Is music the answer to depression?

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Check out these lyrics from “Let the Music Get Down in Your Soul” by Mark Broussard:

When your life gets too complicated
Gotta let the music
Get Down in your soul
Forget all your frustrations
And let the music music
Get down in your soul
Get on up, My brother,
And let the music, get down in your soul
Get on up, up yeah my sister
And let the music get down in your soul

Everyday ain’t gonna be sunny, No
Gotta let the music
Get down in your soul
Life ain’t filled with milk and honey, No
Gotta let the music music
Get down in your soul

Things ain’t as bad as they may seem
But you can’t find reality living in a dream
The strength you need, you had it all the time
You’ll find the answers in the back of your mind

Forget all you frustrations
come on
And let the music music
Get down in your soul

______________________________________________________

Is that the answer to life’s troubles?  Simply “let the music get down in your soul”?  Does that really help in the long run?  Maybe escaping into a song, simply forgetting your frustrations, realizing that you have always had the strength you need is what some people use, but Scripture offers a different hope.

Read these lyrics by a guy named David from Psalm 32:

Blessed is he
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.

Blessed is the man
whose sin the LORD does not count against him
and in whose spirit is no deceit.

When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.

For day and night
your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer.
Selah

Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
my transgressions to the LORD “—
and you forgave
the guilt of my sin.
Selah

Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you
while you may be found;
surely when the mighty waters rise,
they will not reach him.

You are my hiding place;
you will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance.
Selah

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you and watch over you.

Do not be like the horse or the mule,
which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
or they will not come to you.

Many are the woes of the wicked,
but the LORD’s unfailing love
surrounds the man who trusts in him.

Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous;
sing, all you who are upright in heart!

_____________________________________________________

There seems to be a connection here between forgiveness and overcoming depression.  When David refused to confess his sin to God, he felt as though his bones were wasting away and his strength was dried up.  Sounds like he was feeling pretty rotten…we might even call that a sort of depression.  He then acknowledged his sin and didn’t hide it from the Lord, and found forgiveness.  What a gift!  What a weight of guilt is lifted off when we are forgiven!  “Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity!”

I’m not meaning to minimize the pain of depression, or discount it as a serious problem, or even say that all depression is directly linked with sin.  I’m just offering this as one answer to “feeling down.”  If you find that life is too complicated, instead of working to “get the music down in your soul,” how about confessing your sin to God and asking Him to cleanse you and restore your joy?  Maybe the dark clouds of depression will lift.  However, even if they do not, you can rest assured that “steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.”  He will sustain you and give you reason to “shout for joy!”

What do you need to confess to the Lord today?

 

Christ follower, husband, father, writer, small groups pastor at Saddleback Community Church. Communications director for the Small Group Network.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • http://www.noelbagwell.com Noel

    Major depressive disorder (also known as clinical depression, major depression, unipolar depression, or unipolar disorder) is a mental disorder characterized by an all-encompassing low mood accompanied by low self-esteem, and loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities. The term “major depressive disorder” was selected by the American Psychiatric Association to designate this symptom cluster as a mood disorder in the 1980 version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III) classification, and has become widely used since.

    The causes of major depressive disorder can be social, psychological or even biological (for example, a chemical imbalance in the brain or a hormonal imbalance – like post-partum depression). Major depressive disorder may even be related to abnormalities in the circadian rhythm, or biological clock.

    It is important to understand that depression is a complex mental state. It might be reduceable, for some people, to just feeling bad about something they did (or didn’t do), in which case, confession and forgiveness might play a part in resolving some of their unpleasant emotions. For most with major depressive disorder, though, this is an insulting oversimplification of the problem that does, in fact, diminish others’ perception of what they’re going through.

    This can lead to isolation and increase risk of suicide. It is important to let those with major depressive disorder know that they are valuable and loved, and that no matter how bad things seem, they can get through it and have a fulfilling existence.

