Caring for the Depressed (4): Stigma
Written by David Murray
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Reformed Practice - Depression

There is still a stigma attached to mental illness and to depression in particular. Ignorance and misunderstanding have filled the public mind with many prejudices and falsehoods. As a result, many still view disorders such as depression as a choice or as a sign of weakness or as an excuse to opt out of life.

Depressed people may also share these mistaken beliefs, which increases their sense of guilt and failure. Consequently, they will often be reluctant to admit what they are feeling, resulting in their going for many long months, or even years, without asking for help or seeking treatment.

The church can also help by making clear that Christians do not have to be problem free and by demonstrating that when people do experience problems, they will not be ignored or avoided.

Also, the preacher should present a balanced view of the Christian life, as represented in the Psalms, over a third of which deal with fear, anxiety, and despair. This is part and parcel of normal Christian experience in an abnormal world.

We should remind ourselves again and again: “For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” (1 Cor. 4:7).

This is an excerpt from Dr. David Murray's book "Christians Get Depressed Too." Dr. David Murray is the Professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Before coming to North America, he was the pastor at Stornaway Free Chuch of Scotland (Cont.).  He blogs at http://headhearthand.org/blog.