Spiritual Depression Symptoms

11 Spiritual Depression Symptoms You Should Know

Writen By: Sana Ihsan
Reviewed By: Huma Khan
Publish Date: November 7, 2023

Have you ever felt really sad, like your soul is lost in a big, dark hole and you can’t find any purpose or meaning in life?

Imagine feeling really down and having doubts and questions about your faith. It is like you are walking around with a big question mark in your mind, searching for answers. Spiritual depression symptoms can be the right term for your condition if you are suffering from persistent sadness and a sense of emptiness related to your faith and spiritual beliefs.

Spiritual depression is characterized by a profound sense of helplessness, detachment, and the absence of joy and meaning in life. Experiencing spiritual depression symptoms can be really tough, and it may seem hard to find a way out. But guess what? You can totally get through it. We’ll walk this journey together and find ways to feel better and more connected to your inner spirit.

Don’t miss out on this blog post, as it can help you find a way out of your spiritual depression symptoms, find your meaning in life, and revive your happiness. We will explain what exactly spiritual depression signs are, its stages, causes, and all the effective coping tips and treatments. We will also answer some frequently asked questions about this topic. Let’s do this!

What is Spirituality?

Spirituality, or the spiritual aspect of human well-being, means a deep and personal connection to matters of meaning, purpose, and values. It involves a search for understanding and a sense of inner peace, often through religious beliefs, philosophy, or personal reflections. This dimension of human well-being can provide a sense of purpose, inner strength, and comfort during challenging times. Spiritual well-being is highly individual and may take different forms, depending on one’s beliefs and experiences.

What is Spiritual Depression?

Spiritual depression, also known as faith-based depression, is a very complex psychological condition characterized by feelings of emotional distress, spiritual uncertainty, and a lack of inner peace. Individuals suffering from this form of depression often deal with questions surrounding their faith, the meaning of life, and their purpose in life. This can lead to deep inner emotional turmoil and a loss of spiritual or existential fulfillment.

Diagnosis of Spiritual Depression

Spiritual depression is not a specific diagnosis in the DSM-5. However, it can be conceptualized as a type of depression that is caused by a loss of faith or meaning in life. The diagnostic process for spiritual depression involves a comprehensive assessment conducted by mental health professionals. To diagnose spiritual depression, a therapist will typically ask you questions about your:

  • Spiritual or religious practices and beliefs
  • traumatic or abusive experiences related to religion
  • Spirituality and wellbeing at the moment
  • Symptoms of depression, such as changes in mood, thoughts, sleep, energy levels and appetite
  • Additional health issues or mental disorders
C. S. Lewis Spiritual Depression

The therapist may also use psychological assessments to help them diagnose spiritual depression. Your emotional state, level of anxiety, stress, and spiritual health may all be measured by these tests. After completing all the necessary steps, a precise diagnosis can be made, and your therapist will develop a treatment plan for you according to your condition.

Prevalence of Spiritual depression

The prevalence of spiritual depression can vary widely and is influenced by many factors, including cultural, religious, and individual differences. Research indicates that spiritual depression affects 20% of the general population; rates are higher in women, younger adults, and those with lower incomes and educational levels. This means that spiritual depression is a common and significant problem in the general population.

Common Spiritual Depression Symptoms

Here are some of the most common symptoms of spiritual depression:

1. Overwhelming spiritual emptiness and despair:

One of the most common symptoms of spiritual depression is a deep sense of unhappiness and pain in your heart. You are internally struggling to find joy and comfort in your prayers and spiritual activities. You feel empty inside because you have lost your connection with God or a higher power because you feel something is missing. Your belief in your spiritual practices doesn’t hold the same meaning to you anymore. You feel like you are lost with no direction in life and you don’t know where to look for guidance, which leads to hopelessness.

2. Loss of Meaning and Purpose:

Feeling a profound loss of meaning and purpose in life, as if the core values and goals that were once spiritually grounded have become unclear or unfulfilling. It’s like navigating through each day without a sense of direction or understanding of your larger purpose. This loss of meaning can contribute significantly to the overall sense of spiritual depression.

3. Feelings of spiritual guilt or unworthiness:

 Imagine feeling like you’ve let down someone who is very important to you, and you are very guilty about it. That’s what spiritual guilt feels like—it’s a very strong feeling of guilt for not living up to what you think God expects from you. You feel like you have committed a sin that cannot be redeemed by God anymore, and that is why you feel unworthy of God’s love, blessings, and forgiveness. This feeling of unworthiness can create a sort of emotional distance between you and God, which can contribute to your signs of spiritual depression.

