Promoting PErsonal Change, Centered on the PErson of Christ through the PErsonal Ministry of the Word
Biblical Counseling Coalition: Grace & Truth

4 Spiritual Blessings to Be Thankful For

4 Spiritual Blessings to Be Thankful For

Choosing to Be Thankful

We live in world where people are concerned with their rights above their responsibilities. We can observe where people are focused on what they have been denied or what they believe they deserve. As a result, we do not see a lot thankfulness or people being grateful for what they have received. This can lead to an attitude of grumbling or complaining.

We as Christians are called to do all things without grumbling or complaining. We are called to give thanks in all things. The reason we can do all things without grumbling or complaining and  give thanks in all things, is because we serve a God who is working all things together for our ultimate good (transformation into the image of Jesus Christ). We serve a God who will never leave us nor forsake us. We serve a God who will not only give us situations to endure, but blessing to enjoy!

Let me suggest to you four spiritual blessings we can choose to be thankful about in this Thanksgiving season.

# 1: We have access to fullness of joy and pleasures forever.

Psalm 16:11 reveals that through relationship with God we have access to His joy and pleasure. The more we obey God for the right reasons; He will allow us to know Him intimately which leads to joy and pleasure in our fellowship with God. God is limitless with the joy and pleasure we can enjoy through our genuine relationship with Him. Let us rejoice and be thankful for this benefit we have in Christ Jesus our Lord.

# 2: We have access to the wisdom of God for life issues.

James 1:5 tells us that if we lack wisdom from God in how to handle the trials we encounter, we can ask God in faith and He will provide wisdom. In other words, if we believe that God is and that He is the rewarder of those who seek Him, we can expect God to give us the insight we need to handle the situations we encounter. Because we have a relationship with God, we can always receive what we need in order to operate in a manner worthy of God. God wants us to have this insight and is willing to give it to us. This privilege comes because we have a covenant relationship with God. Let us rejoice and be thankful for this benefit we have in Christ Jesus our Lord.

# 3: God supplies us with things in this life to enjoy.

In 1 Timothy 6:17-19, Paul explains that if we have more than what we need, we are to be willing to share because we know that God gives us all things to richly enjoy and share. We tend to move past the enjoyment part to the sharing part. God wants us to enjoy as well as to share. He provides us with things to enjoy, not to depend on above Him, but to be willing to share with others as we trust in God. Let us rejoice and be thankful for this benefit we have in Christ Jesus our Lord.

# 4: As Christians we have an inheritance in heaven waiting for us.

In 1 Peter 1:1-4, Peter reveals that we have an inheritance in heaven that is being reserved for us who belong to Jesus Christ. This inheritance will not fade and is imperishable. In other words, neither time nor choices of others or ourselves can cause us to loose this inheritance. It is our gift forever! This gives us something to look forward to as we anticipate the end of our journey in this world and prepare for our destination in the next world. Let us rejoice and be thankful for this benefit we have in Christ Jesus our Lord.

For Reflection…

May we learn to endure the trials of life, while we enjoy the blessing of life, as we seek to live for Jesus Christ in this life and the life to come. May we learn to give thanks in all things knowing God is causing all things to work together for our ultimate good.

Join the Conversation

How can you apply these four thanksgiving truths to your life this thanksgiving season?

Topics: BCC Exclusive, Christian Living, Faith, Hope, People in Need of Care, People Who Offer Care, People Who Train Caregivers | Tags: ,

3 Spiritual Disciplines for Dispelling Defeating Doubts

3 Spiritual Disciplines for Dispelling Defeating Doubts

Feelings of Inadequacy at the Moment of Ministry

The last worship song concludes, and I am being introduced. I am about to stand in the pulpit of an internationally renowned expositor of the Word of God. Over a thousand people are sitting in anticipation of a timely, meaningful Word from God.

Messages of defeat floods my mind. Who am I to stand before these people? I do not have any real claim to fame. Am I prepared enough to capture their attention, change their lives? Will I misquote a text, stumble over or forget one of my points?

My emotional energy drains as visions of utter failure replaces faith with fear. Feelings of inadequacy!

