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Comments about ‘Balancing faith and mental health: Both complex, important to well being’

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Published: Thursday, Aug. 30 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

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Utes Fan
Salt Lake City, UT

"Daniel K. Judd, who earned a doctorate in counseling psychology at BYU, said in a BYU forum in 2006 that perhaps one of the reasons Utah residents use more antidepressants than the rest of the nation is because they are more educated and aware of the symptoms and treatments of depression and are more likely to seek out help when they need it."
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True. Also, given the LDS Family Services, which offers counselling and help for mental issues, is easy to obtain for Latter-Day Saints, and for those who don't have insurance to cover it and are in need of financial assistance, the Church frequently offers financial assistance to help pay for it - sometimes paying for it all together.

Also Latter-Day Saints will avoid other methods, such as alcohol, that some turn to when dealing with mental health issues such as depression.

utah cornhusker
NORFOLK, NE

I have suffered from depression/anxiety ever since I can remember. I have been on antidepressants most of my adult life. Unfortunately, lds social services is not an option. The closest is over 200 miles one way. The counselor I had was very good and for him not being lds, he was very respectful of my beliefs and never degraded my beliefs. I'm active in the church and spiritually is affected by depression. Unfortunately, my employer changed insurance and he isn't covered. I have to meet $500.00 deductible before they will even pay 80/20 which I think stinks. At times I feel So far away from the lord because of the depression. It's going to be a lifelong trial.

Utes Fan
Salt Lake City, UT

@utah cornhusker

I feel your pain. I too suffer from adult depression. Medication has never worked for me. While I have access to LDS Family Services, the type of depression I have has required a more specialized therapist (outside of LDS Family Services) that is not at all covered by my insurance. I had to stop using the therapy and stopped visiting my therapist several years ago since I can't afford it anymore.

Still, the gospel is the best thing for me. While the Lord hasn't seen fit to take my depression away, the gospel and activity in the Church has certainly helped. Sunday is by FAR the best day of the week for me, and I feel NO depression at all on the Sabbath. If I maintain my spirituality, it (the lack of depression) remains so during the week, but indeed does diminish as the week progresses - the depression gradually creeps back into me as the week goes on. I don't say this as a "faith promoting story", but as a reality. At one time it wasn't this way for me, but prayer brought on the decreased symptoms. Hopefully the same can come to you.

Yorkshire
City, Ut

utahcornhusker I have heard there is an LDS therapist in Dallas who does his therapy on long range patients on Skype, Kevin Hickley I believe is his name. Also, maybe a therapist from your LDS Social Services would be willing to do the same, or by phone, as your distance is prohibitive. Good luck to you.

I echo Utes Fan that living the Gospel and Sundays etc helps...

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

When I was a teenager, I never missed a Church meeting. I studied the scriptures daily, prayed incessantly, and constantly confused my own inner impulses with the Holy Ghost giving me guidance or Satan trying to lead me astray. I was never sure which one of the two was calling on me at the moment. I’ve never been diagnosed for depression but from what I came to learn of it in later years, the symptoms now sound eerily familiar.

I joke now about the mercurial nature of the still small voice. For me, that’s being born again. There was a time when the subject matter was anything but funny.

terra nova
Park City, UT

Glad to more open discussion about metal illness. While perception is improving, there are still unfortunate misconceptions about diseases of the mind lingering among the Saints. Not the least of them is "if you had a little more faith, this would not be a problem." Thankfully, it is rare to hear the same thing about someone suffering from cancer, diabetes, or even weak eyesight. In our day, Wendy Ulrich wrote, "Weakness is not Sin." In Christ's time, his disciples(!) asked "Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him." (John 9:2-3)

The same could have been asked about a mentally ill person. If we work to heal suffering... in any being from any thing, we do God's work. King Benjamen knew and taught this bit of wisdom: "When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God." (Mosiah 2:17)

Blessed are those that work among modern day lepers.

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

terra nova,

Very thoughtful and compassionate post. I was thinking of the admonition of Christ to "Be ye therefore perfect." Perfection is, of course, a very subjective determination to reach. So is religious doctrine, although there are religious people who will take strong exception to that. Discussing matters of faith in conjunction with mental illness can be a bumpy ride because of how the latter is still something sufferers find shameful to openly discuss. But I agree with you that perception is improving.

