Pastor Vicky asked me to talk a bit about mental health a few weeks ago and I wanted to include this info this week in our devotional. Self care is so important and it's an issue close to my heart. If you have any questions, please contact Meghan DeGregory.
I have been a psychiatric nurse for 17 years and have worked in the mental health field for nearly 25 years. When I was asked to speak about mental health and faith and how they may blend together, I was all for it.
We are all broken in some way. The Bible teaches it. That’s why we need Jesus. A lot of what mental health treatment is simply acknowledging it and allowing people who have been trained to help us.
According to a study conducted by Harvard Medical School one in four adults in the United States deals with clinical depression. It’s not as uncommon as you’d think.
Mental health conditions can be linked with a variety of things including depression, anxiety, suicide, PTSD and alcohol and drug issues and other conditions
Depression and anxiety are the most commonly diagnosed mental health disorders in the US and it has become a more prevalent issue in this past year.
Have you noticed that you have been experiencing low mood, irritability, changes in sleep and appetite patterns (too much or too little), suicidal thoughts, or poor focus- or a loss of interest in things you normally enjoy?
During this time of year often people report having a sad mood and feeling “down”. Often we talk about this as seasonal depression or the blues, but it can be linked with the holidays as well. This year has been exceptionally taxing on our wellbeing as we have dealt with multiple stressors as a nation and even worldwide. Feeling isolated and fearful can contribute to potential for depressive episode.
Have you felt sad or uncertain, melancholy?
Or have you noticed a racing heart, fearfulness, feelings or of impending doom, shortness of breath or chest tightness at times? This can be related to anxiety….If so, you may want to consider seeking out professional help
PTSD can be connected to any traumatic event such as a childhood of abuse, an isolated incident of violence or witnessing a traumatic event. Military personnel can be affected by this as well, but it’s not only related to military. PTSD can lead to drug or alcohol abuse or poor functioning.
Mental health and alcohol and drug abuse can be triggered by genetic predisposition, trauma, and stressors. Those pre- disposed to and conditions can develop abuse or addiction in a manner that others who are not predisposed would not.
How many opioid abusers started as someone who had an injury and were prescribed treatment in a legitimate fashion ? How many alcoholics started drinking alcohol as a coping skill, but then it got out of hand?
If you are struggling with mental health issues or find yourself using substances excessively to help you cope with life, we encourage you to go to your church leadership or a therapist to “unpack” these things. To learn coping skills which are so beneficial in dealing with life and all of the things it brings.
If you are not sure if you need mental health treatment, but are even thinking about it, do it! Odds are if you are thinking about it, you may need to at least explore this as an option.
If you have a history of trauma, abuse, depression or anxiety, did not learn coping skills or could brush up on coping skills, you should consider getting professional help. If you need to have an unbiased discussion on topics that you need to explore, you should consider it as well.
Suicide is the 10th most common cause of death in the US and this year the prevalence of suicide has increased due to isolation and loneliness and depressive episodes.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, it is imperative that you seek treatment. If you have suicidal thoughts with a plan or intention on acting on these thoughts, you should call your medical provider or go to the Emergency room to ensure safety. Likewise if someone you love is experiencing these as well.
Do not be fearful of talking about these things, we all need a safe place to Process things and I’m a firm believer that everyone would benefit from therapy at some point in their life.
Finally, we will talk a bit more about this in the coming weeks, but know that Jesus says He came to give us life abundant. God does not want us to suffer and He does not want us to feel alone or isolated.
Please consider talking to church leadership if you are at all concerned about anxiety or depression or any of the other issues we discussed today.