Are you confronted with your inadequacy at the moment of ministry, whether public or private? How do you recover at the critical moment? Over the years, the following three spiritual disciplines have helped strengthen me and increase my faith.

Remembering My Identity in Christ

I am a child of God, gifted by the Spirit of God for the benefit of the people of God and the glory of God (Ephesians 1:3-14; 4:11-16; 1 Peter 4:10-11). I reflect upon God’s Word, and silently engage in fellowship while thanking Him for His abundant grace upon me!

Purifying My Motives

Just as God loves me; He loves His people. He paid an incredible price for them! His desire is to minister to His people. As a minister of God, the focus is not my fame, but rather the good of God’s people and God’s glory. He has chosen to minister His grace through me to His people (1 Corinthians 3:9-13).

Meditating on timeless truths and dependence upon the ever-present Holy Spirit enable me to stand and proclaim.

Expecting God’s Fruit

Believing that I am God’s servant for the moment with confidence in His presence and power, I ask for fruit that will remain. Life transformation is not the fruit of human cleverness, but rather the power of God (1 Corinthians 2:1-5; 3:5-8). Faith energizes me faithfully to communicate God’s Word expecting fruit to His glory.

Join the Conversation

What disciplines assist you in dispelling defeating doubts?

What strengthens your faith and drives you faithfully to communicate the Word of God with confidence?

Topics: BCC Exclusive, Christian Living, Doubt, Pastoral Resources, People in Need of Care, People Who Offer Care, People Who Train Caregivers | Tags: , ,

How to Relate Truth to Life: Connecting Ancient Texts with Modern People

How to Relate Truth to Life--Connecting Ancient Texts with Modern People

How do you speak God’s words in a way that grabs the people in front of you? Understanding what God was saying to people two-thousand years ago is critical, but equally so is how that word translates into the present so that people today understand what he’s also saying to them.

An Example from God’s Word

Peter points the way when he says, “If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler” (1 Peter 4:15).

Do his examples strike you as odd? They do to me. Did he honestly believe that the majority of his audience was likely to suffer for being murderers? Thieves? Other kinds of criminals?

There’s nothing in the Scripture to indicate that the early church was mostly populated by social delinquents. To the contrary, if anything, it was filled with pious people who had to unlearn the religious legalism they’d grown up with. Why then does Peter, as he’s applying his message, single out groups of people that his hearers were unlikely to identify with?

I wonder if he’s doing something similar to Nathan when he confronted King David in 2 Samuel 12. Nathan told a story that allowed David to focus outside himself, see truth objectively and agree with it, so that later it might meet with less resistance and convict his own heart.

In a similar way, Peter invites you to agree, “You shouldn’t suffer as a murderer, right?”

“Absolutely not!” you affirm.

“Nor should you suffer as a thief. Nor any kind of criminal. Right?”

“Right, and right again!”

That’s when he has you, “And you really shouldn’t suffer as a meddler—as a common busy-body who goes about sticking their nose into other people’s business where it doesn’t belong.”

“Oh … now you’re talking about me. Before I could agree with you because the truth was really obvious (and it was obviously not me!), which means that I’m still having to agree, only now, it obviously is me.”

Crafting Examples in the Personal Ministry of the Word and the Public Ministry of the Word

Peter took things that were safe to contemplate because they were relatively far away, but he didn’t stay at that far-horizon. Instead, he came in close, extending his logic to something every single person can identify with. His approach helps me when I think about how to craft an example in a counseling situation or in more public ministry.

Recently I had to describe the gospel in the first chapter of Galatians as God’s means of rescuing us from “the present evil age” (Gal. 1:4) to a room full of relatively well-off, optimistic North-easterners.

Now, does my congregation have troubles and struggles living on this earth? Sure. But do most of us wake up each morning believing that the best description of the world in which we live is “the present evil age”? I doubt it.

Worse, I suspect that many of those in the room still share the American belief that our most pressing problems are those external to us, not internal. Therefore, in order to value this gospel that God offers, I needed to help us see the pervasiveness of “the present evil age” as well as our own participation in it.

