Can evil spirits cause depression? In the Bible in 1 Samuel 16:14-23, it reveals that a tormenting spirit entered Saul and troubled him (the NLT translation reads a tormenting spirit caused him depression and fear). And Isaiah 61:3 speaks about the spirit of heaviness.
I myself encountered many people who were going through severe depression and have come to the conclusion it was demons. How so? Because when deliverance prayer was employed, the demons in the person would manifest and the person would get some level of relief afterward.
Now, I am not proposing that all episodes of depression are directly caused by evil spirits. We all go through the normal ups and downs of life. I am arguing that depression possibly can be caused by evil spirits. Thus, in such cases, no amount of medication will ever be able to cure depression. Why? Because it is fundamentally a spiritual issue.
The late Derek Prince (1915-2003), Bible teacher, and expositor suffered from depression that he attributed to a spirit, but in God’s grace he was delivered from it:
Yet at time depression descended on me like a gray mist that shrouded my head and shoulders. Breaking out of this mist was like attempting to break out of a prison. I felt isolated and lonely, shut off from meaningful communication, even with those closest to me–my wife and daughters. I did not know any mature minister to whom I could turn for help.
I tried every spiritual means I knew to throw off this depression. I read my Bible faithfully at least twice a day. I fasted one day each week. At times I devoted several days or a week to intensive prayer and fasting. At such times the depression lifted for a while, but inevitably it returned. Each time it did, my hopelessness grew deeper.
I was familiar with Romans 6:11, which instructs us to ‘reckon [ourselves]to be dead indeed unto sin’ (KJV). Day after day I reckoned myself dead to sin and to any consequence of depression that it had brought on me. But I could not seem to experience the latter half of the verse: being’alive unto God through Jesus Christ’ (KJV).
Finally in 1953, when I had exhausted all my own resources, God came to my help in a way I had never contemplated. I was reading the opening verses of Isaiah 61, which describe the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in bearing testimony to the message of the Gospel–verses Jesus applied to Himself in the synagogue in Nazareth (see Luke 4:16-21). As I came to the words in verse 3, ‘the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness’ (KJV, emphasis added)– also called ‘a spirit of despair’ (NIV) and ‘spirit of fainting’ (NASB)- I could read no further. It was as though the phrase the spirit of heaviness was underlined by some invisible hand.
I repeated the phrase to myself: the spirit of heaviness. Was this God’s diagnosis of my condition? Could it mean that the force I was struggling with was not part of myself, but an alien person-an evil spirit being that somehow occupied an area of my mind?
I recalled a term I had once heard but did not understand: familiar spirit. Did it possibly refer to some kind of evil power that attached itself to the members of a family, moving down from generation to generation?
I thought about an aspect of my father’s character that had always puzzled me. He was a good, moral man and a successful officer who had retired from the Army with the rank of colonel. For 98 percent of the time he behaved like the English gentleman he was. But during the fractional two of the time, I had seen something in him quite alien to his own personality. Some apparently trivial incident would upset him and, for as long as 24 hours, he would lapse into rigid, stony silence. He would shut himself off from my mother and would not open his mouth even to say thank you for a cup of tea. Then, with no apparent reason, he would return to his normal, well-mannered self.
With this new insight, I saw that similar ‘dark spirit’ had followed me through my life, from childhood onward. Apparently it had studied my temperament and was familiar with my weakness and my reactions. It knew just when I would be most vulnerable to its pressures. It now had one main objective: to prevent me from serving Christ effectively.
This was decisive moment in my life. I had always regarded my depression and negative attitude as an expression of my own character–something I had been born with. I had felt guilty that I was not a ‘better’ Christian. Now it became clear to me that my struggle was not against part of my own personality at all.
Immediately the Holy Spirit brought to my mind the promise of Joel 2:32: ‘And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered’ (KJV). From my study of Hebrew, I knew this verb also means ‘to save, to rescue.’ I determined to apply this promise and to act on it. I said a simple prayer that went something like this: ‘Lord, You’ve shown me that I have been oppressed by a spirit of heaviness, but You have promised in Your Word that if I call on Your name, I shall be delivered. So I’m calling on You now to deliver me, in the name of Jesus!’