4. Loss of interest in spiritual activities or practices:

Recall the time when you used to go to a mosque, temple, or church and do spiritual activities like prayer or worship. These activities were a significant part of your life, but now they don’t interest you as much. You can still perform those activities, but they are not coming from your heart, and you might be doing them merely out of a sense of duty. You can lose interest in your spiritual activities due to a variety of reasons, like having doubts about your beliefs, feeling cut off from God, feelings of disappointment from the divine, and many more.

5. Sense of disconnection from one’s spiritual beliefs or community:

Feeling a sense of disconnection from your spiritual beliefs or community can be tough. It’s like you’ve lost that connection with God and your faith, and you no longer feel like you belong to your religious community. It might seem like things have changed and you’re not on the same page anymore. The conversations and beliefs that once resonated with you now feel distant, adding to the feelings of spiritual depression.

6. Withdrawal from religious or spiritual activities:

When you withdraw yourself from religious activities, it means you don’t believe in them anymore. Withdrawal can happen for many reasons, such as changes in your beliefs, being unable to find a balance in your lifestyle, or going through a tough phase in your life, and you might feel that your prayers are being unheard by God. These feelings can create a sense of confusion and frustration in your mind, which further weakens your relationship with God.

7. Isolation from one’s spiritual community:

Picture a time when you were actively involved with a group of people who shared your religious beliefs. But now there comes a point when you start to feel distant from this community. It feels like you have stepped back and are no longer part of the inner circle because you don’t share the same beliefs anymore. This can be a lonely experience for you because it will create a sense of isolation between you and the people who used to provide you support, guidance and a sense of belonging in your faith.

8. Increased disbelief or doubts about spiritual beliefs:

You can experience increased disbelief and doubts in your spiritual beliefs because you might be exposed to different and deeply intellectual perspectives which is shattering your faith in your spiritual practices. The journey of doubt and questioning can lead individuals in two different but interconnected directions. On one hand, it can spark a deep exploration of one’s belief and spirituality. On the other hand, some individuals may use doubt as a stepping stone to revisit their original faith.

9. Fatigue or lack of energy:

Feeling extremely tired and drained, as if your spiritual struggles are taking a toll on your physical energy. It’s like your body is reflecting the exhaustion of your soul. It’s similar to how your body feels heavy and slow when you are sad, but in this case, it is connected to your faith and spirituality. 

10. Sleep disturbances:

Constantly overthinking and worrying about your doubts and questions regarding your faith can disturb your sleep routine. You are having restless nights and your mind is troubled by deep spiritual concerns, making it even more difficult to find peace and relaxation which can further add to your spiritual depression symptoms.

11. Physical ailments influenced by emotional distress:

Emotional distress from spiritual depression can take a toll on your physical health. Physical problems such as constant headaches, digestive problems and weakened immune system responses can be triggered by these emotional struggles.

Difference between Spiritual Depression and Clinical Depression

Spiritual depression is when you feel really down, sad, or lost in your faith or spiritual beliefs. It is a state of psychological and emotional distress related to a person’s religious or spiritual beliefs. It is like having a tough time connecting with what you used to believe in or finding meaning in your spiritual practices. This condition is more concerned with an individual’s inner beliefs and values. It may result from personal struggles, moral issues, or distance from your faith community.

Clinical depression, on the other hand, is a medical condition that affects your overall well-being. It is not limited to any specific set of beliefs or spirituality but can impact individuals regardless of their faith or religious background. Clinical depression involves persistent feelings of sadness along with many other physical symptoms. This condition can arise from a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, or psychological factors. It often requires extensive medical treatment and therapy to manage the symptoms.

Symptoms of Clinical Depression

Some of the common symptoms of Clinical Depression are:

  • Persistent sadness or low mood
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most activities
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • Difficulty in making decisions 
  • Feeling irritable and anxious 
  • Loss of appetite or unhealthy increase of appetite(eating disorders)
  • Sleep disturbances or insomnia in severe conditions
  • Having suicidal thoughts 
  • Social anxiety

The Connection between Spirituality and Depression

The connection between spirituality and depression is like a seesaw. Sometimes faith can lift your spirits when you are down, acting as a source of comfort. However, when the seesaw tips the other way, it can impact you very negatively and trigger spiritual depression symptoms. The link between spirituality and depression is complex and not fully understood. However, research suggests that spirituality can play a role in both the development and treatment of depression.

Spiritual as a contributing factor:

In some cases, rigid religious beliefs that cause guilt or worthlessness when expectations aren’t met can make depression worse. In a systematic review of 152 prospective studies, 10% of them suggested a link between spirituality and religiosity and higher rates of depression. This means that being more religious can make you more vulnerable to depression. Moreover, using spirituality to avoid addressing emotional pain or unresolved trauma instead of dealing with it may cause depression. Additionally, this 2020 research suggests that people with low spirituality are at greater risk of developing depression symptoms. Experiencing a spiritual crisis or doubting one’s beliefs can create anxiety and a sense of meaninglessness, increasing the risk of depression. 

