• Our latest book:

    By Amy and Bernadette
  • Also by Bernadette and Amy:

Marriage and Depression

The Houston Chronicle recently ran a story by Mary Jo Rapini about how depression affects a marriage.  Ms. Rapini did a good job of pointing out what can happen to a marriage relationship when depression is present.

Still, there are other hidden victims.  It might not be a marriage relationship that has collateral damage; rather it might be an elderly parent and the adult child or a person in a gay relationship who can’t understand why the relationship is crumbling.  There might be teachers who are touched by the depression of a child in their classrooms, or a co-worker who has to listen time and again to a depressed co-worker’s tale of woe.  All of these take a toll on healthy individuals, opening the door to depression taking a foothold.

I recently talked to a caregiver who once again had to take her significant other for electroconvulsive therapy.  She was at her wit’s end because, in addition to having to do 24/7 care for four days, she was trying to juggle a job, children, and the other aspects of her life.  She sounded extremely tired, close to tears, and questioning what she was going to do next.  She was talking about everything she was trying to do to stay healthy, but no where in the conversation was the wider community mentioned. This is the community that could bring in meals, take over for a portion of the 24/7 care time so she could sleep or have some time for herself, the community that could babysit or just offer a listening ear.

When will we realize that all of us have to step up to the plate to fight depression?  When will we realize that a healthy community is only possible if we all pitch in? Unless we start stepping up to the challenge, depression will continue to reap its victims as the equal opportunity destroyer it is.  –Bernadette

Harmful attitudes about depression and faith

So I was reading the Kansas City Star this morning (yes, we still receive the paper version – though I can also access it on my  iPad; I’m not a total dinosaur) and with my usual trepidation I reached the “Faith” section. To be honest, I think it’s a little weird for a major-ish newspaper to have a faith section, but that’s life in Kansas for you.  And in the interest of full disclosure, I am a full-time church employee of the lay minister variety.  Much of my life is spent thinking of, acting on, and working with people in the area of faith. But, largely because of the kind of thing I saw in the Faith section this morning, I’m reluctant to discuss that fact with people who aren’t familiar with what I do, how I believe, and the kind of theology my particular congregation practices.

So here’s what was in the Faith section, in a regular column titled “Voices of Faith.” Rev. R. L. Baynham, pastor of Metropolitan Baptist Church of Kansas City was asked “How can one keep faith during times of depression?”  The following excerpt from his answer disturbed me greatly:

“Those who have faith can experience and overcome the places depression takes us. If we believe and trust God and continue to maintain a strong relationship with him then those isues and concerns will dissipate.”


This is the type of thinking that 1)alienates those who have struggled with issues of depression and faith, 2)leads to making depressed people feel that “faith” is just one more thing they’re failing at, and 3)perpetuates the misconception that depression is just a “mind over matter” thing – if you think hard enough, pray hard enough, etc., you can overcome your depression.

This is simply not true. Yes, faith in a loving God can be powerful and help toward healing.  But faith and prayer alone do not heal depression, and lack of faith and prayer does not mean you’ll never heal or that God no longer cares. I shudder to think of all the depressed people and their loved ones, sitting in their living rooms this morning in Kansas City, reading that if they’re depressed it means they’re not praying enough and not faithful enough.

And when I put on my ministry hat, I shudder to think that there are people who haven’t experienced a God who is with them, crying alongside them, holding them up in the darkest of times – whether or not they’re able to pray or even think of God at all.  That is the God I know, and no amount of or lack of extra effort in prayer can possibly affect the powerful love that God holds for every single person ever born.  -Amy

Daring to hope for fast-acting antidepressants.

Over the last several months, I’ve been hearing about initial positive results in testing a new type of depression medication that brings about improvement within a day or two, rather than the typical time frame of two to three weeks for most antidepressants currently on the market.  One of these new medications, ketamine, is a club drug that has also been used as an anesthetic.  In initial trials, ketamine has been so effective that blind studies are becoming difficult; it is too easy to tell who has taken the actual medication and who receives a placebo. Continue reading

Won’t you be my neighbor?


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXEuEUQIP3Q (Mr. Rogers Defending Public Broadcasting)

People laugh when I tell them Fred Rogers is my hero.  But he was the wisest, most loving, most courageous, and most authentic human being I’ve ever “known.” Continue reading

Help for soldiers dealing with depression and other issues

The Center for Veterans Issues is an organization that is to be commended.  Not only do they help returning veterans with finding housing, dealing with post traumatic stress, financial situations, or drug abuse, they are all about treating the entire person and for returning veterans, that often means their families as they struggle to re-connect.  The center has a host of programs operating. Continue reading

No matter the treatment, death can result.


I just finished reading this article about Aaron Swartz and his death from suicide.  One of the statements in the piece gave me pause.  It reads: If Aaron Swartz was like most of the 100 people every day who take their own lives in this country, the biggest thing that likely led to his death was untreated or under treated depression………And at the time the person has taken their life, it is depression that is either not being treated at all, or being treated inadequately.

I’m not sure we can say that.  We might be able to say untreated depression can more quickly lead to suicide but inadequately treated, under treated? Continue reading

Mental illness and the gun debate

Okay, so this post was totally unplanned, and I’ve never blogged twice in one day, but after what I’ve been reading on Facebook, I’m fed up and have to put this out there somewhere…. Continue reading