Here’s a book I’m looking forward to reading. It’s called Christians Get Depressed Too by David Murray. I’m hoping it expresses some of what is needed in the conversation about Christians and depression.
Dr. Wes Bredenhof reviews the book saying this:
“There is a perception out there that depression is, at its roots, a spiritual problem. According to this perception, people become depressed because they have done something sinful. A true and faithful Christian would never get depressed. Part of Murray’s burden in this book is to dismantle that perception. He does that with an open Bible, explaining how godly believers in both Testament struggled with this problem.
The author goes on to outline how complex depression is – there are no trite and easy answers. He describes the problem in a way that will be helpful for those trying to understand it. He also gives hope, comfort, and help for those who are suffering. Again, all of this is grounded in the Word of God. Yes, Murray believes that Christians can learn from medical science and he attempts to incorporate some of those insights into this book. He is also firmly convinced that medication can not only alleviate symptoms, but also address the causes of depression in many cases.”
When God provides means through common grace (via counseling or medicine) to help us in our human state for something like depression, we should accept with thanks. That is God’s grace and healing.
One thing that I’ve often heard suggested from fellow believers as a means to improve depression is a change of diet or to begin taking a particular natural supplement. Sometimes these same people are leery of what modern medicine might suggest for depressed people, like an anti-depressant. There is an irony in this. They believe it valid to change the biology of your body through a new diet or “natural” pill (with no provable tests results showing success), but consider it less valid (less holy?) to change the biology of your body through a drug, that has been tested, peer-reviewed and proven effective for severe depression.
My hope is that this book affords depressed Christians the same love the Lord affords them. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.” Poor in spirit. Mourning. Meek. They are blessed. Let’s learn from depressed people instead of relegating them to “struggling” Christian and taking pot shots at prozac from the pulpit.
There is much to learn about God and ourselves from those who have walked in the dark valleys.
Bredenhoff goes on to say:
“I’ve read and reviewed several books on this subject over the years. I’ve learned that depression is a dark and ugly consequence of the fall into sin. It is no less a part of this world of dysfunction than is cancer. At the same, I’ve learned (and Murray’s book has reinforced this) that depression reminds us of how little we know about the workings of the human brain and how it relates to our non-material aspect (our soul). Finally, I’ve become convinced that God brings trials (including depression) our way so as to shape, teach, and lead us. This little book brings us back to the Word through which that all happens.”
I can’t endorse a book I haven’t read, but the review sure sounds good.
I just read this book a few weeks ago, and I was very impressed. My mom has suffered from a chronic illness for many years, and depression has been at her doorstep often. She is one of the most godly women I know, and to see her struggle so much with depression has helped me realize that it’s ok, it doesn’t make her any “less spiritual,” and treating it medically/holistically is a good thing. We can most definitely learn a lot from depressed Christians…I think they often have a spiritual depth that results from walking in the dark valleys.
I’m looking forward to hearing what you think of the book!
I think a lot of people who are leery of accepting meds for depression get accused of being judgmental when they are really caring about the person. Meds have great risk of harm due to side effects. Our family knows that from experience. Things that you take to help you can hurt you in huge ways, too.
So if there is a way to deal with depression without meds, many of us want to see our families use those instead. Besides caring about those who have suffered from side effects of meds (whether for depression or other things), I have also seen in our family someone who was pretty much left to live in an institution on meds for the rest of her life, who recovered through “spiritual” means.
David and Paul and many others in the Bible went through serious depression and it wasn’t necessarily because of deliberate sins that they consciously committed, yet it was an encounter with the Lord and his Word that brought them out of it.
So please understand that while many people submit to medicine when they have to–for survival, they are not all judgmental when they hold onto the hope of relief from depression without meds–especially after experiences they have had and after reading things like this:
I wonder if the book addresses nouthetic counseling at all.
Many blessings to you for caring about this!
Thanks for sharing that Abby.
I absolutely agree that depressed Christians can have a depth to them that is insightful and helpful for the rest of us because of their time spent in the valleys.. thanks for saying that.
I actually surfed to your blog today and read your thoughts on this book (which I haven’t read either). I thought you might be interested in an article I wrote on “Depression and Christmas” which was published on CrossWalk.com before Christmas. I didn’t tell anyone about it for reasons I’ll keep to myself, but you may enjoy it so I’ll now blow my own horn shamelessly. (Search my name on the Crosswalk site and I think you’ll find it.)