Depression: Why religious counseling didn’t work for me
AK Owusu-Nyantakyi
52

Excellent article. Very true. Churches in general, even pastors, are not taught how to deal with any form of mental illness, especially depression. You could well have been describing my experience of over 30 years ago, with another church, here in the US, the parallels are so close. I think it’s mostly that very few actually understand depression as different from “the blues”, and think it’s something one can just “snap out of”, when it is, in fact, as much a physical as a psychological problem (due to low serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain), for which there are physical as well as psychological causes, that need to be dealt with, and the lovely “platitudes” that most offer are kind of like trying to douse a fire with lighter fluid or gasoline, in truth. At least, for me, they just brought a deeper sense of shame and failure, the last thing I needed just then, along with greater isolation. It was then that I truly did understand the meaning of “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”. I knew the people meant well; but they couldn’t seem to grasp that they were actually doing more harm, rather than good. I see that hasn’t changed a bit. I left “churches” not long after that, and I’m still “unchurched”; doesn’t mean I left God.

Other forms of mental illness, especially in some churches, are treated as if they’re “demon possessions”, and in some rare cases demon possession may indeed mimic symptoms of some of them; but they are also shunned and/or mishandled out of fear and lack of understanding of the mechanics of the brain disorders. The sad part is that, of all people, Christians should be the most open to them, and the most supportive, yet they’re not; indeed, they’re often the least so.

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