The response was immediate. Something like a huge, heavenly vacuum cleaner came down over me and sucked away the gray mist that shrouded my head and shoulders. At the same time a pressure in the area of my chest was forcibly released, and I gave a little gasp.
God had answered my prayer. Suddenly everything around me seemed brighter. I felt as if a heavy burden had been lifted from my shoulders. I was free! All my life I had been under that oppression. It felt strange to be free. But I discovered quickly that freedom was normal and that oppression was abnormal.
My old enemy did not give up on me; I still had to struggle against depression. But the great difference now was that its attacks came from without, not from within. I gradually learned how to withstand it.
(They Shall Expel Demons, 32-34)
The following is a testimony of another person who speaks frankly of her personal struggles:
“I was baptized in the Spirit about seven years ago. In late June of last year, in a church in Washington, D.C., I received an instant healing of nerve deafness. Then in August my doctor confirmed that I was healed of cysts and tumors in the breasts.
I was top staff member for a Congressman and, while he personally was thrilled with my experience of healing, my testimony was not well received in the political circles in which I moved. In September I resigned from my job and spent the next few months resting and talking with the Lord.
Then in mid-December I became depressed and despondent. The first week of January was horrible! One day I lost my temper. I was here all alone, and it related to a most trivial matter. I realized instantly the sin I had committed– anger. And as I tried to pray for forgiveness in English, I felt choked… not from emotions, but a distinct pressure on my throat– a very real physical force.
A friend suggested that I might need deliverance. So I bought your tapes dealing with deliverance and demonology.
I have always shied away from anything concerning spirits, demons, ghosts and what-have-you, believing that if I left them alone, they would surely leave me alone. I just did not want any truck with spirits and demons! Still, I listened to your tapes on deliverance. I had my Bible on the table and kept pace as you followed through the Scriptures. At the end of the tape, when you gave the instructions to your class, I decided to follow also. Then you started the prayer for deliverance, but the tape ended abruptly–and almost the last thing you said on the tape is, “Remember, Jesus is your Deliverer.”
I did not know what to expect or what to do. So my prayer to the Lord was that I didn’t know what to do, but that since He was my Deliverer, I was committing myself completely to Him. I named those things not of the Lord that I felt were evil and sinful and which I did not want to be part of me- resentment, unforgiveness, doubts, anxieties, fears, etc.
As I have said, I didn’t know what to expect. Within a very few minutes, not more than two or three, I began to heave and gag in the most desperate kind of way. After about then minutes or so, I felt that my abdominal region would never be the same! But I did not feel or believe that I was completely released. Then I asked the demons or spirits to name themselves and I commanded them to come out. This did not happen. Why, I don’t know.
Then I asked the Lord to tell me if there were more, and what the names were, so I could ask deliverance from them. The first one was suicide, and the force was something terrific. I felt it all; the way to the top of my head. I felt some release, but not completely. I asked the Lord to tell me if there were more– and I was told it was the deaf spirit. The deliverance of that was fantastic! It lasted longer than anything else, and the force actually pulled my abdomen to my back, and I physically felt the violent uprooting of my stomach, and in this also I felt the pressure in my head.
I am completely released, and ever since have known such a marvelous peace.”
(They Shall Expel Demons, 161-162)
I would say if you are really depressed and were involved with the occult, witchcraft, or the New Age, then it is likely demonic. Occultly subjected people frequently begin to have signs of all emotional disturbances when they begin to think about surrendering their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is not uncommon for the enemy to retaliate. The enemy will resist the person from turning to the Lord or living for Him.
The following are examples of those who became depressed after delving into the occult or New Age activity:
Ex. 16. There was a woman who was a fortune-teller, and rejected everything to do with the idea of God. One day a Christian girl was introduced to her. When the girl heard about the woman’s strange business of fortunetelling, as a joke she held out her hand. She thought that there was nothing in it. The woman read her palm. The girl laughed and could not stop herself making a facetious remark. However, afterwards the Christian girl suffered from depressions and lost her faith. The fortune-teller’s children also exhibited the typical effects. They were all neurotics, living immoral lives. As I said, here we see the typical characteristics of the effects: depression and loss of moral inhibition.
