After the last post on “Feeling Down” I discovered that the March issue of Christianity Today magazine has a cover story called, “The Depression Epidemic.” I already had the issue but hadn’t read it yet and assumed it was something about the economy.
Turns out that this issue of CT has several articles about a serious emotional and mental health issue that, during the course of our lives, affects 25% of the population with something that is more than “the blues.”
This edition of CT shows why it is important to not automatically assume that depression is only a disease, or only a spiritual problem. Several articles acknowledge the complexity of a problem that can have biological, hereditary, relational, life-experience, and spiritual roots. Also discussed is the under-use or over-use of medication, and the role that churches can play by providing compassionate, understanding, support, community, and careful referrals for those who need more help.
The lead article begins quoting the Psalm of King David who wrote, “Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief. My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak” (Ps. 31:9-10). Author Dan Blazer goes on to say, “But most of us have no idea what David meant when he further lamented, “I am forgotten by them as though I were dead” (v.12). Severe depression is often beyond description.” (P. 22 Christianity Today, March Issue).
Anyway was interested in the way our conversation this week dove-tails with what a lot of CT readers will also be considering.
One more thought. The CT feature on depression also includes an interview with well known preacher and author John Ortberg. Derek Keefe points out that, in addition to his pastoral training, Ortberg has a Ph.D. in psychology and has penned two books on Depression.
In comments titled, “Connecting to Hope,” Ortberg talks about how their church provides HELP (Hope, Encouragement, Love, Prayer) groups for those suffering from mental and emotional health issues. Says that it has developed into a support group for individuals and their families. He adds, “These people will say that the single most important thing for them is to be a part of a community where other people share the same struggles, speak the same language, and are able to bear each other’s burdens.”
Before the interview concludes Ortberg notes an interesting piece of information. He says that a medical sociologist named Janice Egeland has done some research among the Amish community and found significantly less levels of certain kinds of depression than among all other segments of the population. He ends asking, “Is it possible to be in the world… but still part of a community that is alternative enough that it would actually change the incidence of depression?”