So, following Peter’s lead, I began by describing something that had nothing to do with anyone in the room, but that could then create a bridge for each one to see and agree that “the present evil age” is an appropriate and helpful interpretive lens through which to view life.

I talked about ants. Specifically, the ant colonies that were invading my home and that were waging open warfare on each other—chewing and biting each other to death—despite having access to nearly unlimited supplies of food in my kitchen.

From there I broadened the scope to consider our two cats that in a similar way have everything they need and most of what they want in their world, and yet, one of them cannot get along with the other, picking fights whenever he can.

Now I could come closer to the people in the room by introducing human beings who are also infected by the same darkness of the present evil age. I reflected on my children who, like the ants and cats, have everything they need and most of what they want, and yet, also struggle to get along. I noted that there are days when all you need to do is leave a room for a fight to break out.

And that allowed me to home in on the people in the room by talking about the darkness I find in myself. It’s a short step from considering my children to considering their parents, who also have everything they need and most of what they want, and who don’t even need others to leave the room in order to start a fight.

Going from the ants to the cats to the kids to the parents, I’m simultaneously narrowing the focus to each individual in the room, while highlighting the severity of the problem; that each person needs to be rescued from themselves.

While there are times for a blunt approach, Nathan and Peter’s method gives someone a chance to see and assent to the true nature of the issue that God’s addressing, without automatically triggering our self-justifying natures. Having seen and agreed with his truth for others from a more objective perspective, it’s easier to acknowledge that it’s equally true of us as well.

Join the Conversation

How do you relate truth to life in counseling? In teaching/preaching?

Topics: BCC Exclusive, Communication, Pastoral Resources, People in Need of Care, People Who Offer Care, People Who Train Caregivers | Tags: , ,

Weekend Megaphone Post: What’s Medical About Mental Illness

The BCC Weekend Resource

BCC Staff Note: On weekends we often use our BCC “megaphone” to alert you to excellent resources on other biblical counseling sites. Today we highlight the blog site of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC). The ACBC is providing videos of their plenary sessions from their recent annual conference.

You can go to What’s Medical About Mental Illness at the ACBC’s site to view Dr. Charles Hodges discuss the relationship between disease and mental illness. Dr. Hodges handles issues such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, OCD, Depression, and Schizophrenia from a biblical perspective.

If you are interested in purchasing recorded sessions from The Gospel and Mental Illness, you can visit the ACBC’s Resource Store.

Topics: People in Need of Care, People Who Offer Care, People Who Train Caregivers, Psychology and Christianity | Tags: , ,

Friday’s 5 to Live By

Friday's 5 To Live By

Each Friday our BCC staff links you to the top five biblical counseling and Christian living blog posts of the week—posts that provide robust, rich, and relevant insights for living.

3 Purposes God Has for Your Life

Pastor J.D. Greear is convinced that our lives would be drastically altered if we understood God’s purpose for our life. He develops that idea in his post Does God Have a Purpose for My Life?

12 Biblical Counseling Resources on Adoption

Paul Tautges has collated direct links to 12 biblical counseling Resources on Adoption.

4 Ways to Distinguish the Holy Spirit from the Unholy Serpent

At Ligonier Ministries, Sinclair Ferguson writes:

“How do we distinguish the promptings of the Spirit of grace in His guiding and governing of our lives from the delusions of the spirit of the world and of our own sinful heart? This is a hugely important question if we are to be calm and confident that the spirit with whom we are communing really is the Holy Spirit. John Owen suggests four ways in which the Spirit and the serpent are to be distinguished.”

You can read those 4 ways in How to Distinguish the Holy Spirit from the Serpent.

2 Ways Jesus Offends

Trevin Wax incisively writes:

“The Jesus of the Gospels is offensive because of how inclusive He is. The Jesus of the Gospels is offensive because of how exclusive He is. The church is offended by His inclusivity, and the world is offended by His exclusivity. Thus we are inclined to weaken the offense, either by minimizing His inclusive call or by downplaying His exclusive claims. Unfortunately, whenever we lop off one side or the other, we wind up with a Jesus in our own image. Instead, we should celebrate both Jesus’ inclusiveness and His exclusivity, for this is the polarity that makes Jesus so irresistibly compelling.”

