I failed you, and today I’m asking for your forgiveness. As a professional in the mental health community, and as a leader in the church, I am seeking your forgiveness because I believe that we have let you down. Oh, it wasn’t intentional, believe me. But even Scripture says, “my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6).
Almost every single a day I encounter someone struggling with depression either coming through the doors of my private practice, emailing or messaging me, or meeting me in person for coffee to share the depths of the darkness of their depression with me.
Depression to be greatest epidemic worldwide
Most people don’t realize it, depression will be our greatest epidemic worldwide. It already is our greatest cause of disability worldwide. One out of every ten American adults is diagnosed with depression each year, and one in four will be diagnosed at some point in their lifetime. Yet sadly, it is estimated that this number will increase by 20% every year. And it’s not just in the world—it’s even within the church. Some sources say that 70% of pastors fight depression, (see Charisma: Why are so many pastors committing suicide?).
Because of that, I feel the need to ask your forgiveness. As a neuropsychologist with almost 25 years of professional experience in the medical and mental health fields, and as a Christian and a leader in the church, I feel we have failed. We have missed the mark and been approaching things wrong if these numbers are increasing. We of all people should have the answers. Yet, again, scripture clearly states in Hosea 4:6 that “my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.”
Did you know? Even Christians get depressed
Can I tell you a secret? Lest you think this is just a problem “out there,” even Christians get depressed! How do I know this? Because I was one of them. I had been a Christian mental health provider treating patients with a variety of medical and mental health conditions for two decades when I experienced debilitating depression myself. So all the degrees and alphabet soup after my name wasn’t enough to safeguard me against this debilitating condition.
Bible greats also suffered from depression
But if my own story isn’t convincing enough, we only have to turn to the Bible and consider Elijah, Jonah, Job, or David for examples of Biblical greats who suffered from depression to know that even those who love and serve the Lord are not immune to this devastating condition. I’m so grateful for the Bible’s account of their stories so that I didn’t feel like I was the only one.
But here’s the thing. When I fell into the valley of depression, I knew what to do. Or so I thought. I tried all the same treatment recommendations that I had suggested to my patients for almost 20 years. I tried therapy and even medication. I ate healthy, exercised, and ensured I got enough rest. I want you to know, all these treatment strategies helped– but they weren’t enough to truly eradicate depression from my life.
Experiencing true freedom by addressing spiritual side of depression
When the depression continued, I cried out to God to either take me home, or show me what was missing. What was I doing wrong? It was then that God opened my eyes to the fact that we MUST address the spiritual component of depression if we want to experience true help, hope, and healing. Once I recognized that and cooperated with God to address the spiritual side of this devastating condition, I found true freedom from depression.
Now, I address everything differently in life. I talk to myself differently. I parent differently. I counsel patients from this new perspective. It has truly changed my life. I believe that it’s not too late to reverse the trend. I ask your forgiveness for not recognizing this crucial component earlier in my career, but when God opens the doors for me to share what He has taught me now, I will walk through them, because this is good news that is too good to keep to myself.
Scripture says the enemy is defeated by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony. God has blessed me with insights to break the bondage of depression, and I will gladly share that testimony. In fact, I have done so in my book “Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression”. I wrote that book largely as a resource that would extend beyond the four walls of my private practice. As a result of reader requests, I then wrote the Hope Prevails Bible Study companion which just released October 25, 2017 to take readers deeper into the Word for greater help, hope, and healing.
There is hope and help for depression
People need help and hope more today than ever. Pastors and ministers, counselors, therapists, and coaches need to know how to address this growing problem from a Biblical perspective. I regret that I didn’t know this earlier in my career, but now that I do, there is no turning back. When God gives me the opportunity to share it in writing or speaking venues, or in my private practice, or even in person over coffee, I share from my own testimony the keys that I think will help set people free from depression and reverse the growing trend. And to those who have ears to hear, I pray they will listen—for their own benefit and for those they love.
Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
For a Free eBook on How to Help a Depressed Loved One, click here.
The Hope Prevails Bible study is now available!
Are you or is someone you love experiencing depression? The Hope Prevails Bible Study book offers tangible help, hope, and healing from someone who’s been there and has come out on the other side.
In this Bible study companion to Hope Prevails: Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey through Depression, Dr. Bengtson, a neuropsychologist with over 25 years of experience, shares both her clinical expertise and her own personal journey through depression.
Dr. Bengtson’s personal experience is interwoven with questions for reflection, key thoughts, music playlist suggestions, resources, plus a leader’s guide.
This Bible study can be used as a companion to Hope Prevails or independent study by an individual or is perfect in a small or larger group study. Useful for churches and counseling practices.
“Authentic connections, raw insights, and powerful truths. A great resource for individuals that would be highly beneficial to both church and counseling groups.” ~ Pastor Debbie Kitterman, Founder, Dare 2 Hear Ministry