Ex. 32. One pendulum practitioner casts spells over warts, corns, goitres, aid eczemas etc. Added to this he experiments in the field of death magic. He also asserts that he can either make people sick or heal them. A Christian woman, who knew nothing of his magical powers, thinking that he was only a nature healer, went to him for treatment. In the waiting room she prayed silently. Suddenly he addressed her and said, “You can go home. I can’t help you.“ In spite of this, the woman began to have attacks of depression and thoughts of suicide. Her husband, who had no clear relationship with Christ, was treated magically by this same pendulum practitioner. The children born of their marriage since this treatment have all been affected and burdened. It is also worth noting that a doctor nearby sends some of his patients to this pendulum practitioner. These three examples indicate that dowsing can paralyse a man’s desire to pray, while on the other hand the prayer of a believing Christian can paralyse dowsing. The woman praying in the waiting room prevented the magic pendulum practitioner from working. The power of the Holy Spirit and mediumistic abilities are mutually exclusive. Finally we will mention the definite effects of using a pendulum. We will be dealing not so much with the effects on one’s Christian life but rather with authentic medical disturbances.
Ex. 125. A Christian woman interceded for another woman suffering from depressions. Afterwards the depressions completely left the second woman and she became a happy and normal person again. However, from then on the woman who had prayed for her had strange experiences at night. She had the feeling that there was somebody in the room who wanted to kill her. Her whole body shook and she was terribly frightened. Finally she prayed and commanded the power of evil in the name of Jesus to depart. The evil force then disappeared and troubled her no longer.
Ex. 151. A young woman accepted the invitation of one of her friends to attend some spiritistic meetings. At first she felt as though she gained something from going along to the meetings but later on she began to notice some psychic changes taking place in herself. She began to suffer from depressions which resulted in her consulting a neurologist. During the course of the treatment she was committed to a mental hospital. But now her condition improved as she could no longer attend the spiritistic séances. At the hospital the chaplain came to see her and through his help and counsel she was able to make a complete recovery. Having come within the sound of the Word of God the young woman had learned to trust and follow Christ. She was released from the hospital within a matter of weeks as cured and since that time there has been no recurrence of the illness.
Ex. 12. A young Christian man told me of his time in the services. He had been a corporal in a unit where the staff sergeant had laid cards for all the NCO’s. At first the corporal had objected to the fortune-telling but finally he gave in to his superior. The card-layer prophesied that he would receive news of a death the following day, and that he could also expect a money-order in the near future. As a matter of fact, the next day he heard that his uncle had died, and five days later he also received the predicted money. The parents had never been in the habit of sending their son money. It was a unique event. After this session with the card-layer [tarot?], the corporal experienced depressions and his prayer life was disrupted. He had then gone to a Christian man for help and after the man had prayed and laid hands on him, the serious emotional disturbances disappeared completely.
