Depressed mood in a theological perspective
The symptoms of depression and those of accidie as described by the Desert Fathers overlap, in that feelings of despair, guilt, poor estimates of self-worth, lack of energy and self-absorption predominate. Tillich adds to these symptoms a sense of meaninglessness and purposelessness. A new model of depressed mood is proposed which incorporates a variety of different aetiological factors, integrating those from the body and the mind which are found in clinical practice, with others which have a spiritual origin. The need for reconciliation with God, the world and the self means that discernment of spiritual problems can be fundamental in finding an answer to disturbed mood. The psychological aspects of guilt and self-hatred and lethargy are explored through the work of Karen Homey, mainly in a discussion of the compulsions caused by an inflated ego-ideal. The work of Carl Jung emphasises the integration of the shadow, stressing the importance of reconciling polarities in the psyche so as to generate a creative tension which can replenish spiritual and mental energy. Many theologians, including Tillich, also emphasise that opposites must come together, so that God can be found at the centre of all things. Hans Urs von Balthasar is " outstanding because of his understanding of Christ's kenosis in balance with His plerosis These polarities point to the way in which Christ, through His Passion and Resurrection redeems us from godforsakermess, and also suggest a helpful way of understanding the Trinity as Love. Nicholas de Cusa and Ignatius of Loyola, from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, have a common strand of finding God in the midst of opposite and fragmenting influences. Miguel de Unamuno at the beginning of this century adds a dimension of God's involvement in tragedy and suffering, and Charles Williams stresses our co-inherence vyith God, and the need for forgiveness in bearing each other’s burdens. The convergence of psychological and theological insights concerning polarities is applied to a recovery model for depressed mood through cognitive therapy, art, and prayer - methods which search, respectively, for truth, beauty and goodness. The process of healing is part of redemption, in that the 'Fruits of the Spirit' are the antithesis of some of the symptoms of depression, such as guilt, anger, self-absorption and fear. We may feel helpless and vulnerable because of negative feelings, but in His total self-giving, Christ suffered the helplessness and agony of the Passion in order to transform our disorders and bring us to His Kingdom of service and praise.