8 Reasons Why Pastors Are Afraid to Talk About Depression

Download Dr. Greg Knopf’s free e-book, “9 Lies About Depression that Hurt Everyone – Separating Fact From Fiction” at www.depressionoutreach.com.

The World Health Organization says, “Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major contributor to the global burden of disease.”

Jesus told us in John 16:33 that “in this world you will have trouble.” So what did He mean?

The greek word “thlipsis” that is translated “trouble” refers to “distress” or “the pressure of circumstances or the antagonism of persons.” Wouldn’t you say most of our heartache comes from either relational conflict or the inability to control our circumstances? 

It is also interesting that Jesus did not exempt believers from what is part of our universal human experience as a result of the fall. Even David, a “man after God’s own heart” cried out, “Why are you downcast O my soul?”

So if having “trouble” and the physical and emotional damage resulting from the trauma is to be expected, why is it believers and non-believers alike hit dead ends when they seek answers in our churches or are looking for help in times of anguish and suffering?

What is hindering the modern church from being responsive to the world’s leading disability?

There are many reasons, but here are at least eight for your consideration:

Don’t Miss

1. Counseling and Medical Treatments Are “Secular.”

There is pressure within many church traditions to limit themselves purely to prayer solutions and admitting otherwise would be seen as a lack of faith. Suggesting people pursue help from a counselor or physician puts them on a path fundamentally antithetical to the purposes and ways God has ordained for us to become spiritually mature.

Seeking help for physical ailments like high blood pressure or diabetes is acceptable, but since depression is caused by emotional and spiritual issues, intervention beyond reading the Bible, confession of sins and prayer is only “treating the symptoms and not the cause.” Unfortunately, when people are limited to only these options, when they don’t find relief, they are told it is because of “lack of faith”—i.e., their own fault. Now they are in a double bind; if they seek medical help, which many need because of biological and genetically predisposed physical hormonal imbalances, they risk the rejection of their spiritual community and support system.

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Gregory M. Knopf MD
Gregory M. Knopf, M.D. was chosen one of Portland Monthly Magazines’ “Top Doctors and Nurses” – 2013. He is an associate clinical professor of Family Medicine at Oregon Health Sciences University and the founder and medical director of Gresham-Troutdale Family Medical Center. He is considered an expert in the understanding and use of anti-depressant medications and how to communicate that expertise to varied audiences including medical professionals, Christian organizations including MOPS, churches, Bible Colleges and Seminaries. He is committed to church involvement and has served in leadership positions and church planting. He and his wife, Bonnie, a talented musician, have three adult children and one granddaughter. He also enjoys tennis, gardening, and organizational development.

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