Depression and Bipolar are serious ailments and in recent years diagnoses have sky rocketed. However many who have been diagnosed are not getting better. Worse sometimes the placebo is more effective in treating depression than the routine prescribed medications. What are we to make of this? What hope do those suffering with depression and bipolar have? Charles D. Hodges, M.D. likens it to the hemorrhaging woman in the Gospels who had sought medical attention for twelve years. While the medical profession failed her she found healing when she touched the fringe of Jesus’ cloak (Luke 8:34-44). Hodges argues that the modern medical profession has failed those suffering with mood disorders but that there is hope in Christ.
In Good Mood Bad Mood: Help and Hope For Depression and Bipolar Hodges advocates Biblical Counseling. The Biblical Counseling movement has been skeptical about secular psychology (or at the very least offers a chastened view of it). But Hodges is also a doctor and cites some startling studies about how ineffective and wrong-headed many of the diagnoses are. He also offers anecdotal evidence from suffering patients and others who have struggled under a misdiagnosis. Honestly, I do not wholeheartedly share Hodges skepticism but he does make several salient points:
- The DSM-III (and subsequent editions but Hodges cites the third edition throughout this book) provides a professional opinion which is subjectively applied to the patient.
- Sometimes the criteria in the DSM is not even followed in making a diagnosis (i.e. a diagnosis of bipolar II may be given to a patient who has never had a hypomanic episodes).
- There is no scientific way of measuring Depression or Bipolar Disorder and there is no identifiable pathology (making all treatement subjective rather than objective).
- Medication is used to confirm diagnosis (if it work you must of been depressed).
- Medication and other treatments for Depression and Bipolar are often ineffective and do not produce desired results. Sometimes the side effects are worse than the disease.
- Many of those diagnosed with Depression are actually just experiencing legitimate sadness over a loss.
Hodges allows that some people benefit from medication and that sometimes the diagnosis is correct; however his fundamental approach is lead people to an encounter with Christ and the hope he offers in His Word. As someone with a Masters of Divinity, the only counseling I am competent to offer is biblical counseling. I agree with Hodges that the Bible speaks to the depth of human experience and will be a beacon for those under the cover of the darkness of depression. I appreciate his insights and his sharing examples from his own counseling with others.
Nevertheless I had concerns that this book would cause some who shouldn’t to second guess their diagnosis and treatment. I agree with him that the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of treatment from medication alone is troubling; however he never addresses that the greatest successes in treatment of Depression come from those who combine medication with therapy. Biblical counseling can be used effectively in concert with medication. All healing is God’s healing.
I have friends and loved ones who suffer from depression and am grateful that they know a God who is close to the brokenhearted. Hodges is a worthwhile read for those wanting to see how God brings hope to the hurting. I give this book three stars: ★★★☆☆
Thank you to Crossfocused Reviews and Shepherd Press for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.