Describe and diagram how depression develops and is to be alleviated

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					Please note: I am posting the answers to the NANC Counselor‟s Examination essay questions so that I
can both benefit the Kingdom and so that the others can offer wisdom, support and insight. Please feel
free to send me critiques and comments. If you wish to quote this document, please give proper
attribution and author credit.
Sincerely, Lee P. Esbin, leecedar@hotmail.com


15. Describe and diagram how depression develops and is to be alleviated.
        Depression… in 2005, more than 27 million Americans took prescription drugs to combat it,
making them the most highly prescribed classification of medicines.1 According to Professor Gordon
Parker, “this is because current criteria are medicalising sadness.”2 A 2007 Washington Post Article
says that based on a research study published in that same year, “Up to 25 percent of people in whom
psychiatrists would currently diagnose depression may only be reacting normally to stressful events.”3
Professor Parker and the researchers, without realizing it, are catching on to a biblical truth: using
emotional feelings as a measure of disease only adds to patient numbers, and does nothing to solve the
problem of a sin-sick person.
        While an organic illness can be the impetus for feelings of sadness, the feelings commonly
described as “depression” often come from a chain of sinful actions and reactions. Contrasted with
secular psychology‟s classifications of depression is the saying, “Depression is anger turned inward.”


             Blowing Up                                                        Clamming Up
                 (ventilation)                      Problem                       (internalization)

                 Anger is released                                                  Anger is released
               toward others or the                                                   within self
                 situation without                  Anger
                      control


        Jay Adams wrote, “Consider the chart above. The problem is the trigger for the counselee‟s
angry reaction. Non-biblically, the emotional energy fails to solve the problem in both instances, since


1
  “Is Depression Overdiagnosed In America?,” National Public Radio, February 5, 2010,
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=123410032
2
  “Is Depression Overdiagnosed? Yes,” Gordon Parker, British Medical Journal, August 16, 2007,
http://www.bmj.com/content/335/7615/328.full
3
  “Criteria for Depression Are Too Broad, Researchers Say - Guidelines may encompass many who are just sad,” Shankar
Vadantam, Washington Post, April 3, 2007
it is not released in the direction of the problem but rather (a) toward others or (b) toward oneself. Both
of these responses are wrong.
        While clamming up directs emotional energies destructively against one‟s own self, injuring his
own body and making him miserable, it also hurts one‟s relationship to others.               They allow problems
thus to come between themselves and others; that is to say – they are in an unreconciled condition.”4
        Once this sinful response is initiated, the downward cycle begins. The person gets more sullen
and withdrawn; this generates more problems, and then the person reacts (usually sinfully) to those
additional problems.
                                                                         Dr. Robert Smith describes this cycle.
                                                                “Depression starts with a failure to handle
        Original Problem
                                                                problems as God desires. Each wrong (we
              OR

           Additional
                                         (Additional) Sinful
                                             Response
                                                                would say „unbiblical‟) response makes it easier
          Complicating
            Problem                                             and easier to make further wrong responses.
                                                                There is a build up of wrong choices.
                                                                         Sinful responses to problems will always
                                                                produce additional complicating problems; and
                                                                that unchecked cycle can lead to depression (as
        Additional Sinful                   Additional          we will define it.) Each day, as the person faces
           Response                        Complicating
                                             Problem
                                                                new issues, he carries with him all the
                                                                unresolved issues of the past. Every time the
                                                                person chooses not to apply biblical steps to
work on daily problems, the more difficult it becomes to do so with other problems. As the downward
spiral progresses, the cycle becomes tighter and tighter as daily unsolved difficulties increase.”5 He then
defines depression as Biblical Counselors should view it: “Depression is a debilitating mood, feeling, or
attitude of hopelessness, which becomes a person‟s reason for not handling the most important issues of
life.”6 As the Word says, “The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of
his sin. He dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly he is led astray.”7



4
  The Christian Counselor‟s Manual, Jay E. Adams, pp. 350-351, Zondervan Publishing, 1973
5
  The Christian Counselor‟s Medical Desk Reference, Robert Smith, p. 204, Timeless Texts, 2000
6
  Ibid., p. 205
7
  Proverbs 5:22-23
        Based upon this, we can see that depression, as opposed to sorrow, IS sinful. It violates God‟s
commands in His Word to be brave in the Lord8 and filled with hope.9 The Christian walk should be
marked by joy and dwelling upon good things,10 not miserable, dwelling upon problems and
compounding them.
        How do we help our clients alleviate their depression? There are two ways. First, instead of
dwelling on the feelings of misery, we counsel them to focus their reaction on the problems themselves.
When problems are handled in a Biblical fashion, then even if the situation itself is not resolved, the
attitude of the believer is changed. His mind is renewed and no longer like the sinful man of old.11


                                                                                           No
        Original Problem                         Biblical Response                         Complicating
                                                                                           Problems

        In our counseling, Adams has a prescription for us to follow in order to help our “depressed”
clients to the right path. “(1) Counselors should check out complicating problems and set the counselee
to work on dealing with these God‟s way. (2) Next, check out all factors and/or life pattern(s) that may
have led to the sinful reaction to the initial problem, urge and help the counselee to take biblical action
in the power of the Spirit to replace these patterns (put off/put on) with biblical ones. (3) The counselor
must explain clearly the dynamics of depression to the counselee and set out for him (or her) a plan to
attack the sinful tendencies of the human heart that would surrender to feelings rather than follow the
path of Christian responsibility.”12
        Using the medical model of a prescription against depression, Steve Lehrer wrote, “This biblical
prescription will help you to treat the cause of your depression and in the process the symptoms will
certainly be alleviated. (1) Take a dose of realism. (2) You must immediately follow that by taking a
large spoonful of sovereignty (if you just have realism without joining it with sovereignty you are sure
to get an upset stomach). (3) Get involved in the therapy of thanks immediately. (4) Administer
several shots of Scripture to yourself daily.



8
  Psalms 31:24
9
  Romans 15:13
10
   Philippians 4:4-8
11
   For a further discussion of this, See my answer to Question 14, or http://www.docstoc.com/docs/69884814/Explain-the-
significance-of-Eph-417-25-and-similar-passages-for-Biblical-counseling
12
   The Christian Counselor‟s Manual, Jay E. Adams, pp. 378-379, Zondervan Publishing, 1973
           Simply following the prescribed steps will not necessarily cure you of depression. Depression is
a spiritual problem and only the Spirit of God can truly provide a cure. You must pray that God will give
you repentance and joy and then you must “sweat for Jesus.” That is, you must strive to live faithfully
and obediently. God can move mountains, but you must pick up your shovel and start digging!”13




13
     “A Biblical Prescription for Depression,” Steve Lehrer, http://idsaudio.org/ids/pdf/applied/depressionRX.pdf

				
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