Teen Depression: A Helpful Infographic. . . .

This week I’ve had some conversations with friends who are engaged with teenagers they know and love, all of whom are dealing with depression. That’s prompted me to share this infographic from Rawhide.org. In addition, I want to mention two helpful book resources that I’m recommending to youth workers and parents: When Life Goes Dark: Finding Hope in the Midst of Depression by Richard Winter, and Preventing Suicide: A Handbook for Pastors, Chaplains, and Pastoral Counselors by Karen Mason.

To the “How” section at the bottom of the infographic we would add as a first priority getting help from a competent, well-trained, and experienced Christian counselor who understands the dynamics of depression. In addition you want to secure the services of a counselor who sees the Christian faith and the Scriptures as the place for answers and solutions, rather than as a part of the problem. And remember, all-too-often we are quick to medicate as an only treatment. While medication is certainly justified and needed in many cases, we believe that a competent (and I can’t emphasize the word “competent” enough!) Christian counselor must be a starting point.

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5 thoughts on “Teen Depression: A Helpful Infographic. . . .

  1. Walt, I appreciated what you said in your last paragraph regarding the scriptures. This info graphic is disturbing to me. It leaves that out as the most important solution. As I read the scriptures it tells us things like, God has provided us everything pertaining to life and godliness. It tells us things like, scripture is adequate for every good work. I understand that there may be some cases in which medication can be helpful. But medication will never “cure” depression. Only trusting in God and His word will give someone victory over such things. Clearly our society and medical community have lost their way on this matter. They call depression a disorder or disease. They have absolutely no evidence to support such a claim, though they spew it out there as if it is. The real fact is this, we know that without the word of God people lose their minds. It is no wonder, since people have rejected that for so long, especially in “Christian” communities, that we see these kinds of problems increasing. The enemy we face wants to kill us. And he has been able to deceive people into thinking that taking a pill will solve their spiritual problem. So, it’s not a surprise that there is so much so suicide. Paul tells us that our battle is not against flesh and blood, right? Therefore the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but are spiritual in nature founded on the word of God and prayer. You mention “competent” counselors. We have in our church, trained “biblical” counselors. These people have worked with so many others who have deep depression and they have amazing stories of victory through the power of God’s word. I believe that what makes a person competent is when God views them as competent, because they know His word and they are able to help others know it and trust it. This world believes that when someone has a title that makes them competent. That was the same thing in Jesus’ day. The Pharisees thought they were competent. But Jesus called them a brood of vipers. Paul called his own pedigree in all of that training, rubbish.

    Now I’m not suggesting that you are saying something wrong here. In fact, Walt, I love your blog and I use it regularly in my youth and college ministry. You sir, are a blessing! I’m just adding some suggestions to anyone who might read this very misleading infographic, that there is hope always in Jesus and His word. If not there, then we have nothing, right?

    1. Randy, I agree that God’s word is powerful and essential to our lives. However there is a biochemical component to some types of depression which medications can help stabilize. No, medication does not “cure” depression, but neither does insulin “cure” diabetes and I most certainly would not instruct a diabetic to rely fully on the word of God to treat their Diabetes. In addition to their spiritual life they also need to adhere to diet, exercise and medications for management. The same is true for Depression, yes they need a relationship with Christ, but therapy, medications may also be necessary for healing. Downplaying the importance of medication can be a dangerous/life threatening error for someone with depression. As the graph indicates untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide. As a health care provider, I can tell you the stigma that depression carries as well as the reluctance of individuals to take medications for it. Suicide is too great a risk-we need to support them spiritually, physically and emotionally while they struggle.

    2. True depression is 100% a disorder or disease, and I find the information in the infographic to be extremely helpful. It is wonderful that Walt is taking this informed approach to an extremely complicated problem such as depression and mental health disorders on a faith-based site. It is crucial that in order to combat ‘the leading cause of suicide’ we reduce the stigma that surrounds the disease. This is a disease of the mind. And denying so leads to delay in treatment, propagates the sense of failure and guilt and worthlessness of the person suffering, and increases the likelihood that the sufferer will not get adequate or appropriate care. To tell someone that they just need to pray harder or study their scriptures more or come closer to God is not going to help them out of a major depressive episode. If you have ever dealt with depression yourself, you understand that when one is in the depths of depression you often cannot feel the spirit of God. This is not because you are a sinner. This is not because you are not a good Christian. This is because your brain will not let you feel any feelings. There is an empty hole and total apathy. As imperfect and incomplete as medical science may still be, especially when it comes to psychological conditions, many times the only way to get traction is with medication. There are specific neurotransmitters known to be correlated to depression, and medications target these neurotransmitters. Are they perfect, no. But can they help, 100% yes. To dismiss the life-saving therapies that so many have benefitted from is ignorant and reinforces the stigma that is so harmful to sufferers of depression and other mental health disorders. Yes, you should seek spiritual guidance, priesthood blessings, pray like you’ve never prayed before, study your scriptures. But you should also seek professional help when these things are not enough. Professional help meaning trained therapists, mental health counselors, and psychiatrists or other understanding medical doctor. Let’s promote education, hope, health and healing– not ignorance, shame and blame.

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