You can read how Trevin develops these thoughts in Give me the Doubly-Offensive Jesus, Please.

4 Benefits of Stories for Discipleship

At Gospel-Centered Discipleship, Matthew Simms shares 4 Benefits of Stories for Discipleship.

Join the Conversation

Which post impacted you the most? Why? What blog posts have you enjoyed this week that you want to share with others?

Topics: Five To Live By, People in Need of Care, People Who Offer Care, People Who Train Caregivers | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The Brain’s Response to Threat

Hodges - The Brains Response to Threat

BCC Staff Note: You’re reading the fourth of a four-part, week-long blog mini-series by Charles D. Hodges, Jr., M.D. These posts will follow the theme related to the use of research in our thinking about life struggles. You can read Part One at Chemical Imbalances and Depression, Part Two at Hope Is a Very Good Thing, and Part Three at Depression and Exercise. Dr. Hodges is a family physician who practices medicine in Indianapolis, Indiana. He is a graduate of the Indiana University School of Medicine, board certified in Family Medicine and Geriatrics, and is a licensed marital family therapist. Dr. Hodges is also a trained biblical counselor who has been counseling people with mood problems and other family issues for twenty-five years. You can learn more about Dr. Hodges and his book, Good Mood Bad Mood at his website here. You can also view Dr. Hodges’ plenary presentation at the Annual Conference of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC) at their blog site here. Today’s blog is re-posted by the BCC with Dr. Hodges’ permission, and you can also read the original post on his site here.

New Research

It is always great when someone in research science spends time and money to prove something that we knew all along. In a study done at the University of Exeter, researchers have found that the brain response to a perceived threat is stopped when we are reminded that we are loved and cared for! Who knew?[i]

Forty-two healthy patients were studied using MRI brain scans to look at an area in the brain called the amygdala. The amygdala changes on the MRI scans when an individual is shown pictures of threatening situations. The changes that occur with the threat did not occur when the patient was shown pictures of other people receiving emotional support and affection before being shown the threatening pictures.[ii]

Similar responses have been seen in research that looked at brain scan changes in individuals who have pain. The brain response was reduced in patients who were shown reminders of being loved and cared for. This response in pain and for those who fell threatened is particularly seen in anxious individuals.

Old Truth

We could have told them this 2,000 years ago! Yes, Paul said it in multiple places and ways and so did John the Apostle. John said, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us” (1John 4:18-19). There is the answer 2,000 years before an MRI brain scan could show us a picture. The one who know that he is loved by the sovereign God of the universe does not need to fear!

Paul would tell us further that nothing could separate us from God’s love! “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?… For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39).

There we have it. Nothing can separate believers from the love of an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, sovereign God! Believers who come to understand this have nothing to fear from life. And, we have the brain scans to prove it! Teaching those who struggle with fear and worry about the grace of God and His sovereign power in their lives is the most effective way I know of to help anyone stop worrying.

This concept and research show us a great opportunity in biblical counseling. We can help those who struggle with PTSD and anxiety disorders. We can help by teaching them what the Scriptures say about the God who loves them and who wants to cast out their fears. As Paul would say, “If God is for us, who is against us?” (Romans 8:31).

Join the Conversation (Added by the BCC Staff)

How does the truth of God’s love and care impact you when faced with external threats or internal feelings of anxiety?


 

[i]L. Norman, N. Lawrence, A. Iles, A. Benattayallah, A. Karl. “Attachment-security Priming Attenuates Amygdala Activation to Social and Linguistic Threat.” Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 2014; DOI: 10.1093/scan/nsu127.

