Saturday, February 1, 2014

"Christians Get Depressed Too"- A Review

I would encourage you to pick up a copy of Christians Get Depressed Too by David Murray.  It is practical, not too thick for the average reader, and can be a helpful overview of depression and Christians for both the person struggling with depression, but also those who are seeking to be caregivers.  Briefly, I'd like to provide a few particular comments regarding the book:

Strengths (and personal "likes")

* I appreciated first of all how courteous Dr. Murray was in writing the book.  If you are not aware, "Christian Counseling" is a broad field with many different paradigms (biblical counseling, integration, Christian psychology, pastoral counseling, etc.) and there is quite a bit of divergence among Christian pastors, counselors and other mental health professionals as to how to approach counseling from a Christian perspective.  (In fact in these last few days, Dr Murray & Dr. Kelleman have been having a friendly back and forth regarding CBT-Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy HERE)  In his book, Dr. Murray was complimentary of everyone, including those with whom he has disagreements. He modeled graciousness so very well.

* The book provides some practical helps in the journey of depression.  For example, as a pastor and a Licensed Mental Health Professional, I have used Psalm 77 often in my counseling work.  Murray provides a great chart using that same passage, walking through that text and using it as a cognitive self-tool.  There are many other helpful examples.  He gives a great list of 10 Cognitive Distortions (as CBT therapists call it), and provides not only examples, but seeks to connect each of these to a biblical character.  While we cannot know exactly what each biblical character might have been thinking, Murray does a good job connecting the reader to helpful examples.  As a counselor who often talks about how cognition affect emotions and mood, this chart alone is worth the recommendation.

*(And perhaps I could have said this first as it appears to be Murray's main focus)-Murray helps the depressed person in this book in practical ways, but in mainly by decreasing some of the "normalizing" the experience of depression and Christians.  The title alone is a helpful focus. 

*Murray's style allows for an easy read and he provides a holistic summary of areas related to depression given that we are indeed both body and soul. 

A Question & Minor Suggestions

*While Murray was kind to his biblical counseling movement brothers and sisters, he does differ from them somewhat, not in their aim, but in their viewpoint.  Murray mentions points of difference from other persons such as Jay Adams and Ed Welch. I was aided in thinking again, even as a counselor with quite a few years of counseling persons journeying with depression, and I am not sure I'd disagree with much that Murray processes.  I do wonder if the "modern biblical counseling" movement most popularized by CCEF is as closed to medicine as perhaps Dr. Murray thinks.  Undoubtedly Murray has researched the topic, so I am only wondering aloud.  I do think he is right in his picture of the early work of Jay Adams, but I wonder if CCEF is moving further towards an increased holistic view.  For example, here is an article that gives further information from Ed Welch (in fairness, written 2 years after Murray's book) CLICK HERE   Murray's view is balanced.  If I had any suggestions, I think in rightly trying to advocate for the use of anti-depressants in some cases, he might have spent another paragraph or two talking about cases where anti-depressants were prescribed unnecessarily.

So all in all, a helpful book--glad our church has it in the library.  If you want a good background on the issue of depression alongside his book, do what Murray encourages his readers to do, and read multiple other books that he suggests...