Monday, February 27, 2012

Preventing and Treating Depression

One of the greatest and most painful issues facing our country and the western world is the huge rise of Mood Disorders (Anxiety and Depression). If you have read my blog before you know that since the Korean Conflict the number, percentage and frequency of people, especially females who suffer from these painful mental and emotional problems has risen dramatically.

People are having emotional struggles earlier in life, later in life and more in-between. This also brings terrible consequences for those who care and love the suffering seeker. The financial costs are high but the costs in stress and lost involvement may be even higher.

A recent study published in December 2011 examines the trends in depression care for Medicaid clients over the past 10 years. Claims data for 56,805 Medicaid recipients who had been hospitalized for depression at least once or who had received out patient care at least two times for depression between 1996 and 2006 were examined.
Costs went up by 30%, but outcomes did not improve.

Hospitalizations went down, but costs increased anyway.

The increase in cost was related to increased use of medication.

Much of the cost increase was due to the use of anti-psychotics for treating depression.

However, despite the huge increase in using anti-psychotics, none of the participants were diagnosed with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia as well as depression. (Psychosis)

The percentage of people who received out patient psychotherapy decreased from 57% to 38%

The percentage who used medications went up from 81% to 87%

This is striking and troubling. The costs are skyrocketing but people are not getting better. Is the change in treatment because they want better outcomes, namely a decrease in symptoms? Or, is it because those prescribing these ineffective drugs are forced to do so by Medicaid who pays for the treatment?

It is well known among Therapists that drug treatment alone is not effective. In fact, as 60 Minutes reported two weekends ago, anti-depressant drugs are little more effective, if at all, than the client's faith in them (The placebo).

Talk therapy is much more effective than drugs, if it is used together with family and community support.

If you or someone you love is depressed or anxious, insist upon getting talk therapy (C0unseling). Many Doctors who write prescriptions for drugs are Internists and Family Doctors. Insist upon seeing a Counselor or Psychiatrist before you take a drug from them.

Go to our web page and take the Depression Check List found in the free downloads section for a quick and simple assessment of how you are doing.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Growth and Healing as Basic Church Functions

As you looked at this heading you may have questions. Growth and Healing are rarely a focus in sermons, web pages, blogs and books. I look for those kinds of articles and books because I want to sharpen my knowledge and skills. Unfortunately, I am usually frustrated by a lack of success.

Not long ago I was reading a blog by a wonderfully insightful Pastor/Missionary and saw that he had a list of "Important Books" on the blog. I know his ministry believes in and prays for healing so I though, "Great, I can find some good materials here. I was disappointed and sad because he reaches thousands of believer and leaders so he could be a great resource for them.

In my frustration I wrote a comment on his blog asking for him to add some good resources for education, training, pastoral care, soul care, inner healing, discipleship and so forth. He wrote back that he knew none and asked me to send him the titles of a few good books.

It hit me hard that there must be only a few people who are writing on these topics because they are not seen as important in the church. When I mention this issue I am focusing more on the positives of Christian growth than healing. I believe it is important for churches to sponsor classes, personal discipleship, materials, sermons and guest speakers on the topics of Prevention, Personal Growth, Peer Support and Ministry first and foremost. Healing can follow later but can only be carried out in a congregation with a high percentage of Mature Christians.

So far I have not taken up his request but I may now that I am writing about Growth and Healing in regards to Soul Care. We are upgrading our Sweeten Life web site so it is time to list the books I think are valuable in this regard. Randy Clark, who has a very powerful international healing ministry, asked me to write four eight week classes on Inner Healing or Soul Care. The first two are finished and stated with Level I. Courses in January. You can go to his web page and sign up.

The books and materials for my courses as well as those for general interest are also on sale in the online Sweeten Life book store. In the future we will focus on e books and e materials exclusively. They are less expensive than paper and available to download world wide. I recently updated my Monograph on the theology of healing and growth called, "The Healing Release of the Holy Spirit". It is available for $5.00 at Sweeten Life. It will challenge you to the core of your understanding of basic theology of sin, sanctification and psychopathology as well as how to reconcile Calvin with Wesley, Roman Catholics and Robert Schuller. You will also learn why Justification is not enough for salvation.

If you have any books or papers you think are good for teaching about Christian Growth send the name to me and I will check it out.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Is Europe Dead?

