This book may be one that a person would be tempted to pass over due to the subject matter. I would recommend that one not be so quick to dismiss this as just another book on counseling and psychology. It is a book filled with hope and encouragement, whether you have experienced discouragement because of certain situations in life, or you know someone who has or is battling severe depression.
In the introduction, Dr. Welch writes that the path ahead is a partnership between the “whys” and the “how-tos.” The “why” questions are religious in nature and are about God and the basic questions of life. To ignore them and focus on the “how” questions might lead to temporary mental relief, but your heart will still be famished.
As he writes about the technical diagnosis of depression as often being a chemical imbalance he urges the reader to not buy into a medical explanation too quickly. The reason being that if a depressed person assumes their problem is fundamentally medical they will not see any usefulness in looking at their relationships or basic beliefs about God.
He also warns against just assuming that depression is only rooted in spiritual causes. He points out that strong faith can coexist with emotional highs, lows and everything in between. “It is a myth that faith is always smiling.”
In part one of the book he writes that depression is suffering. He discusses some of the causes, but he always keeps us coming back to the Scriptures and God. “But all suffering is intended to train us to fix our eyes on the true God. Therefore, depression, regardless of the causes, is a time to answer the deepest and most important of all questions: Whom will I trust? Whom will I worship?” He goes on to introduce the reader to God who is sovereign, powerful and good. The exhortation is to cry out to the Lord, to battle with the enemy Satan, and to persevere in the fight.
In part two, “Listening to Depression,” he discusses in more detail the reasons for depression, but I think a key chapter is thirteen, “The Heart of Depression.” Here he writes about what comes out of a person, such as autonomy, indulging his/her desires, and wanting more, none of which changes one’s depression. You will also be ministered to, and challenged by the other chapters on fear, anger, dashed hopes, failure and shame, guilt and legalism, and death.
“Other Help and Advise” is the third section of the book and deals with medical treatments, and how families and friends can help those depressed. There are good practical suggestions throughout this section, and expectations to learn and be used by God.
Part four is entitled “Hope and Joy: Thinking God’s Thoughts.” Dr. Welch ends the book with great encouragement as he writes, “While our culture elevates riches and health, hope is one of the most coveted spiritual possessions. You get it by asking for it and by practicing it. You practice it by remembering and meditating on God’s story….Joy is not the opposite of suffering…Instead, joy can actually be a companion to suffering.” In the end get the message of Jesus’ words “I love you.”
Welch has written with compassion, gentleness, and has kept a Christ-centered focus on how to handle depression. He has saturated the book with Scripture, and therefore it is recommended for your reading.