Fern RL
LAYTON, UT

This statement: "Refusing to take medication is like praying for your garden to grow and refusing to plant the seeds," bothers me a little.

While true enough for those who really need antidepressants, it puts undue pressure on those who have to respond to doctors who want to force them on you simply because the statistics for depression in Utah are so high. That is the situation I was in once.

I may have had hypo-thyroid symptoms for years with the doctor wanting to treat me for depression without checking the thyroid or just the TSH and not the real thyroid levels. I barely started to feel good when I developed Graves' Disease.

Last year a different doctor stopped testing my husband for heart problems when his EKG came out normal, then focused on anti-depressants, when my husband hadn't ever had his thyroid checked, or any recent blood tests.

He turned out to be hypo-thyroid, as well as needing anti-anxiety meds and antidepressants, but the most dangerous problem was Congestive Heart Failure that at least 5 doctors failed to see before he had an Echo-cardiogram 6 months after having classic symptoms.

NAMI Utah
Salt Lake City, UT

I am writing from NAMI Utah to let readers know about our free classes and support groups for individuals living with mental illness as well as their family and loved ones. This article failed to mention the many great resources in the community including NAMI. This is very discouraging as our great state has many places for Utahns to get the help they need.

Our free classes are taught by individuals with a lived experience of mental illness whether they live with a mental health diagnosis or their family member or loved one does. This offers a unique perspective of understanding, support, and education.
We also have mentors answering calls M-F/9-5. These mentors can talk with folks who call in about what they are dealing with, how to get the help they need as well as provide a listening ear.

Our upcoming NAMIWalk will take place on Saturday September 29th at Liberty Park. It is the largest mental health awareness event in Utah and is free to register!

For more information about NAMI Utah and the classes and support groups we offer, as well as information on registering for our Walk, please check us out online!

CathyReads
VISALIA, CA

I struggle with mental illness myself, and I agree that while religion definitely helps to ground me, in terms of it providing a helpful support group, that can still be iffy. There are still just far too many people out there, including in the church, who just don't understand how it feels to be in the grip of a depression, for instance, that's most definitely biological/chemical, rather than just a "rough patch" that everyone experiences at one time or another. When you are in that place, hearing a bunch of people just tell you to smile or to "count your blessings" or some other platitude can be frankly annoying and counterproductive. It ends up making you feel even MORE isolated, rather than helping pull you out of isolation. I finally decided earlier this year to blog about this topic (lifeandlims.com) so I can perhaps raise awareness at least a little bit. I have included some posts on how my faith affects my mental health. I would love to see more written about this topic because better understanding among the general public would greatly benefit those who do face this particular challenge of mortality.

gratefulmouse
san angelo, tx

use to be a stigma on people with any form of mental illness..so most people didnt come to get help..once you were labeled..that was it for you. well, what people dont realize is that some of our most famous and worthy people had mental illness..abraham lincoln..the news guy on tv..and quite a few others..there is a difference in mental illness and emotional disorder..I wrote an article in the newspaper before about the differences. also use to be the main thought was you can just get out of it..something caused it..well, having had experience ie.major depression and anxiety disorder..you cant just get out of it...it takes time and lots of talking..exercising and eating right and being able to sleep..and a whole lot of prayers ..I went through it twice with no meds but lots of counceling..and then once while on meds ..there are trade offs in life..while trying to get off the older brand of antidepressants i was put on after a hysterectomy..I traded off for seizures...cont..

gratefulmouse
san angelo, tx

cont. the trade off with the seizure disorder was that I was taking meds prescribed by the dr for the hysterectomy because I was allergic to the estrogen and bk in the old days women were given antidepressants to cover a list of ills from a hysterectomy. well, I stayed on the antidepressant longer because the drs said I had a history of major depression and this would help that too. well, Im off of it but now on keppra..a seizure drug..so life has its ups and downs ..no matter where you are though in the up or the down..God is there ..I found though that I can see His hand more in the down...He is guiding and helping along the way. With our own agency we can chose Him...He is my greatest councelor..

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