Take a look at the enclosed video and see what you think of France and other European nations.

For 25 years I have worked in Europe and seen the transformation of those nations from open, free and socially liberal to being ruled by other elements. One of the major issues is the lack of babies in European families because of Zero Population Growth Movements, that were very popular on campuses in the USA in the Seventies. These ideas led to abortion and extensive use of birth control as well as a movement of anger toward the “high cost” of having children. Thus, hardly any country in Europe has enough babies per couple to replace the elderly. (2.1 per couple is necessary.)

In Russia, the average woman had 8 to 10 abortions each and the population reduction is a severe crisis. The government offers a cash bonus for having over two kids, but it may be too late for Russia since they have lost 4,000,000 people in the last decade. Only immigration will keep Europe going but the Muslims see it as an opportunity to take over those nations. Thankfully, the USA is being repopulated by largely Christian immigrants from South America.

Europe has lost the battle. Just imagine the Iranians ruling in Germany, France, Italy, etc. Banning all abortion and birth control may be the only way to solve this crisis.

Building Better Relationships

This book on building better relationships is now available online at

Starting last week and continuing this weekend and the first weekend in March, Pastor Charlie McMahan and I are doing a series of Dialogue Talks at the church he leads in Miamisburg, Ohio. Southbrook Church is a dynamic, loving, warmly caring place that has grown dramatically over the past few years. Nothing succeeds like success. You can see Charlie and me discuss healthy relationships by going to Resources on their web page or going to the Sweeten Life web.

I have been reviewing the current and past research on how to be healthy and happy in marriage and life. It is somewhat boring because not much is new. Death or life are still in the ways we speak to each other and the Bible gets it right when it says to "Put off the old ways of killing the ones we love with anger, criticism and contempt." (Ephesians 4:)

I bought some CD teachings by Martin Seligman on Flourish through Positive Psychology and am listening to his great insights about ways to rear happy, successful kids and be happier in life. I am amazed how much his research correlates with the Bible. I know that some Christians are afraid of Psychology, but I find that good research always confirms a good understanding of the Bible.

Come up and join us this weekend or watch/listen to the podcast. The web is expanding to include a lot of great, practical applications of the Bible using the principles of psychological research. The combination of truth from God's word and truth from nature makes a very powerful set of liberating tools.

PS. Church attendance tends to help people think, act and feel more positively.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Christians are Helpingl those in Need

Although there is always room for growth, Christian churches, Para-Church Groups and compassionate individuals have been offering their help to needy people for two thousand years. In 1983 I was able to visit Kenya as the President of a Christian organization that was focusing on spiritual renewal. While there I saw huge problems with poverty and thousands of people living in squalor. It was depressing and overwhelming.

It was also uplifting and inspiring because I saw the work of dozens of Christian ministries from the US and other western nations who were giving of their blood, sweat and fortune to help the Kenyans build their own projects.

One of the most interesting was a small pond that came from a spring several miles away in the hills above the village. That spring fed pond provided water for all the people and cattle in the village. I discovered that a semi retired couple from Seattle, Washington had traveled to Kenya on several occasions to help them build the pipeline from the hills to the village.

On their first trip the couple saw women with heavy loads of water on their backs traveling daily to and from the spring. their men helped place the huge burden onto the backs of the women but none helped carry the load. After looking the situation over, the couple decided to help the villagers build the pipeline so those women would be set free from such a horrible job.

The came to the Missionary and told him their plan. He reminded them that it might take several years for the village to decide to build the line and several more to figure out how to pay for it. Although the rich couple could have built it themselves and certainly paid for it, they knew it had to belong to the village completely and that meant decide how, when and who would pay.

It only took three years for the village to agree to the plan and another two to get it built and paid for by the villagers. But, after five years the people had running water and the women had respite from a terrible job. In addition, the villagers learned how to plan, build and pay for a big project. They also learned how to work cooperatively with rich white folks from the USA without losing their self respect.

I like the model that the Missionary and the couple from America came up with and I have attempted to use a similar model to equip Christians to care for each other. I am speaking at Xavier University for the Remarkable Families Symposium on Friday, March 2 and that is part of my message. Come and join with us as we share how to listen to and support the parents of kids with a disability.