Sunday, July 4, 2010

Depression, medication, and hope

Last year Christianity Today had a cover story, The Depression Epidemic, which has several useful articles on a Christian perspective on depression.
The lead article is by Dan. G. Blazer, a Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioural Science at Duke University Medical School.
I liked the article because of its balanced perspective and distinctly Christian dimension. A few ideas from the article:

Humans are complex.
Depression is a complex response of an individual, and not not independent of their interactions with society. We cannot be simply reduced to biochemistry, to brains connected to bodies, to isolated individuals.
Hence, treatments of individuals that focus solely on medication, cognitive behavioral therapy, prayer, or socialisation, will have limited success.
"no symptom is more central to depression than the loss of hope."

The article ends well:
Those who bear the marks of despair on their bodies need a community that bears the world's only sure hope in its body. They need communities that rehearse this hope again and again and delight in their shared foretaste of God's promised world to come. They need to see that this great promise, secured by Christ's resurrection, compels us to work amidst the wreckage in hope. In so doing, the church provides her depressed members with a plausible hope and a tangible reminder of the message they most need to hear: This sin-riddled reality does not have the last word. Christ as embodied in his church is the last word.
I am reading on this subject because I was asked to speak on "Mental health and well being for academics" at a conference on Christ, Culture, and the Academy, in ten days.... More to follow...

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