    Having had close relationships with people who have had major depressive disorder, I have come to view religious views on the condition as – in most cases – inadequate at best, and dismissive at worst. Just telling someone with major depressive disorder to just trust Jesus and it will all be okay is not only insulting, but dangerous. What happens when it’s not okay? That false hope that you give the person, once shattered, can lead to further depths of despair, and, potentially, suicide.

    Certainly, I agree with you that music is not a cure for depression, but neither is religion, alone. Instead, a comprehensive treatment, based on unique, individual cases, is necessary to combat depression. Such treatments may include religious counseling, but they may also need to include psychotherapy, medication, environmental changes, et al., etc.

  • http://hiswill4me.blogspot.com Hetty Siebens

    #1 yes-music is a major uplifter if it is the right music-and not one just to feel the pain you are going thru…I have been there-good ol’ Matchbox Twenty-and after my ex beat me-popped so many pills I shouldn’t still be here…when I found Jesus and turned to music for Him…as for that is what Psalms is all about-talk about a whirlwind of difference.

    #2 Forgiveness…I was able to lift so much weight-by #1 giving all my worries to Jesus-and forgiving my ex for all the anguish-and asking for forgiveness-as for it takes 2 to cause issues. When that happened…such a huge change in my life-in my focus had ocurred…and life was all about Him-for His Glory…not me-my pain and anguish-my epilepsy and how will it be fixed, AGAIN. He has the answers…His Will-WILL BE DONE…just trust Him…

    Very wise…when I hold things in-I am personally taught by Jesus-time to forgive-as for stress and anxiety will cause more seizures than I would normally have-amazing…

    God bless you…

    In His Grip,

    Hetty Siebens @Hetty4Christ

    Psalm 86:5 O LORD, You are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask Your aid.
    Matthew 6:14 “If you forgive those who sin against you, your Heavenly Father will forgive you.”

  • http://www.ronedmondson.com Ron Edmondson

    I like to dance to music too! Dancing makes me happy!

  • benlreed

    Noel,
    Thanks for the comment. I see where you’re coming from. Certainly there are other causes of depression. But the fact remains that sin does lead to depression. I wasn’t intending to write a full discourse on the causes and treatment for depression. Rather, I was offering an explanation for some forms of depression, and showing that there is joy in being forgiven. We live in a Fallen world, and depression is, I believe, a result of the Fall (see Genesis 3). Which actually gives hope…when Christ returns, there will be no more depression! But until then, we will deal with all kinds of suffering, some caused by us, some caused by others, and some caused simply because we live in a sinful world. All suffering isn’t linked directly to a person’s sin (John 9:2-3, “His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.), but certainly some suffering is directly related. I could list several examples, as I’m sure you could. We may call them natural consequences of poor choices, but I think it’s God’s gentle hand of rebuke and correction. Based on this verse, though, it seems that God has a plan for suffering, whether there is a direct sin that links the suffering or not.
    So, confession and forgiveness are not the answer to all forms of depression. But they definitely are the answer to some. However, even if they aren’t the answer for a certain person’s depression, searching your heart, confessing your sins, and living in the freedom from guilt that God through Christ offers is a good thing.
    I never said, “Trust Jesus and it will all be okay.” It won’t! Why? Because we still live in a messed up world. However, in another, equally valid sense, it will all be okay. Why? Because then the person’s bigger problem, the fact that they’re not right with God, is solved. That may or may not get rid of their depression. I would say the same thing to somebody diagnosed with an incurable disease. Trust Jesus! Will that heal your disease? Well…maybe…but probably not. However, it will cure the more deadly disease, that of sin.

    Hopefully that helps you see where I’m coming from. I didn’t intend to oversimplify depression or its treatment. Depression needs a holistic approach. Body and soul work together, and need to both be addressed. There are some “biblical counselors” who take a simplistic approach to counseling. They land on the extreme conservative end, and say that if you would just love Jesus more, all of your problems would go away. Memorize a few verses and you won’t have any struggles. I’m not one of those guys. I know that a short blog post might land me in that camp, but I really am not. Scripture is my guide in counseling, heart change is the goal, and Jesus is the hope I offer, but I never neglect the mind/body connection. To do so would be unwise.

  • Eddie Christenberry

    Well said…