Depression and Discerning a Religious Life


#1

If one has depression to any degree, but say not in the extreme form; should that stop one from discerning any religious life ? Be it the Priesthood, becoming a Nun or entering any Order ?

An what if one only finds peace,acceptance,love in ones faith in Christ in the Church as comfort , giving hope an comfort to ones depression ...

If the Church and Christ is the only place where one feels like everything is right, and even though he or she has some type of depression should that person in turn stay away from considering a religious life ?

Granted there is still a process to go through, a psychological exam an what not... one can still be depressed and functional....

thoughts.


#2

Dear John,

Every community will have a different policy about accepting someone with a mental illness like depression. The policy a community has is for the good of the community and the good of the individual discerning. Some communities will have the resources; financial, spiritual, intellectual, communally to support and live with someone with a mental illness. Others do not have one or more of those resources and, because of their inability to support someone, will not accept them. It would be very wrong if a community accepted a person with depression knowing that if they needed help they would be unable to provide it.

I know sometimes people feel that they are being rejected by communities if they have a mental illness. The reality most times is that communities are just being realistic about caring for the person.

I would suggest getting to know some communities if you feel you are called to religious life and if your attraction to one in particular progresses talk to the community about your psychological needs. They are the only ones who will be able to say whether you could be a candidate or not.

Blessings on your discernment!

SrMarie


#3

[quote="john78, post:1, topic:310422"]
If one has depression to any degree, but say not in the extreme form; should that stop one from discerning any religious life ? Be it the Priesthood, becoming a Nun or entering any Order ?

An what if one only finds peace,acceptance,love in ones faith in Christ in the Church as comfort , giving hope an comfort to ones depression ...

If the Church and Christ is the only place where one feels like everything is right, and even though he or she has some type of depression should that person in turn stay away from considering a religious life ?

Granted there is still a process to go through, a psychological exam an what not... one can still be depressed and functional....

thoughts.

[/quote]

I really want to respond to this because I am discerning religious life and I have been coping with depression for over 13 years. I take medication everyday because I have a chemical imbalance in my brain where I don't have enough serotonin. I am functioning really well on my medication and I have been discerning religious life for 5 years now.

I honestly don't feel that depression is enough of a factor for you to stop looking into the priesthood or religious life. If you are able to function, with or without meds, that's what the psychological evaluation focuses on. Depression as a diagnosis is not accepted by some communities. However, in my experience, there are at least a handful that will consider you in spite of depression. :thumbsup:


#4

I'm in a similar boat, inasmuch that I deal with non-diagnosed depression. I don't know the cause of it, but i often feel very sad/down for no reason and I often wake up in the mornings feeling depressed as can be and thinking that the only way out will be to enter religious life. But the truth is, I desire to have children and a wife. So I wonder the same thing..discerning a religious vocation often makes me more depressed though, so my situation is not the same as yours since you say you find peace there. If that's where you find peace and some semblance of happiness, I would say pursue it until the Lord shows you otherwise. That's just my two cents.


#5

I wanted to say thanks for the responses, I am functioning as well, i have been diagnosed and have been on medication for plenty of years , an the past i would say 2 years or so I have been off medication and have been doing plenty to handle my depression properly and i am realizing that even though I have anxiety and depression to some degree, i am functioning ,, it is weird because i cant being to imagine what it is like to not have to deal with any of these issues, and to really just be happy... I wonder if those who are really happy are really a small minority ?

An i guess everyone deals with some form of depression or anxiety to some degree.... everyone has problems to some degree or another, maybe it all just depends on how one handles it and if one is a functioning person.

But again I would add, my confidence i find is in my Faith in Christ/God and the Church, everything feels right.... feels " normal " ..... it is on my own where my confidence lacks.... Its' like how can i claim to be my own person to have done everything on my own and thus I am this confident person.... When the reality is it is my Faith that has gotten me through life.. How can my confidence not be i God and the Church ?

And part of me wishes that I just didnt have to deal with anxiety and depression to any degree so that I could be a tiny bit more confident in myself during this process of discerning and application.. I feel that I owe it to the Church to at least try. To find out if I am really being called to a religious life, I cant ignore the signs I have had in my life when I look back on my life. I want answers, and this is the only way i know to find it..

Part of me worrys to a degree that maybe it would be better to not pursue a religious life due to any degree of anxiety or depression.. but surely I can not logically give in to that idea on my own or through the internet, merely just venting.. an i have seen a psychologist on my own dime, she claims i am fine, that i just worry too much.... A bitter sweet relief of an answer.... Good to know i am " normal " but it doesnt stop the feelings of depression and anxiety i have on occasion.

I started off very paranoid in my discernment, but have come to terms that there might be a real possibilty that i am on the right path, that i am not " screwed up ", i dont claim to have any real answers, I just know something is going on and i am being lead to find out.
If it was up to the " old me " he would have ran off in fear a long time ago, yet i am still standing and moving forward,, an it hasn't been easy.

I have had to write an autobiography as well, an i tell ya it wasnt easy putting my life on the line like that.. all my thoughts and my life on paper, and to say here, judge me, interrogate me... Part of me feels like a fool for having written so much,,, but there is still the other half telling me i did the right thing... The anxiety is there to a degree, but for the most part i am at peace and am calm. The anxiety does not overwhelm me.. an i figure as long as i can move forward even being some what depressed at times, and having spurts of anxiety that i am doing something right.

Time will tell.


#6

Have you been through ANY testing whatsoever or a physical? The problem could be as simple as your thyroid being slightly off and needing a little bit of medication.

How sensitive is your hearing? Having over-sensitive hearing can lead to depression.

Have you had any traumatic experiences before the onset of your depression?

What about allergies?

There's a whole myriad of possibilites, including spiritual. Try confession, the sacrament of the sick, wearing a St Benedict medal, wearing the scapulars and the Miraculous Medal. Ask St Michael the Archangel to defend you. What may seem to be depression may actually be spiritual oppression.

There, i think that covers it: Body, mind, and soul.

Blessings,
Cloisters


#7

[quote="john78, post:1, topic:310422"]
If one has depression to any degree, but say not in the extreme form; should that stop one from discerning any religious life ? Be it the Priesthood, becoming a Nun or entering any Order ?

An what if one only finds peace,acceptance,love in ones faith in Christ in the Church as comfort , giving hope an comfort to ones depression ...

If the Church and Christ is the only place where one feels like everything is right, and even though he or she has some type of depression should that person in turn stay away from considering a religious life ?

Granted there is still a process to go through, a psychological exam an what not... one can still be depressed and functional....

thoughts.

[/quote]

You'll need to discuss in depth with a spiritual director. If you are discerning like this, it's important to have one and only one.


#8

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