Thursday, June 19, 2008

Help from a Christian Counselor

An experienced professional I have appreciated recently shared the following about depression:

First and foremost in coming alongside someone with depression, chronic or episodic, is to acknowledge the potential need for both medication and understanding. Too many Christians are opposed to antidepressant meds saying I just need to pray about my depression more.

A great percentage of folks experiencing depression have a biochemical imbalance of serotonin and/or other brain chemicals. "Talk therapy" isn't enough for these folks. Often it's trial and error regarding whether medication is needed. If we try it and the affect [feelings] is [are] getting better after around 3 weeks (which is the time many of the meds take to build up a effective blood level), then it biochemical.

That doesn't mean that there aren't circumstances that need to be dealt with also. Depression is often "anger turned inward." Depressed people need to be encouraged to "express" themselves.

I have an older book, _30 Days to Beating Depression_, that's a good one for identifying all the avenues that need to be explored to get to the root of the depression.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is usually helpful for the depressed. (Changing how we think can change how we feel and behave). What is the person's belief system? How do their beliefs about themselves, others and the world interfering with the well-being?

Two other books that might be helpful which are written from a Christian worldview are: _The Freedom from Depression Workbook_ by Les Carter and Frank Minwirth and _Why Do I Feel This Way? What every woman needs to know about depression_ by Brenda Poinsett*.

Depression needs to be viewed as a physical condition as much as high blood pressure. There are things that cause it; there are things we can do to help keep it down; but we ought not be shunned or ashamed if we need medication.

Depression often runs in families and therefore does have a genetic component.

Depressed individuals need an encouraging support system so they don't isolate themselves which can exacerbate the depression. I'm heading to Rochester tomorrow for a couple of days, but will check my bookshelf at the office to see if I've missed any other good resources.

*Brenda Poinsett addresses what triggers depression quite well in her book. She covers stressful events, loss, chronic stress, overload, pursuit of thinness, unrealistic expectations, lack of meaning, unexpressed emotions and loss of control.

We mustn't forget also that "all our behavior has a purpose" so for the chronically depressed we may want to ascertain "what are they getting out of being depressed."

Regarding prayer for and with the depressed individual: I focus on asking the Lord to reveal any false beliefs they are continuing to labor under about themselves, their worth, who they are in Christ, etc.

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