Beware of simplistic explanations
You’ll often hear people conclude, “Depression is a sin problem,” or, “It’s a physical illness.” Others will say it’s an “emotional response to a stressful event or trauma,” such as with reactive or situational depression. Counselor Leslie Vernick explains why defining depression with these simple statements doesn’t work, can be harmful, and can limit the type of help you offer.
Since depression is complex by nature, what might start out as a response to an event can turn into something more. That’s why in addition to avoiding simplistic assessments about the cause of depression, we also need to avoid simplistic assessments of its nature. Dr. Robert W. Kellemen, a Christian counselor featured in our GriefShare series, explains how reactive depression is not always a bad thing and the importance of differentiating when the process is moving off its God-intended path.
Since there are so many dimensions to depression, we shouldn’t try to define it through a single explanation such as a sin problem, a physical disorder, or an emotional response. Unfortunately, people are still drawn to these common, yet simplistic, answers to the question, “Why is he depressed?” And this in turn limits the type of help offered.
As you care for or counsel a depressed believer, you’ll want to understand and work through the many aspects of depression biblically. This week, CareLeader.org features two articles to aid you in caring for a person in depression. See Sam Hodges’s article 3 Plausible Depression Myths and Jeff Forrey’s post How Pastors Can Help the Depressed.