A Catholic Approach to Depression

“Mental illness is Jesus’ crown of thorns.” – Blessed Mother Theresa

by Jayson M. Brunelle, M.Ed., CAGS

Clinical depression is a very serious, potentially life-threatening medical problem that afflicts persons from all walks of life.  Few people realize just how debilitating this particular mental illness is.  In order to provide some idea of how crippling depression can be, I will cite the symptoms as they are listed in the DSM IV TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental disorders).  In short, the criterion for a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder is, essentially, the presence of a single Major Depressive Episode.  This involves the manifestation of five or more symptoms that “have been present during the same 2-week period and represent a change from previous functioning:  at least one of the symptoms is either (1) depressed mood or (2) loss of interest or pleasure.”

There are nine distinct criteria used to make a diagnosis of a Major Depressive Episode.  They include:  “(1) depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated by either subjective report or observations made by others; (2) markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day; (3) significant weight loss or weight gain; (4) insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day; (5) psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day (feelings of restlessness or being slowed down); (6) fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day; (7) feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt (which may be delusional) nearly every day; (8) diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day; (9) recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurring suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.” Continue reading