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Depression in the Clergy

Pastors suffer from depression at about the same frequency as the general population—and two to four percent of the general population suffer from depression at any one time.

The privileged position of ministry does not exempt pastors from the same problems their people experience. In fact, they suffer additional stresses unique to this set-apart status. As a result, depression is a significant problem afflicting the clergy.

During 1980 I surveyed one hundred clergy randomly selected from a denominational yearbook. Twenty percent reported they have had moderate to severe depression at some time in their lives. Furthermore, depression is a very frequent symptom in pastors I see who come for outpatient or inpatient psychiatric treatment.

Stresses That May Trigger Depression

Stress does not always result in depression. For example, although John the Baptist's imprisonment caused him despair, imprisonment for Paul occasioned joy and singing. It is important, therefore, to consider the individual who experiences stress, rather than simply identifying the stresses that triggered the depression. Regardless of the state of the pastor's inner life, the expectations and ...

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