Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Living With Depression, Dowell Flatt

Living With Depression, Dowell Flatt

While a student at Freed-Hardeman University, I attended the 1991 FHU Bible Lectureship and was fortunate to hear an outstanding lecture on “Myths About Depression” by Charles White. I attended this lecture for one reason: to learn more depression that had attacked a fellow student and a teacher I highly respected—Dowell Flatt. I was intrigued that depression would take hold of the Chairman of the Bible Department and leave him nearly unable to continue his work.

Brother White, who suffers from clinical depression, is a minister among churches of Christ so his background was similar to brother Flatt. White explained that there are two basic types of depression: exogenous (situational) and endogenous (clinical or biological). The difference was very vividly portrayed by brother White as he relayed his personal battle to identify the source of his depression. At first he thought it was situational. After a physical exam his regular doctor agreed and chastised him for an apparent lack of faith. As I recall, he stated one day the depression nearly caused him to commit suicide. At this point he checked into a hospital since he knew there was no logical reason for having thoughts of suicide. After extensive examinations by a more qualified doctor, he learned that he had a severe case of biological depression. He uses medication to combat this disease and probably will for the rest of his life.

Depression is not rare. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 18.8 million American adults (9.5% of the adult population) suffer from clinical depression. Christians are to be compassionate for those who suffer from both types of depression; however, it is important to realize the difference between situational and biological depression. Reading brother Flatt’s booklet will give a person a glimpse of the battle those who suffer from biological depression are fighting. It also discusses myths of depression from a Christian’s perspective. Understanding the types of depression will assist in our ability to show greater compassion.

Note: This is a booklet of 16 pages and would also make a valuable addition to the track rack in addition to keeping a copy in the church library.

Originally printed West Virginia Christian, Vol. 10, No. 5, May 2003, p. 8. Reprinted by permission.

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