Spirituality as a protective factor:

People with higher levels of spirituality are less likely to experience depression. This is proven by a 2004 study that suggests that people who are more spiritual and have strong faith in God are less likely to be depressed This may be because spirituality can provide a sense of meaning, purpose, and belonging, which can be protective against stress and negative emotions.

Spirituality as a treatment modality:
Spirituality can also be used as a treatment for depression. According to a 2017 study, those who experience severe depressive symptoms because they fear dying from their illness may find solace in spirituality. Spiritual interventions, such as prayer, meditation, and mindfulness, can help people connect with something greater than themselves and find meaning and purpose in life. Combining spiritual practices with traditional therapy has shown improved outcomes in treating depression.

Hence, in the light of these research studies, we found that spirituality is indeed a very powerful feeling and it has a positive connection with depression but in some situations, it can cause negative impacts as well. Further research is needed to learn about the precise mechanisms by which spirituality exerts its protective and therapeutic effects.

Stages of Spiritual Depression

Here are some of the common stages of Spiritual depression.

Stage One: Disappointment in the Divine

Spiritual depression symptoms usually start becoming visible when you feel disappointed in God or a higher power. This disappointment can result from many things, such as the loss of a loved one, a failing relationship, a lost job or being unable to get your dream job, getting rejected from your dream university or program, struggling to start your family at your desired time, and many more.

The reasons are all very different but the center point revolves around one feeling, the feeling of not getting something you want at your desired time. Our response to these disappointments can shape the future course of our lives, as we should know that God never makes errors in what he allows to happen in our lives.

Stage two: Disconnection and lack of contentment 

You are experiencing a sense of disconnection from God because you might feel spiritually and emotionally distant from your relationship with the divine. This disconnection often happens because of a shift in your beliefs, doubts in your faith or any personal challenges. In such situations, individuals may question the existence of divine power, such as God, which can act as a trigger for spiritual depression symptoms.

You feel a lack of contentment in your life when you are unsatisfied with whatever God has provided you. These thoughts can lead to feelings of anger or bitterness toward God. In some situations, you may pity yourself and feel that you deserve much more than what you are actually getting. Such feelings can make you lose trust in God’s plan and you might struggle to find the contentment that you need. 

Stage three: Hopelessness 

You might feel hopeless because you are struggling to find the answers you are searching for. When a person feels hopeless, they drown in the depths of despair and believe that there is no way out of these challenging circumstances. You are desperately looking for the guidance and the ray of hope that you need at this time but you are failing to find them.

Stage four: Self Destruction

When disappointment, disconnection, and hopelessness continue further, it can lead to self-destruction. This is the most critical stage of spiritual depression, where the individual gets involved in self-destructive behaviors, leading to an increase in their spiritual depression symptoms. This self-harm behavior is often a cry for help or a display of the inner turmoil they are going through.

Causes of Spiritual Depression

1. Loss of Faith:

Experiencing events or situations that challenge or slowly destroy an individual’s belief or faith in their spirituality. This loss of faith can also be a result of personal trauma, individual struggles, or doubts about your spiritual practices in general.

2. Grief or loss:

The death of a loved one or any other significant loss can lead to spiritual questioning, which further leads to spiritual depression symptoms. In such cases, coping with grief may create a sense of spiritual emptiness and despair.

3. Ethical or moral dilemmas:

Struggling with moral or ethical conflicts with an individual’s religious or spiritual framework can lead to spiritual depression. A feeling of guilt or regret over your own moral mistakes or wrongdoings may further contribute to your spiritual depression symptoms.

4. Life transitions:

Major life changes, such as divorce, job loss, retirement, or any other significant loss or changes in your life can trigger spiritual depression. These transitions may disturb an individual’s sense of purpose in life and can lead to spiritual depression symptoms.

5. Trauma and Abuse:

Experiencing trauma and abuse can shatter one’s trust in a higher power, religious communities, and spiritual practices. The aftermath of such experiences can lead to spiritual depression symptoms.

6. Existential Questions:

Thinking about the deeper questions of life, such as the meaning of existence or the afterlife, can trigger spiritual uncertainty. The search for logical answers to such questions can lead to spiritual depression.

7. Relationship Conflicts:

Struggles within religious or spiritual relationships, such as disagreements or misunderstandings with spiritual leaders or community members, can lead to spiritual confusion and uncertainty. These conflicts can disrupt an individual’s connection to their religious community and can lead to spiritual depression symptoms.

