Ever Been Depressed?



When was the last time you read Psalm 88? I'm telling you — there was a man who was really going through some rough water.

I was interviewing a physician recently for a future edition of Pastor to Pastor. She is a delightful lady who had trained in the specialty of obstetrics and gynecology. Her name is Dr. Elaine Eng. In the midst of her training, she was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa that would soon render her sightless and unable to practice as an obstetrician. She re-grouped, took time to be with her family, kept her faith strong and, in time, retrained (as a blind person) in the field of psychiatry. She is this day an accomplished, highly-educated physician and author.

The reason I was reading Psalm 88 was at her request. She wanted to use the challenges of the Psalmist as a tool to help folks like you and me identify issues in our lives that could lead to clinical depression or emotional dysfunction. It was an intriguing interview. As I would read a verse or two, she would stop me and make a comment on the Psalmist's mood swings. Later, she would tell me that from 5-12 percent of men suffer from clinical depression in their lives, and 10-25 percent of women.  She also noted that those who do suffer depression will most likely not seek treatment, even though it is a treatable illness.

We talked about some "tell-tale" signs of clinical depression that included 1) sadness; 2) loss of pleasure; 3) appetite imbalance (eating too much or too little); 4) sleep disturbance (waking a lot at night; never feeling rested); 5) excessive tiredness (burnout); 6) poor concentration (an inability to track or read or listen); 7) negative thinking (self pity, failure, guilt, being paranoid); 8) irrational mood swings (agitated); 9) thoughts of death or suicide (as a way out); and 10) loneliness and isolation. There were others.

Dr. Eng then told me that, if you have five out of these ten characteristics of depression and if the symptoms last for more than two weeks, that might indicate a possible clinical situation. I have been, at one time or another, in that percentage of men who have suffered depression. The sadness and darkness was miserable.

What should you do? The first step to wellness is a physical examination by a physician, prayer with a colleague and openness with your spouse.

One of the most painful expressions from scripture is found in Psalm 88:18, "The darkness is my closest friend." I pray that never becomes your expression.

Source: H.B London Pastor's Weekly Briefing, April 11, 2008

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