Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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Is depression a clinical ailment caused by chemical imbalance in the brain, or is it a justifiable end result of drifting away from God?  Should a person suffering from depression just go to the doctor or talk to their confessor father? Does the Coptic Church believe in the existence of depression?

Certainly the church believes in depression as a treatable diagnosis, under the care of a physician. Depression left untreated can result in many further illnesses.

Along with medical, there should be spiritual treatment through the Church and the Holy Bible. We should abide in the reassurance and hope  that we have in God who carries us on His shoulders.

In recovery and to further avoid depression, the person should always continue to put God first and make the knowledge of Jesus Christ a goal in his life. It is said, "For after all these things the Gentiles seek, for your Heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and these things shall be added unto you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble" (Matthew 6:32-34).

Daily Holy Bible readings is a continuous remedy to depression. "I do not count myself to have apprehended but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead. I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Jesus Christ" (Philippians 3:13-14).

A depressed person should know never to give up. This is part of the treatment. "Let us not grow weary while doing good for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart" (Galatians 6:9).

When we keep in perspective that we do everything for the Lord Jesus Christ and not for our own selfish motives, depression will disappear, and we will find true happiness. "According to my earnest expectations and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed but that will all boldness as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or death. For me to live is Christ and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:20-21).

Medical depression has medical signs and symptoms  which include:
Swinging mood:  This reflects a persistent and pervasive unhappy mood rather than the transient and situation -specific mood typical of adolescence. Changed mood may project a global anger that interferes with interpersonal relationships.

Low self-esteem: Results in feelings of unworthiness, guilt, and rejection; leads to behaviors that "set up" failure and rejection.

Decreased energy: Marked by extreme fatigue that is incapitating at times; the person may "wake up tired", which leads to concern about possible underlying illness.

Problems with school or work involvement: Includes both academic or professional performance and social activity; low grades or decrease in academic or professional performance can provide marker of emotional difficulty, changes in interpersonal relationships, social isolation and withdrawal.

Somatic Complaints: Symptoms usually fall within 3 categories: physical complaints with fatigue, alterations in sleep patterns, and changes in appetite and body weight.
A person with such symptoms has to seek the care of a physician to see if medication and treatment are necessary.

Following treatment, if counseling is recommended, I suggest seeking out a counselor if possible who is a true Orthodox believer.

If physicians and counselors outside of the faith are the only possible choice, I further suggest to follow-up any treatment recommendations with your confessor father.
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