Are You Unhappy and Hopeless? Ten Telltale Signs of Depression

I recently came across an interview with Dr. Wayde Goodall, Dean of College of Ministry at Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington. Apart from the college, Goodall had served as a pastor for 25 years in Washington and North Carolina. In his article, Coming Out of the Dark, he shares his thoughts on depression.

“I hit my depression and burnout in 1987 after finishing 7 years of 70-plus hours a week in the ministry,” he said. “I had not taken a vacation in 7 years. My wife and I went right into fund-raising for missions, went on the mission field, and then it hit me. I thought I was experiencing culture shock, but I was not; it was burnout and clinical depression. I was exhausted.”

He shares more of his journey and struggle with depression, among other things, and then directs his thoughts toward struggling pastors:

”I would encourage pastors to get help. The first thing they must do is go to a Christian counselor or physician and tell them what is going on. This counselor needs to understand depression and talk to the pastor about where they are in their life. Pastors need to talk about their condition quickly and define where they are.”

He goes on to say that pastors and their spouses need to re-prioritize their lives in a healthy way. “Pastors are not exercising. They do not have balance in their life. Pastors are not living a balanced life, are not taking care of their bodies, and are not getting enough rest. These items contribute to a balanced picture and are preventative maintenance.”

If you find yourself relating to Dr. Goodall or are not sure whether you’re depressed or burned out, I encourage you to ask yourself these questions, provided by Steve Arterburn and New Life Ministries.

Do you feel like crying more often now than you normally have in the past?
Do you feel sad or blue much of the time?
When you see yourself in the mirror, do you look sad?
Do others comment that you no longer seem happy?

Do you frequently have a sense of hopelessness or helplessness?
Do you think nothing matters or nothing will do any good?
Does the phrase, “What’s the use?” come to mind frequently?

Do you have less motivation and interest in activities, hobbies, work,
or relationships you have previously enjoyed?

POSTED ON April 7, 2014
  • DJG

    Thanks for this article. As a pastor I have dealt with depression at times. Lately it seems that is the course in which I find myself due to various circumstances around me. I have found comfort in not hiding how I am doing with our Biblical Counseling Director. He has come alongside of me and has been there to encourage me. In addition, I spoke with a close friend and just told him how deeply sad that I have been. His response spoke volumes to me: “It’s for God’s glory that you’re going through this.”

    Again, thanks for addressing this issue.

  • PAT

    It seems to me, burn out is a tell tale sign of spiritual death. I argued in my mind with the man that once said that. When I burned badly and was more than depressed, I realized more so the truth of the statement. I have exercised for years. I invested in others. I spent time with family. I went on vacations and spent time with friends. Yet I still ended up in a horrible condition. I apparently did not do what was best for my situation. Philippine 4:6-8 speaks of this. The key word is dwell. It is apparent with the many pastors and people I have talked with, having the practical lesson in exactly how to “dwell” is missing. Something happens in the brain and chemistry of the body by doing this. God promises peace in our effort. I am not speaking to those who may have inherited certain traits as depression. That is another topic. Yet this principle can help that condition as well. If your reading this and hurting. I am very sorry and know I will pray for you as others had for me.

Bo Lane is the founder of ExPastors, a community that strives to offer help, healing, and hope for expastors, pastors, and church leaders, and author of Why Pastors Quit. As a media professional with more than 15 years of experience, he has developed marketing and brand strategies that have revolutionized churches and businesses, both large and small. Bo left full-time ministry after serving more than a decade in churches in Oregon, California, and Iowa. He is also a writer, filmmaker, woodworker, husband and father.