A book review by Karen Newbould
“D is for Depression. Spiritual, psychological and medical resources for healing depression.”
By Michael Lawson (2008) Christian Focus: Scotland
“D is for Depression” is a Christian resource written by Michael Lawson who is an experienced counsellor, lecturer, author and Archdeacon of Hampstead in the Diocese of London.
The book is intended to be a helpful tool for those suffering from depression and for those who desire to help those suffering from depression, as well as an insight for friends and family of those suffering from depression. It is a well balanced, down to earth book combining practical help with spiritual encouragement.
The book commences with an explanation of depression; how it manifests itself and why people get depressed. It then goes on to cover how our painful past can affect us if we have not been able to deal with it effectively and how to leave those painful memories behind. Next the book examines how the present can be painful when we try to break from the past and how to face the suffering that can cause. It moves on to discuss how our spirit is troubled by feelings of depression and burnout and how to cope with discouragement, before highlighting the need to discover our identity. Finally, the book talks about the healing process, when help is needed, to help oneself and others, and how this enables freedom.
The book is extremely easy to read, written in a style which is conversational. It uses real life examples to which it is easy to relate and uses appropriate Scripture when offering spiritual guidance. I found this particularly helpful, whether to use for helping others, or if I want to use it as a reminder for myself. It is good to have Bible verses that are applicable for a particular mood or crisis where it will help lift one’s spirit. The book also assists with suggested questions to help investigate how a person is feeling, and contains exercises to do that either enable understanding as to why a person is feeling a particular way, and finally it contains an action plan to help make positive steps in the healing process.
The way the chapters are laid out means the book could easily be used as a reference tool. For example, if someone is having trouble with a traumatic event that happened in the past, they could turn to Part Two and pick either “Understanding Your Past” or “Resolving Painful Memories” and use the content there to help. Or if someone is struggling with discouragement, they could turn to Part Four “Coping With Discouragement” and use that content to help.
The advice given in Part Five, “The Healing Process”, is both practical in suggesting routes to obtain help e.g. going to the GP, police, Samaritans, and the church, and the kind of assistance that is available. This might be medicinal, therapeutic (counselling or alternative therapies), and/or spiritual, in that it emphasises our need for God in our lives and the importance of drawing on God’s strength and His promises to take care of us. It also gives good advice on looking after ourselves by way of healthy eating, exercise, prayer and worship.
This book is a great self-help book for those who are suffering with depression as it helps us to understand why we get depressed and how we can work on ourselves in moving out of depression, whether that is by way of prayer and a change in our thinking, or by way of seeking professional help that may require medication and/or counselling. In the same vein, it is a great book for those who desire to help others, as they can learn more about depression and understand how to help. It shows that Christians suffer from depression too, even though some people feel that it is ungodly to suffer from depression.
I feel that the book is written with love and empathy for those suffering from depression and I would definitely recommend it. I will use it in numerous ways: (i), for my own benefit as a preventative measure in times of difficulty; (ii), to recommend to those I feel would benefit from reading it themselves, (whether it is because they are depressed or if a friend or loved one is); and (iii), as a guide I can use to help and counsel others.