[ii]University of Exeter. “Brain’s Response to Threat Silenced When We Are Reminded of Being Loved and Cared For.” ScienceDaily, 7 November 2014. http://www.exeter.ac.uk/news/featurednews/title_420975_en.html

Topics: Fear/Worry, People in Need of Care, People Who Offer Care, People Who Train Caregivers, Stress | Tags: , , ,

Depression and Exercise

Hodges - Depression and Exercise

BCC Staff Note: You’re reading the third of a four-part, week-long blog mini-series by Charles D. Hodges, Jr., M.D. These posts will follow the theme related to the use of research in our thinking about life struggles. You can read Part One at Chemical Imbalances and Depression and Part Two at Hope Is a Very Good Thing. Dr. Hodges is a family physician who practices medicine in Indianapolis, Indiana. He is a graduate of the Indiana University School of Medicine, board certified in Family Medicine and Geriatrics, and is a licensed marital family therapist. Dr. Hodges is also a trained biblical counselor who has been counseling people with mood problems and other family issues for twenty-five years. You can learn more about Dr. Hodges and his book, Good Mood Bad Mood at his website here. You can also view Dr. Hodges’ plenary presentation at the Annual Conference of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC) at their blog site here. Today’s blog is re-posted by the BCC with Dr. Hodges’ permission, and you can also read the original post on his site here.

I Run, Therefore, I Am Not Depressed!

I have been away from the blog for a while because of travel and it is time to get back to new research. And, today I stumbled across a report of research that looks at the beneficial effects of exercise on the risk of depression. Most of you know that on twitter.com my handle is runningdoc and that is because I run. I have been running since the age of 19—longer than most people have been alive. I run 35 miles a week and by now some reader is asking, “Why?”

Well, now I have a really good answer, or at least a better one than I want to eat coconut cream pie at will! It is reported that exercising three times a week reduces the risk of depression in adults by 16%. And, the benefit increases 6% for each added day one exercises! That means that my risk of depression has been cut by 34% just because I run 6 days a week![i]

Fortunately, exercise in the study was not defined as running, which means the benefit is available to just about anyone who can walk. When I was a young physician, I read an article by Dr. George Crane, a physician and psychologist, who wrote an advice column that was syndicated around the country and published in my paper. Crane described what an old physician had told him worked best for helping his patients who were depressed.

The elder physician said he sent them all out to walk 2 miles a day along with reading a chapter of the gospel of Luke daily. He also had them help someone who was worse off than they were for two hours each week. They were to help someone who could not pay them back and to whom they were not related. The old doctor found that all of these things helped the people he cared for.

I cannot say that everyone who is depressed will be cured by the older doctor’s prescription. But, I can say that daily vigorous exercise can reduce the risk of depression in the general population by 34%. The research is in and it says so!

And, yes, I think the rest of the old doctor’s prescription helps a lot. And, for the last 30 years I have been telling strugglers a lot of the same advice.

Join the Conversation (Added by the BCC Staff)

In your personal life, how do you factor daily exercise into your daily routine?

In your counseling ministry, what role do you believe that good, wise care for the body (eating right, exercising, good sleep habits, etc.) has in helping people who struggle with depression?


[i]http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/15/us-health-depression-fitness-idUSKCN0I42IS20141015 I saw this article first on foxnews.com, but the original posting was on Reuters at the above web address.

Topics: Depression, People in Need of Care, People Who Offer Care, People Who Train Caregivers | Tags: , , ,

Hope Is a Very Good Thing: What Is the Active Ingredient in Antidepressant Medication?

Hodges - Hope Is a Very Good Thing - What Is the Active Ingredient in Antidepressant Medication

BCC Staff Note: You’re reading the second of a four-part, week-long blog mini-series by Charles D. Hodges, Jr., M.D. These posts will follow the theme related to the use of research in our thinking about life struggles. You can read Part One at Chemical Imbalances and Depression. Dr. Hodges is a family physician who practices medicine in Indianapolis, Indiana. He is a graduate of the Indiana University School of Medicine, board certified in Family Medicine and Geriatrics, and is a licensed marital family therapist. Dr. Hodges is also a trained biblical counselor who has been counseling people with mood problems and other family issues for twenty-five years. You can learn more about Dr. Hodges and his book, Good Mood Bad Mood at his website here. You can also view Dr. Hodges’ plenary presentation at the Annual Conference of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC) at their blog site here. Today’s blog is re-posted by the BCC with Dr. Hodges’ permission, and you can also read the original post on his site here.

