• How The Bible Can Be Damaging to People with Depression via Patheos Blog

How The Bible Can Be Damaging to People with Depression via Patheos Blog

This is a very good article, but I do have one minor disagreement with it (very minor). I’d like to discuss my area of disagreement, but I’ll do so below the link and excerpts.

How The Bible Can Be Damaging to People with Depression via Patheos Blog by Guest Contributor

Snippets:

As a teen, I read the entire Bible. Twice. Deuteronomy, with rules about weird sores on the body, 1 Chonicles and the list of who “begat” whom, and all. Not one verse helped.

I clung to verses of encouragement as I lay sobbing and screaming into pillows, wracked with internal pain. Hopeless. Pleading for God to help me, to deliver me. I could find only one verse that I identified with: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:45-46).

…“Just have a little more faith,” coach these verses and those who deliver them. “Just think more positively; just hope.” That’s the thing about depression, though: there is no hope.

Depression is characterized by a lack of hope. …

That’s where the verses can get dangerous, in the following three ways.

1) Bible verses keep us from seeking treatment.

When we believe that depression can be overcome by thought changes, we ignore the fact that clinical depression is a medical issue, an imbalance in brain chemistry.

People generally don’t offer someone with a broken leg some Bible verses to heal it; they help that person seek medical attention, and perhaps provide some verses to help the patient’s mood throughout recovery.

Depression should not be treated any differently than another physical ailment.

It’s not just “being sad”, and it’s not a choice.

[snip other items on the list]

…How, then, can a person of faith be helpful to a loved one with depression? If Bible verses and faith won’t help, what will?

1) Accept that you don’t understand and can’t identify with what this person experiences.
The worst time in your life, the saddest you’ve ever been, is miles from what depression feels like.

2) Don’t offer advice.
No matter how well-intentioned, your suggestions will not land well. Also consider that, if this person has had depression for some time, she’s already heard every suggestion you have. She’s likely tried them all, too.

To read the rest of that blog post, please click here to read it on Patheos blog

Here is my only minor area of disagreement – and it’s only a partial disagreement:

1) Bible verses keep us from seeking treatment.

When we believe that depression can be overcome by thought changes, we ignore the fact that clinical depression is a medical issue, an imbalance in brain chemistry.

I was diagnosed with clinical depression when I was a child, and I’ve had it up through my early 40s. I’d say these days, I may still have depression but it does not seem severe as it did before.

Depression and anxiety run through both sides of my family, so there is likely a biological basis for it in my case.

I also agree to a point with the Patheos blog post author that depression can not be purely overcome by thought changes alone, but only with a qualifier: that is true, but not for every one, and I think it’s a matter of degree.

Some people might be helped out of depression via taking medications as well as by thought changes (via C.B.T.).

I’ve already spent a lot of time in older posts on my blog explaining my history with depression, and so I don’t want to go over it again here or later.

Suffice it to say, once I changed my thinking, most of my depression lifted.

So, having a paradigm shift may help alleviate some people with depression.

For many years, I took anti depressant medications under the supervision of the various psychiatrists I saw.

Yes, I experimented, under doctor care, with different dosages and different types, but none of the medications alleviated my depression.

None of the psychiatrists I saw (several over a 20+ year period) ever diagnosed the root of my problem.

The root of my problem was not depression.

The depression was actually a symptom of my root problem: I was extremely codependent.

My parents conditioned me to be codependent from the time I was a child, which amounted to things like teaching me that I am shameful, I have no worth, other people’s wants and needs matter but mine do not, I should allow people to bully me because standing up to bully’s would hurt the bully’s feelings, etc.

After you have spent years being taught you are worthless but that others have value, you’ve been told to repress all anger and just permit others to walk all over you – and all the rest of the trash that comes along with codependency – you will become depressed.

That manner of teaching also increased my anxiety level of people, too.

Later in life, when I began researching the topic of being “too nice” and repressing one’s feelings, lacking boundaries, and so on, this lead me to book titles and psychology pages online about codependency.

Once I educated myself on the topic of codependency and realized that it, codependency, was my problem – not depression – the majority of my depression (and my anxiety) lifted.

Once I learned that my feelings are just as valuable as anyone else’s, that I don’t have to be passive, it’s acceptable for me to stand up for myself when I am being bullied, etc., etc., my depression pretty much vanished.

A change in how I thought about myself or how I thought about other people helped me.

This approach may not work for everyone, but it worked for me.

I do realize that being depressed is not a choice, but a lot of people incorrectly assume it is. Reading Bible verses will not alleviate depression for most people, it sure didn’t help me for all the years I was deeply depressed.

Many people, Christians included assume if a depressed person just focused on uplifting or sun shiny thoughts, or focusing on helping other people (by volunteering at charities and so on), that he or she will just “snap out of it,” but that is not how it works.

I don’t necessarily sit around having happy clappy, positive thoughts all the time to escape depression, but after having read books and blog posts about codependency, it changed (for the better) a lot of ways I think about myself, about others, how to deal with conflict, my self worth, etc., and so on.


More on this blog:

Regarding Grief, Sickness and Depression: Hold Your Tongue and Offer Your Heart Instead by Heather Plett

Dear Ray Comfort and David Barton: Depression is Not a Culture War Battle by Warren Throckmorton

Brain Injury and Phineas Gage

For Most, Jesus and the Gospels Are Not the Answer for Depression, Suicide, and Other Mental Health Maladies (Part 1)

Why Does Being a Woman Put You at Greater Risk of Having Anxiety? by Cari Romm

1 in 3 Protestant Churchgoers Personally Affected by Suicide

For Some of Us Running Is the Key To Managing Depression And Anxiety by Scott Douglas

A Rescue Plan For The Anxious Child by Andrea Petersen

One of the Best Things Churches Can Do for People With Mental Illness by A. Simpson

For Most, Jesus and the Gospels Are Not the Answer for Depression, Suicide, and Other Mental Health Maladies (Part 2)

Non-Church, Non-Spiritual, or Secular Remedies and Treatments Don’t Always Work

The Psychology of Victim-Blaming by K. Roberts

Victimhood, Compassion, and Time Limits

Victimhood, Victim Blaming, and Moving On

Topics and Concerns Under-Reported by Christians or Abuse and Survivor Sites

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