The following is an example of one having such a spirit because of the sins of his ancestors (generational curses):
A Christian man once told me the following story. His great-grandparents had practised magic. As a result of this his grandparents had developed mediumistic abilities. His grandmother had suffered from depressions and had had an irritable and selfish nature. Her psychic disturbances had finally led to her being committed to a mental hospital. The trouble reappeared in the next generation, in the generation of the man’s parents. When however, the man’s father actually turned to Christ all the symptoms of compulsion and other psychic complications disappeared. The man himself had suffered as a child from depressions but when he too became a Christian he had been completely delivered. But it was concerning his son, the fifth generation, that he gave me a really detailed account. The father told me that the son had been quite a normal child up till the age of eighteen. It was then that the disturbances of his ancestors began to appear. At first it had only been a matter of depressions, but later on he began to fear life itself. His depressions would come and go and would be followed by times of various obsessions. He would have to kneel and pray for hours and then have fits of frenzy in which he would beat his own parents. After such outbursts he would run off into the woods and roam about for days on end until he finally collapsed of exhaustion. He was usually brought home by the forestry workers. Because of the condition he was in, he lost his job. The next step was that symptoms of schizophrenia appeared, and he would hear noises in the house and also see lights and hear voices which told him not to obey his parents. It was under these conditions that his parents were compelled to send him to see a psychiatrist who diagnosed him as being an incurable high-grade schizophrenic who needed to be committed to an asylum. Instead of taking the psychiatrist’s advice, however, the father got some of his friends together in order to pray for his son. He also took the boy to a Christian convalescent home and there he was counselled and prayed with every day. At first the effects were negative and the patient was plagued with religious delusions. He would kneel at a bench in pub is for hours and pray, and this happened not just once or twice, but many times. Then a second prayer group was formed for him at the home, and after a few weeks a slight improvement was visible. At the end of six weeks the young man’s mind suddenly became completely clear at one of the counselling sessions. His compulsive behaviour stopped immediately and after another two weeks he was allowed to go home as cured. He was able to take up his old job again and today he is the chief construction engineer of a large firm and continues to live the life of a truly born again Christian. A man, who in the eyes of the psychiatrist was incurable, had been healed by the power of Christ. There are two things that come to light in this family’s history. The first is that following the practice of magic by the ancestors, the descendants suffered in many ways from emotional and psychic disturbances. The second fact is that when any of the people involved turned their lives over to Christ they were freed from the powers that had once held sway over them. The power of Christ to perform miracles is not dead. Where medicine fails Christ can still be of help. With God there is no such thing as a hopeless case. A doctor who had practised a lot amongst Christians once remarked, “One must always be careful when making a diagnosis in the case of a Christian. Even if today they are at death’s door, you may tomorrow meet them at your door both happy and well. Their faith results in the unpredictable, and well-established medical concepts can often go by the board. You never know where you are with such people.”
(Kurt Koch, Between Christ and Satan)
Whether your depression is directly caused by the enemy or not, know that there is hope in the Lord Jesus Christ:
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
“Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:” – John 20:21-22
“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” – Colossians 3:15
“Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.” – Philippians 4:4
“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” – Romans 15:13
“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” – Isaiah 4:10
You may want to read Freedom of Occult/New Age Bondage.
A prayer against the spirit of depression
“Heavenly Father, I know that you have a good plan for my life that is meant to prosper me and not harm me, and to restore hope for my future. Today, I make a choice to rise up in that hope and use the anointed blood of Jesus Christ as my weapon. I release the blood of Jesus Christ over every spirit of darkness associated with the strongman of Heaviness.
I bind the spirit of depression that is harassing me in the name and blood of Jesus Christ. I bring all prayers, thoughts, and words that have been spoken over me, or by me, under the judgment of Christ and declare to every spirit attached to these words that you are subject to the blood-covered judgment of Jesus Christ.
I loose love, joy, and the peace of God that defies all understanding over me right now in the name of Jesus. I make a choice today, to meditate on you, your truth and your word. I will no longer listen to the lies of the enemy. I pray all of this in the name of Jesus Christ! Amen.”
If you don’t know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you can receive Him into your heart, and He can deliver you from darkness and sin and have your name written in His Book of Life.
If you are sincere, you can say this simple prayer to the Father (it doesn’t have to be word for word):
“God, I recognize that I have not lived my life for You up until now. I have been living for myself and that is wrong. Please forgive me of all of my sins just as I forgive others. I need You in my life; I want You in my life. I acknowledge the completed work of Your only begotten Son Jesus Christ in giving His life for me on the cross, I believe in my heart Jesus is Lord and was raised from the dead and I long to receive the forgiveness you have made freely available to me through this sacrifice. Come into my life now, Lord. Take up residence in my heart and be my king, my Lord, and my Savior. From this day forward, I will no longer be controlled by sin, or the desire to please myself, but I will follow You all the days of my life. Those days are in Your hands. I ask this in the Lord and GOD Jesus’ precious and holy name. Amen.”