I was a pastor for 23 years, and during that time I often heard parishioners talking about mental health issues like depression. The view was often narrow and uninformed. I heard such statements as, “If you have enough faith, you will not be depressed,” “You just need to trust God,” and many other choice comments.
I remember while dealing with my own depression, a friend and mentor told me to “get over it and quit sinning.” He apparently believed that depression was a sin.
There are a lot of well-meaning Christians who do not understand mental health issues like depression. They do not understand that depression is an illness. Most of these people have never dealt with depression themselves. If they had, I doubt they would ever say such things.
Sadly, there is a lot of ignorance in the church about mental health issues. I took in what my friend had said to me and felt guilty for feeling the way I did. For quite a while, I believed him. When I finally went to a counselor myself, I learned that depression is an illness and not a sin. I also learned that people don’t often get over depression by themselves. Once I learned this, I was able to dismiss such unwise counsel.
Through my own struggle with bouts of depression, I have done some research in the Bible...
Many of us go through life more or less on automatic, making the best choices we can based on the available information. It is only natural for us to want things to run as smoothly as possible. If we aren’t naturally prone to worry, it is easy to brush away concerns about physical symptoms as long as they aren’t too disruptive.
We may put off a physical examination, or ignore something that “isn’t that big a deal.” I have heard many people say they hate hospitals. It makes sense, then, that they would be resistant to a check up that might result in a trip to one.
If we can get past that resistance, and develop a healthy approach to our health care, we can make use of what’s available as appropriate and often get results that help us lead healthier happier lives. The very same can be said of mental health care. But even with all the normalization mental health in the media and schools, there is a lot of subliminal resistance to making use of it.
The Stigma Around Family and Marriage Counseling
It’s not surprising that people still have a negative view of mental health care. Forty years ago, a psychiatric hospital was referred to as “the booby hatch,” “bughouse,” and “funny farm” among other names, and I still hear those terms bandied abou...
How do you know you are experiencing depression? What are the common symptoms of depression? As a professional counselor, when listening to clients describe their symptoms, I am looking for patterns and changes in patterns, as well as a few key words or phrases. What is normal for one person may not be normal for another, but here are few of the most common signs and symptoms of depression.
Most Common Signs and Symptoms of Depression
Change in Mood
Depression is associated with the words “sad” or “down.” While those are certainly aspects of the moods of depression, I also find that feeling “nothing” or “numbness” are just as common.
It is normal to feel different emotional responses to various events in our lives, but unfortunately we push down many negative emotions because they are hard to feel or talk about. We do our best not to dwell on them or think about them. But we can’t selectively damper certain emotions.
The more we numb our negative emotions, we also end up numbing our positive emotions, which can leave a sort of emptiness, hopelessness, and overall numbness. I frequently hear people struggling with depression describe their emotions as mostly empty with sadness mixed in; but these changes can also include mood ...
As a counselor, the vast majority of clients I see have either endured or perpetrated some type of emotional abuse throughout their lifetime. Emotional abuse is quite pervasive, and it is a fairly new topic to be discussed as generations prior would not have even considered the effects of their words or actions qualifying as abusive.
I do want to differentiate right away between someone being an emotional abuser, and someone saying or doing emotionally abusive things. An abuser will perpetually hurt, undermine, or seek to gain a manipulative upper hand over others – whereas the majority of people will have the capacity to say or do something that is emotionally abusive in an isolated situation or circumstance without being a habitual abuser.
We have all at some point or another sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, but repenting and seeking reparation for the wrong we have done is key. However, there are types of people who will continually hurt others and destroy intimate connections with people – whether intentional or unintentional – and their behaviors rarely change for the better.
Emotional abuse may take place in a romantic relationship, a parental relationship, among siblings, on the playground at school, in the office at work, in the pews at church, ...
When I was in my late teens, my mom told me a story once about one of my ancestors. I told her I was feeling “blue” and she proceeded to tell me of my great-great-great-great-grandfather Charles, who reportedly once described how he would get “in his moods” and not be able to shake it. For these occasions, he kept a pile of dirt in his basement.
[caption id="attachment_6292" align="alignleft" width="300"] http://goo.gl/t5wvmX "Handsome Guy," courtesy of andy, CC0 Public Domain, ABSFreePic.com[/caption]
When the moods would hit, he would go downstairs with a shovel and move that pile of dirt from one side of the basement to the other, one shovelful at a time. After a while, he would start feeling better. I have a sneaking suspicion that Charles might have been diagnosed with depression if he had had the opportunity to see a modern mental health professional.
What is Depression?
There is a range of symptoms that fall into the general definition of depression. People often describe feeling “down” or “blue.” Other signs of depression may include having trouble getting out of bed, of finding a reason to live.
Severe depression can be life-threatening, as a person may become dissociated and unintentionally a threat to self or others through inattenti...
I remember my father describing being at the grocery store once. There was a woman with a child who was being unruly. She tried to get the boy to settle down and grabbed his arm, but he screamed and raged all the more. I remember the menacing look on my father's face as he commented a kid who did that in HIS care would only do it once.
Few things can impact us as quickly and as deeply as the anger of our child. We all have our own reactions to it; some weather it and patiently correct, some get angry or violent right back, some feel overwhelmed and emotionally go to ground unable to deal with it. As they are remarkably complex, uniquely formed individuals, there is no one-size-fits-all solution when your children are angry, but there are some tools that will help in most cases.
It's Tough Being a Kid
We’ve all been there, and while a very few of us may have had a completely peaceful transition into adulthood, a great many of us suffered all manner of emotional and physical traumas along that particular path.
When you think for a moment about the developmental phases a child goes through, it makes sense that rage is going to be a part of their emotional makeup. Their capacity to experience it and process it will vary from person to person, based not only on emot...
Being in my line of work, I often get friends and family approaching me about mental health questions. Sometimes specific, but sometimes very general as well and I notice some commonalities between them. Almost everyone wants to know about anxiety, and further, why it seems to be so prevalent in society today.
Are people getting "softer"? Is the world turning towards more and more depravity? Or are we just talking about something that’s always been there?
It used to be that a nervous breakdown was a sort of “snap” that the incredibly overworked person experienced. Shouting “I just can’t take it anymore!” they quit their job and stormed out of the office.
Maybe in the days that follow they began to lose sight of cleanliness and things fell apart. Whispers began back at the office, “did you hear what happened to Steve?” “He just couldn’t take the pressure I guess…” and then life went on.
This is the idea of the nervous breakdown we got from film and media. However, more and more I hear about individuals experiencing what they call a nervous breakdown and we begin to wonder why they occur. Where are all these nervous breakdowns coming from and is there anything we can do to help?
What is a Nervous Breakdown?
First of all, what are we ca...