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Dear Gramps,

I have a couple of comments/questions. I know as a good LDS I should be able to overcome depression. But I don’t seem to be able to with any consistency. When I am deeply depressed I just seem to not care about the church, doctrines or anything. I have a lot of scriptures marked but when I am im this state nothing seems to help. Any suggestions?





Dear Jean,

Many people think of depression as an undesirable, but controllable mental attitude–something that we should repent of. Nothing could be further from the truth. That’s like saying that I should repent from having the flu. However, depression is not caused by a virus, but it IS a physiological condition that effects how we feel about ourselves. Some depression is related to a chemical imbalance in the body, while other depression may be related entirely to environmental conditions, but result from our psychological makeup. Different from the flu, it is a psychological condition rather than a physical condition, but the cure of depression is not repentance from wrong doing, any more than the cure of flu is repentance from wrong doing.

Let me hasten to say that we could stretch a point by indicating that it is possible to catch the flu by being in some place where we should not be. Not all exposures to the flu mind you.  I am just using this as an example.  It would be appropriate to repent from going to such places and we would then not be exposed to the flu from that source anymore. But it would have no effect on our present contracted illness. In the same way, if our depression were to be exacerbated by some inappropriate attitude, it would be well to repent from that attitude, so we would not be exposed those particular conditions that could result in a depressed state. However, that repentance would do nothing to change our particular makeup that would keep us immune from feelings of depression from other environmental influences.

As an example of the different causes of depression, I am very closely related to two persons who are depressed. In of them the depression is chemically based. That person takes Imiprimine by prescription, and while doing so the depression is under control and the person is perfectly functional. In the other person the depression is psychologically based. That person makes regular visits to a therapist, and over the last six months has experienced a marked change for the good in how he feels about himself–a marked personality change.

Now I am neither a doctor nor a therapist, nor do I know any more about your condition than your statement that when you are depressed you don’t seem to care about the church, so I could not begin to prescribe for your condition. But I think that it is tremendously important that you do not castigate yourself for something that is not a moral problem that should be repented of. Do not feel unworthy because you are depressed anymore than you would feel unworthy for having the flu.






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