|Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries||Psychotherapy|
Depression: The “silent epidemic”
By the Rev.Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos & Saint Vlassios
With this title of “Silent Epidemic” a weekly newspaper with a large circulation spoke of the disease of our time, which is none other than depression. This has also been verified by the World Health Organization. It is a disease-epidemic that is spreading more and more with the passing of time; however it is also silent, it is mute, since it is not obvious in those who have been “infected” by it. They do not reveal it or express it, however, when one approaches people who are possessed by it, one can perceive its presence.
To confront the problem, a phone line was recently inaugurated for people who are suffering from depression, so that they can communicate with the specialists at the other end of the line. In the very first month of the Program’s operation, the Line received 391 calls. It received 17 calls a day on average, while each call lasted for 15 minutes. The percentages after the first month of operation of the program are indicative. 69% of calls were from women. 42,6% were people aged between 31 and 45. 72% were residents of the capital. 44% were single and 47,9% were people with a higher education. (Data taken from the Sat-Sun 12-13 July edition of the newspaper “Investor’s World” – “kosmos tou ependiti”).
Psychiatrist Maria Economou who is the scientist responsible for the Line said among other things that “it was made obvious that the callers seriously needed to speak to a specialist, anonymously and confidentially.”
I believe this last observation indicates how many of our fellow-men nowadays – with the kind of life they lead – have no-one to talk to and share the problems that torment them and also how they are possessed by fear - which is why they seek to talk anonymously and confidentially. This shows how most people are withdrawn, socially scared, and hermetically sealed within themselves. They furthermore have no visions and pursuits in their daily lives; they suffer from agoraphobia (which is the cause of their withdrawal into themselves) and as a result, they gradually sink into the sea of depression. A person who is inspired by life, who has pursuits and goals, who is a free person without any fears and dependencies, who has genuine people that he can converse with and express himself to, cannot reach the stage of depression.
In the Church, there is the Sacrament of Confession, during which people can open their heart freely and reveal the ulcers of their soul to their Spiritual Father - through whom Christ Himself works - and thus be healed and freed internally from the various internal conditions that are extremely painful to them. The Spiritual Father functions as a doctor, not as a judge; he mainly listens and consoles. One can also find genuine friends in the Church; friends with unselfish love, to whom one can more easily express the issues that preoccupy them.
At any rate, the handling of depression – when it is not attributed to an organic cause which would require a special therapy, but is of a psychological nature – is confronted with a vigor for life, with the quest for true friends who can be trusted, and with honesty with one’s own self.
And one important point: Most people of our time are manic-depressives who torment their selves for no reason; this is tantamount to a self-flagellation. Instead, they should be showing mercy towards themselves!
Article published in English on: 21-10-2008.
Last update: 21-10-2008.