Reading Reflections:

Christians Get Depressed Too, David Murray (Reformation Heritage Books,2010)

I have enjoyed listening to David Murray on his podcast with Tim Challies, The Connected Kingdom.  While I don’t follow regularly, I find myself drawn to Murray’s wisdom and humility in speaking.  I recently ordered this book for our church’s library, excited to get a small taste of his writing.  Christians Get Depressed Too is a very small book that handles a very big touchy subject, depression and anxiety, especially among Christians.  This is an exceptionally helpful, well-balanced book that can be read in a day.  Murray tackles some of the major misconceptions on this topic to an audience of both those whose struggle in this area, as well as loved ones who want to better help and understand.  The reader should walk away with a better introduction and awareness to the complexities of depression and anxiety.  He points out that we cannot simplify it into its common extremes of just a physical cause, spiritual issue, or mental issue.  I found this excerpt enlightening:

As the brain is the most complex organ in our body, it is liable to be the most affected of all our organs by the Fall and the divine curse on our bodies.  And as processing our thoughts is the main activity of our brain, we can expect this area at times to fail and break, through no fault of our own, with subsequent emotional and behavioral problems.  That isn’t to deny that a person is responsible for how he responds to mechanical, chemical, or electrical failures and faults in any part of his body.

In these cases, medication is not merely alleviating symptoms, but addressing the causes of depression—its physical causes.  Treating a depressed person with medication is often no different from giving my eight-year-old daughter one of her many daily injections of insulin for diabetes.  I am not merely alleviating symptoms, but addressing the cause—depleted insulin due to dying or dead cells in her pancreas.  And if she is lethargic, weepy, or irrational due to low sugar levels, I do not ask her what commandments she has broken or what “issues of meaning and relationship” she has in her life.  I pity her, weep for her, and thank God for His gracious provision of medicine for her (p.64-65).

As I said, the book is well-balanced so he does get into spiritual and mental issues as well.  But Murray does a good job of pointing out how many Christians cause great harm to people when insisting that depression is only a sin-problem and ignoring physical causes.  He does this in a gentle, loving tone that I could only aspire to.