The Active Ingredient: Hope

I do like movies! I like them most for the quotes that are just waiting to pop up when I read an article in medicine. Today’s quote came from the Shawshank Redemption. Andy was talking to Red sitting in the prison exercise yard trying to get across why Andy was not going crazy while doing life for a crime he did not commit. Andy had hope that grew from the fact that he was digging a tunnel out of prison!

The quote applies to a new research study that tells us something that many have been thinking for a long time. The active ingredient in today’s crop of antidepressant medications appears to be hope. The study was done at the UCLA Medical School and examined whether or not patient attitude toward the treatment made a difference in the outcome.[i]

The study divided individuals into three groups one of which would receive a placebo pill (looks exactly like the real thing, but does not contain the active drug) and a second which would receive the medication. The third group did not receive medication but did get supportive care. Then they questioned the participants as to whether or not they believed the medicine was going to work.

Those who reported that they believed the medication would be effective improved. They improved whether they received the placebo or the real drug. And, the difference between the groups was not large. Both treatment groups did better than those who only received supportive care. I suppose the equation would look like: faith + hope = effectiveness.
In the words of the researchers, “Supportive interaction with the subject helped them get better, and antidepressant therapy helped them get better, but I think our key finding was that patients’ belief in the effectiveness of medication was a unique factor that contributed to them getting well. So, belief in the power or effectiveness of the medication may be a contributor to placebo responses in the treatment of depression.”[ii]

Hope Is a Person

There are lots of directions to take these results. The lack of a large benefit in taking the active drug makes one wonder if the potential for side effects would be worth the risk. But I think there is more to be had in looking at how faith can help those who are depressed. As the writer of Hebrews said, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

If nothing more than faith in the effectiveness of a placebo can result in people who are depressed improving, what might happen if they had something or Someone real in which to believe?

Join the Conversation (Added by the BCC Staff)

What role do you think hope plays in your life? In your healing from life’s hurts? In your counseling ministry?


 

[i]“Patient Expectations Largely Dictate Antidepressant Response.” Medscape News @ Medscape.com. Pam Harrison, September 15, 2014.

[ii]Ibid.

Topics: Medication, People in Need of Care, People Who Offer Care, People Who Train Caregivers | Tags: , , , ,

Chemical Imbalances and Depression

Hodges - Chemical Imbalances and Depression

BCC Staff Note: You’re reading the first of a four-part, week-long blog mini-series by Charles D. Hodges, Jr., M.D. These posts will follow the theme related to the use of research in our thinking about life struggles. Dr. Hodges is a family physician who practices medicine in Indianapolis, Indiana. He is a graduate of the Indiana University School of Medicine, board certified in Family Medicine and Geriatrics, and is a licensed marital family therapist. Dr. Hodges is also a trained biblical counselor who has been counseling people with mood problems and other family issues for twenty-five years. You can learn more about Dr. Hodges and his book, Good Mood Bad Mood at his website here. You can also view Dr. Hodges’ plenary presentation at the Annual Conference of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC) at their blog site here. Today’s blog is re-posted by the BCC with Dr. Hodges’ permission, and you can also read the original post on his site here.

Interesting News in Medical Research

There is interesting news in the field of medical research for depression.[i] I am always grateful when medical researchers take another look at a significant problem in life when the current answers don’t seem to work well. This is so true of depression. People do struggle with real sadness today and the answers that medicine offers are just not working as well as hoped.

Research in the past decade has told us that the most popular medicines we have for depression do not work very well for up to 80% of the people who take them.[ii] There is a growing sense that the diagnosis of depression is made too often. It is also a concern that normal sadness over loss is being confused with the disease depression.[iii]

Today, most all of us know or have heard about chemical imbalances and how they are supposed to cause depression. Most of us have heard about serotonin and how a low level of it in our brains can cause us to be depressed. We have seen the commercials on television for medications that are supposed to correct the deficit. But, new research would indicate that the chemical serotonin may have little or nothing to do with depression at all.

