating problem. That’s why it’s important for those who are depressed to seek help.
An honest reflection of the following statements can alert a person to a potential problem with depression:
- I feel sad or shut down nearly every day.
- I have little or no interest in doing things I used to enjoy.
- I’m sleeping too little or too much.
- I’m eating too little or too much.
- I feel tired most of the time.
- I find it difficult to stay focused.
- I’ve lost interest in physical intimacy with my spouse.
- I feel overwhelmed by the burdens of life.
- I don’t hold out much hope that my life will improve in the future.
- I shift between feeling helpless and unworthy to feeling angry and cheated.
- I think about death or killing myself.
Those who identify with two to four of the above statements should,at the very least, consider seeing a physician for a complete medical checkup. Sometimes these are symptoms of a pure medical condition. Those who identify with five or more of the above statements should consider seeking immediate professional help.