Dealing with depression (book review)

Trusting God through the dark times
By Sarah Collins and Jayne Haynes
Christian Focus. 128 pages. £4.99
ISBN 978 1 845 506 339

Depression is an increasingly common condition and Christians get it. Christian workers often feel out of their depth pastorally. Friends and family feel distressed and bewildered. There may be unease about whether the problem is spiritual or physical. This little book has been written to help.

Its authors, a former Christian worker and a GP, give a concise, well balanced and easy-to-follow account of both medical and spiritual aspects of depression and how it can be understood and managed. There are helpful testimonies of sufferers sharing their experience enabling the reader to get inside the condition and gain some appreciation of the range of experiences depressive illness brings. There is also very practical chapter on how to help a depressed person and the pitfalls to avoid, which in my experience is right on target.

Three arrestingly honest and insightful accounts of depression are included as appendices These are written by a sufferer (Roger Carswell), the spouse of a sufferer and a pastor sharing their experience and wisdom from different perspectives.

The book is written primarily for helpers rather than sufferers, though it would be very useful to read and discuss with a friend who is mildly depressed or who is currently well.

There are certain omissions. The authors seem largely to have mild to moderate depression in mind. More severe depression is somewhat different and the help required, both medical and practical, is also different. Likewise post-natal depression is a relatively common condition with particular hazards and only gets a brief mention. However, in such a short book there are bound to be compromises and there are plenty of suggestions for further reading.

This book is an easy and rewarding read. I think it is an excellent starting point for understanding depression and would have no hesitation in recommending it.

Annie Gemmill, 
GP and pastor’s wife