Depression in a Small Group Member

April 19, 2007 | Comments Off on Depression in a Small Group Member

One of the most difficult jobs of a lay leader is to know when to ignore, when to act, and when to refer. As the shootings at Virginia Tech this week remind us, it’s easy to analyze in retrospect. But how do we do the best possible job proactively?

Christian psychiatrist Grant Mullin has a wonderful website that deals primarily with depression and anxiety. In his April newsletter, he says that the most valuable question we can ask a depressed person is, “Can you shut your mind off?”

Mullin says,

This question can help determine if someone needs medical treatment. The hallmark symptom of chemical imbalance is the inability to stop or control thoughts. When this happens, you can’t stop a continuous stream of sad, down, pessimistic, hopeless or anxious thoughts.

If the person you are trying to help admits they can’t stop the bad thoughts and they feel overwhelmed, then it’s time to consider seeing a doctor.

Mullin also offers a link on his website to a quick and easy tool called “Am I normal?” There you will find checklists of symptoms that a person can compare themselves to. You can print out the lists and take them to a doctor to discuss medical treatment.

Scroll on down to the March newsletter, which asks the question, “Does depression have spiritual symptoms?” Mullins gives tips for dealing with these.

As leaders, we need to be alert to the needs and hurts of our members, and to search for tools to equip us to serve them better. These tools help us.

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