8. Societal or Cultural Influences:

Broader changes in society and cultural shifts may challenge an individual’s traditional beliefs. Feeling a loss of connection with your religious surroundings can cause spiritual depression.

9. Unresolved Questions:

Many people receive unsatisfying answers to their spiritual or religious questions, which causes spiritual unrest and anxiety. Persistent uncertainty can cause a sense of disconnection and despair in an individual’s faith, which contributes to spiritual depression symptoms.

10. Chronic Illness or Disability:

Coping with a long term disability or illness can lead to spiritual questioning. The challenges and sufferings associated with chronic health conditions may contribute to feelings of spiritual emptiness and doubt. Such feelings can act as a trigger for spiritual depression symptoms.

When to Seek Help for Spiritual Depression?

You should consider seeking help for your spiritual depression when:

  • Symptoms Persist
  • Interferes with Daily Life
  • Causes Severe Distress
  • Social Isolation
  • Impact on Physical Health
  • Personal Struggle
  • Loss of purpose
  • Impact on Relationships

Coping Strategies for Spiritual Depression

  1. Seek Support:

Reach out to trustworthy family, friends, and a supportive spiritual community to share your feelings and concerns.

  1. Professional Help:

Consider taking professional help from a therapist or a counselor to manage your symptoms.

  1. Journaling:

Writing down your thoughts and feelings can help you better understand and process your spiritual struggles.

  1. Self-care:

Prioritize self-care activities such as meditation and relaxation techniques to reduce your stress and improve your emotional well-being.

  1. Reconnect with Nature:

Spending time in nature can have a calming effect on your mind, providing a sense of spiritual connection.

  1. Explore Spiritual Literature:

Reading spiritual books that resonate with your feelings can provide comfort during this journey.

  1. Reevaluate your beliefs:

Reflect on your spiritual beliefs and values, allowing room for transformation and growth in your faith.

  1. Engage in Spiritual Practices:

Reintroduce spiritual practices that bring you peace and comfort, even if on a smaller scale.

  1. Set Realistic Goals:

Break down your spiritual goals into manageable steps to avoid feelings of stress.

  1. Patience and Self-compassion:

Don’t be too hard on yourself, and understand that healing from spiritual depression takes time, so give yourself that time.

Self-Help Books

Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Its Cure by David Martyn Lloyd-Jones

This book provides a biblical perspective on spiritual depression, exploring its causes and offering solutions. 

Spiritual Depression by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

This book is a more in-depth study of spiritual depression, drawing on Lloyd-Jones many years of pastoral experience. 

Overcoming Spiritual Depression by Arie Elshout

This book takes a holistic approach to spiritual depression, addressing its physical, emotional, and spiritual dimensions. 

The Islamic Guide to Depression: 10 Spiritual Reflections by Idris Salik

This book provides a Muslim perspective on depression, exploring its causes and offering spiritual solutions.

Spiritual Depression: Lifting Up for the Downcast by Audu Suyum

This book offers a Christian perspective on spiritual depression, drawing on the author’s personal experiences and his work as a pastor.

Conclusion

In conclusion, this blog post emphasizes the importance of addressing spiritual depression symptoms. It highlights that spiritual depression can have a serious impact on an individual’s mental and emotional well-being. In the end, we would highly encourage our readers to seek help from their spiritual leaders when they are having questions about their faith. If you are facing any of the spiritual depression symptoms mentioned above, then reach out to a professional mental health expert. You should definitely take help from support groups that are available online where you will be able to connect with people suffering from similar situations like you.

FAQS

  1. How do you know if you have a spirit of depression?

If you have prolonged feelings of deep sadness, hopelessness and disconnection from your faith then you might have spiritual depression.

  1. What are the causes of spiritual suffering?

The causes of spiritual depression can be loss of faith, grief, ethical dilemmas, unanswered questions and many more.

  1. Does depression effect spirituality?

Depression can affect spirituality by making it difficult to find meaning in life, weakening faith in a higher power, disconnecting people from their spiritual community, and causing cognitive distortions about spiritual beliefs and practices.

However, it is important to note that not everyone with depression experiences a negative impact on their spirituality. Some people may find that their faith strengthens during difficult times.

  1. What is the name of the demon of depression?

The demon of depression is called Noonday Depression.

  1. What are the signs of spiritual stress?

The most common signs include sadness, restlessness, and anxiety related to your faith or spiritual beliefs.

  1. What is the spiritual meaning of depression?

The spiritual meaning of depression can mean that you might feel unworthy of God’s love and have emotional and physical detachment from God.