Finding Hope in Despair

Famous author and theologian C.S. Lewis once said, “Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say, ‘My tooth is aching’ than to say, ‘My heart is broken.’” —C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

Maybe you’ve felt mental pain—the dull ache we call depression. Depression says the end of hope has come. It says nothing will ever be good or bright or worth smiling about again. It says life is heavy and bleak; you’ll never have anything but failure; you’re not good enough for what you want in life, and you’ll never get it no matter what you do.

And anxiety? Those debilitating, oftentimes groundless, feelings of worry or fear strong enough to disrupt our ability to function, to work, to love, or to stay healthy are so universal that they trump every other category of mental illness.

Depression and anxiety don’t care who you are or who you know or how much money you have in the bank. They don’t care if you’re rich, poor, educated, talented, popular, or simple and low-profile, gorgeous or homely or somewhere in between. They are equal-opportunity disorders.

The good news is, this lack of hope, these worries—they’re lying to you. It may feel as if they’re telling the truth, but feelings can and do change, and that’s what we hope will happen to you. Keep reading to discover timeless keys to getting help.


Dealing with depression and anxiety starts with understanding. Know thine enemy, because if you shine a light on the darkness, the darkness will disappear. The physical, psychological, spiritual causes of anxiety and depression must first be identified and addressed in order for us to find relief.

So let’s make it very simple.

This is the common definition of anxiety—a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. Here is the clinical definition—a mental health disorder characterized by feelings of worry or fear that are strong enough to interfere with one’s daily activities.

This is the common definition of depression—a state of feeling sad, or despondency. Here is the clinical definition—a mood disorder marked especially by sadness, inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentration, a significant increase or decrease in appetite, sleeping more or sleeping less than usual, feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal tendencies.

In both anxiety and depression, the ability to function normally becomes impaired. We will all experience fear and sadness at times, but these conditions become clinical when they make it impossible for us to do life in three main areas—relationships, productivity, and recreation. If you have clinical anxiety and/or depression, you will find it difficult to love, to work, and to enjoy. 


Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health diagnosis, affecting somewhere around 20% of the population in the US. In fact, some studies show a lifetime prevalence rate of nearly 34%.1 The global statistics are similar, around 30%.2 This means that almost ⅓ of human beings will have an anxiety disorder at time point.

Depression is also very common. Major depressive disorder is the most commonly diagnosed depression-related disorder at a lifetime prevalence rate of just over 20% in the U.S.3 The global statistics are similar. One in five men and one in three women will have an episode of major depression before the age of 65.4 In 2017 the World Health Organization named depression as the leading cause of disability in the world.5

This tells us that about half of people globally have one or both of these two disorders. Do you feel less alone? Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill had depression; Emily Dickenson and Vincent van Gough had anxiety. Do you feel more hopeful that you can still make an impact?


The treatment of anxiety and depression are very similar. Think about it: Anxiety looks apprehensively toward the future; depression looks regretfully at the past. Yet we cannot predict the future nor change the past. Learning to live in the present moment, changing what we can rather than dwelling upon what we cannot change, is a big part of mental health. This is called an “internal locus of control,” or a sense of agency. The serenity prayer says, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” What can we change? We can change the way we live, think, and love. The treatments for anxiety and depression fall into those three categories.

The Way We Live

Everything is connected—body, soul, and spirit. The brain, which houses our thoughts and feelings, is a physical organ. This means that improving our physical health will improve our brain health. Improved brain health means that we have the chemical and functional basis for regulating mood and anxiety. This is where nature habits and hacks come in—lifestyle patterns we can change to improve global health, including brain health.

The Way We Think

Thoughts lead and feelings follow. So often in anxiety and depression, this process is reversed. We feel sad or anxious, and we begin to believe those emotions. Then, because we believe them, we feel them even more deeply. Clinicians call this emotional reasoning because it places emotions where our reasoning faculties should be. Much of reversing this downward spiral involves identifying our thoughts and feelings, and learning to mold them into more healthy, balanced forms. 

The Way We Love

Many of our negative thoughts and feelings began with relationship problems. God created us to love and be loved, and when that purpose breaks down, so do we. Childhood trauma can give birth to negative patterns we find difficult to change. Yet with the right skill set, we can all learn better approaches to relationships. And we can come to know a God whose love “never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:8).

Join us . . .

Because we wish to help thousands heal from these common disorders, we are offering a FREE mini-course taken from our larger course Anxiety & Depression Relief. We have learned how to help ourselves and others. Please allow us to help you! 

You can also check out 23 Bible Verses for Depression and 8 Powerful Bible Verses to Ease Your Anxiety.


[3] Brandon May, March 15, 2018, Prevalence of Major Depressive Disorder Remains High in US Population.
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Jennifer Jill Schwirzer LPC

In 1999 Jennifer graduated summa cum laude from Atlantic Union College. She is the founder of Michael Ministries, a music/speaking/writing ministry. She has produced six CDs of her own music and given concerts in the United States, Canada, Africa, South America, and Europe. Previous books include Testimony of a Seeker, A Most Precious Message, and I Want It All. Jennifer and husband, Michael, have been married for more than 20 years and have two children, Alison and Kimberly.

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