Depression and Christianity

Before law school, I was educated as a psychotherapist and was keenly interested in depression, among other disorders.  Though it varies in degrees from person to person, it is very  common across the population as a whole. 

A central tenet of my faith is that the Gospel of Jesus Christ brings joy.  Further, our very creation was meant to lead to our joy.  So, why is it that so many religious people suffer from depression?  I've got my guesses, but that's not really the point of this post.  My intentions of writing on this subject is not why Christians may suffer from depression but how they might respond if they are suffering from it.

It seems we have grown into a people who embrace the medical alone as a means of treating problems.  I need to explain two things at this point.  (1) This doesn't mean that I discourage pharmacology.  It is a great blessing to many people.  And (2) the medical model doesn't necessarily mean taking a pill.  The medical model posits that there is some illness that has a cause that can be remedied, and that it is advantageous to remove the cause and eliminate the illness.  This is all well and good most of the time, but what if there is something to be gained from pain?  I recognize this is dangerous ground.  I am not advocating the concept that pain is God's will and that we must always endure it.  I'm just wondering if there are times when can learn something from our pain before we try to get rid of it.

Depression is a type of pain.  Pain is like a language.  Every one knows one, but not everyone can communicate with everyone else.  What if, from depression, we can learn to learn how to speak the language of pain to help others?  Empathy is powerful for all parties involved. Instead of focusing on the darkness of depression, we could focus on how that might be used to understand others' pains.  This is a daunting concept for someone suffering from depression, but it seems it is worthwhile.

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Published in: on April 20, 2006 at 12:12 am  Comments (1)  

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