April 27, 2016 – Mental health, a priority in our faith walk

Rev. Jeff Gannon

My blog this week centers on the topic of depression. There are so many erroneous notions about depression among people of faith. For example, people of faith have been wrongly taught that if they have enough faith, they would never experience depression. I have had so many people over the years say that they would never take anti-depressant medication because it reveals a lack of trust in God. Again, that notion is genuinely rooted in ignorance and does not represent or re-present faith/trust as described in Sacred Scripture or the church of Jesus Christ.

Our family physician, now retired, had this chart posted on the wall of every examination room. She said it helped her patients name to her they were experiencing many of the symptoms. More often than not, the patient did not self identify as depressed, but the chart helped name it.

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To go a little deeper, this chart is helpful for the person who may not be experiencing depression as a result of a brain chemical imbalance. The most common form of depression is anger turned inward.

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It is vitally important that if you are experiencing the symptoms of depression, please see your physician and begin a treatment plan. If you were struggling with diabetes, you would not hesitate to take medication if the physician prescribed it. People of faith believe God is the giver of all good things, including medication that helps us become whole.

Also, if you are experiencing deep anger, resentment, hurt, please reach out to our staff counselor, Roberta Schouten-Mowery. She is excellent in helping people work through the emotional and relational “knots.” She can be reached at roberta@thecomfycouch.net The first session is free as you discern whether she and you are a good match for counseling.

In closing, we must make mental health a priority in our faith walk. We are whole persons by God’s design. It is not surprising that the Wall Street Journal and New York Times have both named that suicide has reached a 30 year high. The rise was particularly steep among women. Black men and persons over 75 were the only two groups who experienced a decline in suicide rates. The essence of the article is as stated by a professor from Rutgers who said, “….people are turning to self-destructive means of dealing with despair.”

If you are struggling with despair, please reach out. Please do not suffer in silence. Once you seek medical treatment, please begin to read the Psalms. They speak for us when we don’t have our own words. The Psalmist understands despair and reaches out to the God of hope.

Next week….I will focus on suicide and how we cope when a loved one or friend has made the decision to end their pain.

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