Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Great Depression

Depression and Faith! What a pair.

I've had two articles appear on the subject within the last two days. There's a new book, The Catholic Guide to Depression: How the Saints, the Sacraments, and Psychiatry Can Help You Break Its Grip and Find Happiness Again, addressing a Catholic perspective on depression with the guidance of a priest and a psychiatrist, Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, MD and Msgr. John Cihak, STD. An interview with the authors is here.
There's no Pez Prozac in real life.

Depression is something that has become quite common in the past twenty or so years. The causes can range from chemical imbalances to trauma caused by loss or pain. While there is adequate counseling and good medical treatment for depression, there is also a spiritual component to depression. In CONJUNCTION WITH good medical and psychological therapy, spiritual growth can come about while working through depression.

When a depressed person comes to me for counsel, I never discredit the medical or emotional side of it. I also don't dismiss the issue as strictly something medicine can fix. I believe that the practice of our faith actually can help with depression. From time to time, I've had some dark days and sticking with the basics of the faith was one of the best things I did. Sometimes prayer and ritual is the most regular thing in my life.

Monsignor Cihak says in the interview (with my emphasis in bold):
If the saints make the divine life a real possibility and a concrete invitation to imitate, then the Sacraments are the primary way that the divine life is communicated to us. Jesus does nothing superfluous, and so the Sacraments that He instituted should be of paramount importance to the Christian. Immersing ourselves in the sacramental life, as well as cultivating a life of prayer and virtue, is what we call “the ordinary means of sanctification”. These means can be of great help in resisting and recovering from mental illness, including depression. It is important to remember that the primary aim of the graces of the Sacraments is to accomplish the work of salvation in us, but we ought not to overly compartmentalize the effects of grace given the unity of the human person. Grace can also accomplish physical and mental healing when it is part of God’s plan for us. In any case, the Lord’s grace is always good for us.
Some call St. Teresa "crazy". We call her "doctor".
Another article was passed on to me yesterday concerning a homily I gave about people claiming to be "spiritual" but not religious.

There was some data collected that shows that people who claim to be "spiritual" but not "religious" suffer from mental illness more than religious people do. Here's a bit from the article:
 Of the participants, 35 per cent described themselves as "religious", meaning they attended a church, mosque, synagogue or temple. Five in six of this group were Christian.
No method. No guru. No teacher. No happy.
Almost half (46 per cent) described themselves as neither religious nor spiritual, while the 19 per cent remainder said they had spiritual beliefs but did not adhere to a particular religion.
Members of this final group were 77 per cent more likely than the others to be dependent on drugs, 72 per cent more likely to suffer from a phobia, and 50 per cent more likely to have a generalised anxiety disorder.
They were also 40 per cent more likely to be receiving treatment with psychotropic drugs, and at a 37 per cent higher risk of neurotic disorder.
The researchers concluded: "We conclude that there is increasing evidence that people who profess spiritual beliefs in the absence of a religious framework are more vulnerable to mental disorder.
"The nature of this association needs greater examination in qualitative and in prospective quantitative research."
I believe that Catholicism is instituted by Christ and meant for our salvation. It is HIS means of bringing us happiness and wellness. Here and hereafter. Why would it NOT be something that is good for our mental, emotional and physical lives?

So, if you're wondering about ditching religion for spirituality or just ditching it all, give a full active practice of your faith a chance. You may not only be made well but holy.

And the fees are cheaper than the $120.00 half-hour hours of your local MD!