The Depression Epidemic

As of this week, there were still a few things at my office that had been “undisturbed” since my son took his life on May 13th.

I finally forced myself to go through a small stack of papers a couple of days ago. Inside that stack was an article I’d printed off on April 10th entitled, “The Depression Epidemic.” The author is Dr. Dan Blazer, Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at Duke University Medical Center. The article was actually first published in 2009, in Christianity Today. Blazer had some really good things to say to those suffering with this sometimes enigmatic malady (Jordan suffered from clinical depression. I was diagnosed a number of years ago.)Blazer, up front, differentiates “clinical depression” from “the everyday blues” i.e. “normal depression.” If you, or someone you know, deals with what you may consider clinical depression, please get help.

Here are a few excerpts from his article: “As familiar as melancholic periods are to us, the depths of severe depression remain a mystery. We may grasp in part the distress of King David: “Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief. My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak” (Ps. 31:9-10). But most of us have no idea what David meant when he further lamented, “I am forgotten by them as though I were dead” (v.12). Severe depression is often beyond description. And when such deep and painful feelings cannot be explained, they cut to the heart of one’s spiritual being. Humans are intricately complex creatures. When things go wrong in us, they do so in myriad and nuanced ways…..Deep depression is embodied emotional suffering. It is not simply a state of mind or a negative view of life but something that affects our physical being as well….However we choose to define depression, both its frequency and its disruption of normal life are staggering. The World Health Organization named depression the second most common cause of disability worldwide after cardiovascular disease, and it is expected to become number one in the next ten years…We also know that distorted thoughts contribute to depression. Those who are depressed do not evaluate themselves accurately (i.e., I am not as good as others). They fear that their selves are disintegrating (i.e., I am falling apart). They depreciate their value to others (i.e., I am of very little benefit to my family). And they believe they do not have control over their bodies (i.e., I just cannot make myself eat)….Finally, no symptom is more central to depression than the loss of hope…When used wisely, antidepressants and cognitive behavioral therapy can restore stability to individuals so that they can better negotiate everyday challenges….[But, in addition, to medicine], 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 does….And thanks be to God, who raised the One who entered fully into our condition, breaking the power of sin, death, and hell, that we not only can name wrecked reality, but also lean into it on the promise that Christ is making all things new.”


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