In his opening address today at the Vatican conference on depression, Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for Sainthood Causes, noted the forms of depression mentioned in the Bible.
"Sadness, lack of interest, diminution of the capacity to work, inability to sleep, loss of weight, guilt feelings, suicidal thoughts, desire to weep" are symptoms which appear in the sacred text, he said at the 18th International Conference of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers.
"If biblical anthropology already knew about the phenomenon of depression, then we can ask what answers the sacred text gives," the cardinal added.
"The answers lie in some fundamental convictions which constitute a remedy: the conviction that man is always loved and appreciated by God, that God is always close to him, and that the world is not hostile to him but good," he said.
"The man who suffers enjoys a privileged place in biblical anthropology and in the Christian message," he said. "God does not forget the sick person, what is more, he is at the center of his compassionate love."
Father Tony Anatrella, a psychoanalyst and psychiatrist from Paris, said that "existential depression reveals a more profound reality that is gaining ground in humanity and that is manifested by the rejection of a consent to life."
"The individual is not sad for any reason, but for himself, because of his inner uncertainty and the absence of personal fulfillment," he said. "The man of today, as well as of yesterday, experiences the need to learn to love life to fulfill himself in his humanity and discover the meaning of his existence."
The congress, which continues until Saturday, is focusing on two key topics: "The Light of Faith in the Universe of Depression" and "What Can Be Done to Come Out of the 'Impasse" of Depression."