Room for normal sadness

Depression and anxiety medications are now the most prescribed drugs by medical practitioners.

I know people who have been greatly helped by some of these medicines. 

Yet the number of people requesting and recieving medication for depression has understandably alarmed sociologists and counselors.

No room for sadness

One of the more important questions is whether or not we have room in our lives for normal sadness. Do we have unrealistic expectations for gregariousness? 

These are questions explored in the helpful book, “The Loss of Sadness: How Psychiatry Transformed Normal Sadness Into Depressive Disorder,” by Alan V. Horwitz and Jerome C. Wakelfield.

The authors suggest that a standard criteria for diagnosing depressive disorder does not adequately distinguish intense normal sadness from biologically disordered sadness. Their aim is to offer a critique of what they view as the “over-expansive psychiatric definitions of disorder.”

They offer helpful insight for distinguishing “sadness due to internal dysfunction” from “sadness that is a biologically designed response to external events.” 

The chapters exploring the anatomy of normal sadness and the failure of social sciences to distinguish this kind of sadness from depressive disorder should be required reading for all medical and psychiatric professionals — as well as all counselors.

But along with the work of sociologists, one should consider the emotional aspect of depression in a spiritual context.

Humans were created as physical, emotional, psychological, social and spiritual beings. Although doctors are primarily charged with caring for physical health, they should advocate for treatments that respect the multi-dimensional reality of what it means to be human.

I realize that they face both time and professional constraints, but medicinal aid must never be approached on a one-dimensional perspective. Do you agree?

We are more the bodies with physical needs. Other dimensions of our being (emotional, psychological, social and spiritual) must considered in the battle for health.

This holistic approach will respect all dimensions of personhood created by God. There appears to be a significant need for helping people understand the role of sadness in life and in character formation.

A doctor should ever prescribe medicines for moods or behaviors without confidence that those receiving them have a helpful support system of caring people around them (see: Caring for the whole person).

For further help addressing the emotional and spiritual dimensions, see the following:

Steve Cornell

This entry was posted in Anxiety, Biopsychology, Christian Counselor, Counseling, Depression, Despair, discouraged, Discouragement, Doctor, Emotions, Grieving, Health Care, Holistic ministry, Laughter, Loss, Medicine, Psychology, Sadness and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Room for normal sadness

  1. lindalreese55 says:

    I am glad to hear this and I do believe the whole person needs to be treated and that we do need time to heal in our hearts/minds/soul and the time frame may be different for each person based on how much so-called baggage a person has been carrying around for a extended period of time from childhood to adulthood without knowing they could seek outside help without feeling they are “crazy’ and wondering what others may think is probably the biggest worry on people’s mind?
    But it is a new day and help is available in a positive way.

  2. Thank you Steve. Can you offer any guidance please. I’m struggling at the moment with faith. My mother is in hospital and has been in hospital for much of her life. This time, she’s in hospital through no fault of her own. The staffs did not give her her medication and she’s on a dangerous medication. Although my sister and I have put in complaints to the relevant authorities, plus the Care Commission, I feel hopeless. I don’t know how to speak in tongues for prayer in the spirit, or if this is necessary. I wish I could take her pains away, and I pray for God to care for her. I’ve been a follower of God for many years, but I experience failure after failure in my life. From what I’ve read of other people who found Jesus, He healed them instantly, but I’m not sure where I”m going wrong. Christianity is hard work and some days I feel like I”m going insane because I’m always emotional most days. I’m quite desperate. I had a community for four years that has failed me, and I know that God wants us to work in communities so I’m a bit of a loner. They just abandoned me because the relationship with the man I loved failed, and now I can’t even turn to him because he just cut me out of my life. I’m so desperate for security, for God. I want to find life after this one, a life without pain or suffering, the eternity that Jesus promised, but I don’t think I’m pure or holy enough. I don’t know where to turn. Thank you

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