Can My Pastor treat me for Depression?

Some Pastors can treat Depression. However, they must have the training. Mental Illness is very serious and can be deadly. It is important to recall  “depression” itself causes more missed days from work than any other illness. There are many different types of depression, so this becomes the first task of an evaluator. A Pastor can treat, but many of them are not trained in this specialized area.

This questions comes up often in my practice. Yes, Pastor are bound by laws of confidentiality. However, there rules are not as stringent as physicians. I would advise that you first get a good diagnostic work-up from a Medical Physician-Psychiatrist. After the work-up, you can then explore different type of therapy and with who. Usually, the psychiatrist will follow you for medication management, however some choose to participate in on-going therapy with another practitioner. I my office, I do therapy and many choose just to stay right there.

You should be cautioned of some of the pitfalls of receiving therapy from your Pastor. If trained, he will have remain very neutral and he may not be able to deal with your intricate problems. I would caution that if suicidal thoughts prevail, you should immediately seek out a medical professional. I don’t think Pastors have admitting and or prescribing privileges in the U.S.

You may be fortunate enough to have a Pastor that is a physician. This is ideal, but this may also be too close for comfort. Remember people have similar difficulties and problems. If he mentions something in a sermon, it most probably won’t be about you. However, sometimes, our ears and minds may play tricks on us. This is a very serious illness and many choose to use their “faith” to help them cope and combat this illness. This is okay, and certainly your spiritual leader is an important part of the treatment team. However, be cautious and weigh both the risks and benefits before starting therapy with your Pastor.

If you are interested in tools or suggestions for your ministry in this area, please call 404-575-4785 to schedule a consultation appointment.

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