Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Depression and the Church

Found this interesting discussion going on at Carlos Whittaker's blog about the Christian Church and depression. What do you think?


SiouxsieQ said...

Hey Dolly --

Love your blog, in case I haven't said that lately.

This was an interesting discussion. After letting it percolate overnight, I think I've figured out my response.

Seems to me that there were two relatively broad categories of response. First, there were those who feel that a depressed person needs to amp up the Christian stuff and all will be well. Second, there were those, often depressed themselves, or family members of depressives, who wanted to emphasize the medical aspect of depression.

If I were going to start a "depression community group" at my church, I would first recruit people who could serve as accountability or motivational partners. This would mean that they would simply assume the majority of the responsibility at first for maintaining the relationship with the depressed person.

Secondly, while I would require some Scripture memory, I would also teach some practical things on how to deal with the kinds of depressing thoughts that plague a person with depression.

Most importantly, I would make it a requirement for each participant to become active in a ministry, on a weekly basis. Something that would take them out of their houses, and out of themselves. This could be working in Kid's Club, or serving on First Impressions (greeting, coffee, etc), or serving a meal at the City Gospel Mission diner each Friday night.

I would think that as we developed and ran through a pilot group I would see the types of ministry that worked the best.

My intention would be to un-isolate the depressed person, with their agreement. Isolation is such a breeding ground for hopelessness, helplessness, loneliness, and depression. I would put into practice, "Attitude follows action."

I would not put out the expectation that becoming involved in ministry would put someone in a spot to stop taking meds, and would not make any promises, other than that connecting with people would have a positive impact on the mental state of a person.

Dollymama said...

Good ideas. Thanks for sharing those. I don't know if all depressed people would have the ability to take on a ministry position. I certainly would not have been able to when I was depressed. I do agree, though, that those that could would probably benefit from getting out of the house and having something different to focus on.

When I read things about depression I find myself wishing that we had different words for the various types of things that all get labeled as depression. There is such a wide range, the mildest type requiring as little as a swift kick in the butt and an attitude change, all the way up to debilitating illness that absolutely requires medical intervention and serious changes/support within the context of the person's life. So much of what I read is way off base for some segment of the depressed population.