Researchers at the Wayne State University School of Medicine noticed that 60 to 70 percent of patients who take the serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants will still feel depressed. And so they devised a research project that would look again at the role serotonin and chemical imbalances play in depression. What they found indicated that serotonin may not be a major factor in depression.[iv]

Keep mind that the study was done on mice. They were found to have a gene that resulted in them making very little serotonin in their brains.  And no you do not need to remind me that we are men and not mice. But, these mice with little brain serotonin did not display a depression-like behavior pattern under normal circumstances. When they were subjected to the same kinds of situations that caused behavior that looked like depression in animals, these mice responded just like normal mice that had normal levels of serotonin. Most of the genetically serotonin deficient mice did not respond to the SSRI antidepressants in the same way normal mice did with changes in their “depression-like” behavior.

The conclusions from the study were that it is likely that serotonin may not be a large factor in depression. In essence the chemical imbalance/ serotonin deficiency theory of depression is most likely wrong. While this is not great news for those who are invested heavily in the production and sale of the current crop of antidepressants, it is good news for patients.

Why This Is Good News

The reason it is great news is the last line in the article. “These results could dramatically alter how the search for new antidepressants moves forward in the future, the researchers conclude.” In other words, science is moving on to look for a better way to explain why some struggle with sadness. The outcome could be a better understanding of the cause at the brain cell level of the disordered sadness part of depression today.

This could result in laboratory testing and brain scanning that would allow us to make a better diagnosis. And, that could lead to more effective treatment. This study opens the door for researchers to resume looking for a real explanation for the disordered sadness of depression.

When we understand the change in the human brain or body that causes depression two things could happen. The diagnosis of depression will become far more accurate reducing the numbers of people over-diagnosed. And, a better treatment could be found for those who suffer with severe, disordered sadness.

For the 90% of patients today with normal sadness over loss, accurate testing could help them avoid from being treated with medicine intended for the treatment of disease. Having a test that says the patient does not have depression would help doctors encourage patients to seek care that fit their problem such as counseling.  And that is where Biblical counseling can offer great hope.

Join the Conversation (Added by the BCC Staff)

What role should medical research play in our understanding of treatment for depression?

How does the study reported on in this blog impact your understanding of the cause of depression?


 

[i]American Chemical Society. “Serotonin deficiency? Study throws into question long-held belief about depression.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 August 2014. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140827111946.htm

[ii]Charles Hodges M.D., Good Mood Bad Mood.  Shepherd Press: Wapwallopen, PA, 2013, 48-49.

[iii]Ibid., 68-69.

[iv]Mariana Angoa-Pérez, Michael J. Kane, Denise I. Briggs, Nieves Herrera-Mundo, Catherine E. Sykes, Dina M. Francescutti, Donald M. Kuhn. “Mice Genetically Depleted of Brain Serotonin Do Not Display a Depression-like Behavioral Phenotype.” ACS Chemical Neuroscience, 2014; 140812102725008 DOI: 10.1021/cn500096g

Topics: Depression, People in Need of Care, People Who Offer Care, People Who Train Caregivers | Tags: , , , , ,

Weekend Megaphone Post: Brothers, We Are Not Therapists

The BCC Weekend Resource

BCC Staff Note: On weekends we often use our BCC “megaphone” to alert you to excellent resources on other biblical counseling sites. Today we highlight the blog site of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC). The ACBC is providing videos of their plenary sessions from their recent annual conference.

You can go to Brothers, We Are Not Therapists: The Future of Biblical Counseling in a Culture of Mental Illness at the ACBC’s site to view Dr. Heath Lambert, the ACBC Executive Director, discuss God’s calling on His Church and on us as biblical counselors and one-another ministers.

If you are interested in purchasing recorded sessions from The Gospel and Mental Illness, you can visit the ACBC’s Resource Store.

Topics: Conference, Video | Tags: ,

About the BCC

The BCC exists to strengthen churches, para-church organizations, and educational institutions by promoting excellence and unity in biblical counseling as a means to accomplish compassionate outreach and effective discipleship.