Is Depression Addicting?

A key principle taught by the Arbinger Institute involves the realization that some things we most want to overcome, are things we have the hardest time letting go of because they become characteristic of both who we are, and our justification for how we feel about others or our situation in life.

I saw this as a home teacher working with a family in another state. The mother was really struggling with maintaining a small business and her family in the midst of morality, health and drug issues affecting family members. We would teach and invite her and the family members we could reach to greater activity in church functions but they were largely ignored. I gradually felt she had become so defined by problems that she had a hard time letting them go. Life for her seemed like an onion comprised of multiple layers of problems. It was unclear what would have been left if we had peeled back and solved the problems one layer at a time. There was a sincere struggle to get to a better place but also a curious grip that was reluctant to really move on.

Elder Holland addressed depression masterfully in his talk, “Like a Broken Vessel”.  I agree with him that there are times when expert help is needed in turning this emotion around. I also know the Lord expects us to do all we can and so as one who has wrestled with depression and seen many personal struggles with addiction offer one idea I hope some will find helpful as a starting point:


Really desire to be happy…


In addiction recovery, individuals often realize that in all honesty, part of them is trying to hold onto the addiction because they don’t even know how it is to feel normal. Some call the addiction their ‘medication’ or ‘companion’. It is when my brothers desired with their whole heart to overcome, that the miracles began happening with wonderful results. Some start by saying, “I want to want to”, and grow from there.

Depression is similar to addiction in many ways. It draws one back again and again and slackens one’s strength. The decision to give your heart to loving others and thereby draw near to our Savior is the first step to happiness, and then deciding to be grateful for every tiny blessing helps us complete the journey.

This doesn’t mean that there won’t be terribly sad emotions that come to us from disappointments or the death of a loved one. But it does mean that it is possible to be grateful, even when we are suffering. For me personally, it means I’m grateful that the Savior, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, is allowing me to feel a portion of his pain so I can be more like Him. I love Him. I am grateful to Him, and I feel His love in every beautiful thing.

And so, I’ve avoided answering the very question I posed, “Is Depression Addicting?” Addiction or not, it can eventually be overcome through our Savior who wants us to overcome all things and have perfect joy.

Please also see  “Grateful in any Circumstances”