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The need for churches and other faith communities to reach out and care for those suffering with depression has never been greater. Depression is now recognized as one of our most serious public health concerns. Each year more than ten percent of American adults experience a major depressive episode, and more than twenty percent will experience at least one episode over their lifetime. Furthermore, we know that depression is the major risk factor for suicide, now the second leading cause of death in the 10 - 34 year old age group and the fourth leading cause of death among adults ages 35 - 54. We also know that depression is a significant risk factor for substance abuse, another of our most serious health concerns.
While we might want to believe that our religious faith can protect us from depression and suicide, we know that's not true. We have heard too many stories of religious leaders and members of deeply religious families who have suffered from depression and taken their own lives. We need to recognize that no group is exempt from this terrible illness. Depression is found among the young and old, the religious and nonreligious, and all ethnic and racial groups.
In Depression - Out of the Darkness and Into the Light, Dan Hale, a psychologist and national leader in health ministries, draws on his own his own struggles with depression, his work as a psychotherapist, and his experiences as a father who lost a daughter to depression, to offer guidance for individuals and families impacted by depression and for congregations that recognize the importance of ministering to those suffering from this terrible illness.