Throughout all the ages depression has plagued mankind. Nebuchadnezzar's tortured nights of sleeplessness, Lincoln's suicidal ruminations, Churchill's "black dog" moods-the dark thread of depression is woven throughout history. It has beset rich and poor, strong and weak, believers and nonbelievers.
Depression undermines the lives of those closest to us: our neighbors, our friends, our families. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that seven to fifteen million Americans suffer from serious depressive symptoms. Only ten percent seek help from mental health professionals; the rest either don't know depression can be treated, or fear that it implies weakness or mental deficiency.
Pastors are an extremely important resource for their depressed parishioners; people who need help with problems turn more often to the clergy than to any other professional.
An understanding of depression is formulated by the way a pastor perceives and responds to a depressed person.1