Priesthood and depression


#1

Hi.

Would suffering from depression and taking anti-depressants be a problem for entering the priesthood?,so far I have had mixed messages both from my pastor and people who I have contacted on the internet, some say it wouldn't be a problem others say it would be.

What I am looking for is a bit of clarification on the issue and would appreciate any advice from those who are living their vocations and those like me who are discerning.

I know that nothing is certain in life and must be prepared for any eventuality, but the Priesthood is something I feel more and more drawn too.

Thank you for your time.


#2

I believe so.


#3

Please do not ask random people on the internet for information they will not know anything about. It is important that you actually get the facts about this and not just opinions. I am sure that it might depend on the the severity of the depression and how well-managed it is with medication, as well as the diocese you are discerning. Please contact the vocation director of your diocese and ask your question. That way you get an authoratative and accurate answer. God bless you!


#4

Ask your Vocations Director.

Understanding your particular vocation would be an essential first step in seeing if your issues would pose a problem. In general however, people who are mentally ill should not be pursuing the Priesthood at the moment, but a mild illness such as Depression would probably not pose a threat to the future growth of a Vocation, if it is indeed cured.


#5

You have to ask the archdiocese or the religious order you want to be a priest for.

I want to be a nun and one order disqualified me because I had taken anti-depressants in the past. Mind you, not right now, but way in the distance past. I thought that was rather harsh--but it also says a lot about the order you are applying to--and people wonder why there is a decline in vocations--sometimes they "penalize" you for being human.

But I've know another order that was willing to accept people with bipolar disorder as long as it was controlled by medicine. So you never really know.

Seek and you shall find. :)


#6

Its not about penalising its about protecting. The life of a priest is hard, as a priest a person would be exposed to all the depressing elements of humanity far more than a regular person, someone who already struggles with depression would be crushed under a wave of despair having to deal with all the problems of his hundreds of parishioners and all their sins and failings which would be laid bear to him during his ministry.


#7

[quote="jamesic, post:1, topic:203581"]
Hi.

Would suffering from depression and taking anti-depressants be a problem for entering the priesthood?,so far I have had mixed messages both from my pastor and people who I have contacted on the internet, some say it wouldn't be a problem others say it would be.

What I am looking for is a bit of clarification on the issue and would appreciate any advice from those who are living their vocations and those like me who are discerning.

I know that nothing is certain in life and must be prepared for any eventuality, but the Priesthood is something I feel more and more drawn too.

Thank you for your time.

[/quote]

According to Canon Law:

Can. 1041 The following are irregular for receiving orders:

1/ a person who labors under some form of amentia or other psychic illness due to which, after experts have been consulted, he is judged unqualified to fulfill the ministry properly;

Clinical depression is a psychic illness. Whether or not a person with such an illness is then judged unqualified is ultimately up to the Bishop (usually in consult with psychologists and the vocations director) of the Diocese the candidate wishes to be incardinated in or the Superior (usually in similar consult) of the religious order or institute the candidate wishes to join.


#8

[quote="brandy_jo, post:3, topic:203581"]
Please do not ask random people on the internet for information they will not know anything about. It is important that you actually get the facts about this and not just opinions. I am sure that it might depend on the the severity of the depression and how well-managed it is with medication, as well as the diocese you are discerning. Please contact the vocation director of your diocese and ask your question. That way you get an authoratative and accurate answer. God bless you!

[/quote]

Good advise.


#9

I just wanted to point out a few things.

First off, the lifetime prevalence rate of depressive disorder may be as high as 25% in the United States according to recent scientific studies. There are probably many current and future seminarians and priests who suffer from mild depression. Plus, we know for sure a good number suffered from the much more severe psychiatric disorder pedophilia, and some are still active as priests.

Secondly, symptoms range from being just a little bit down to being unable to get out of bed. Goodness, I've taken an SSRI when I was going through a rough time and feeling down and anxious. I can still function just fine. If you can't get out of bed or have been hospitalized for a psychiatric disorder, that's one thing. But, using a medication to prevent any further deterioration should be encouraged instead of punished. There are lots of hard jobs in this world, and people with depression fill these positions just fine. I honestly don't see why you would need to release your medical records unless you could be declared psychologically, physically, or cognitively incompetent in the legal sense- which would take a lot more than depression medication btw.

Lastly, this is a purely personal observation, but I would run as fast as I could away from people who can't support you through a rough situation like depression. I'm making the assumption you have mild depression here, but can you imagine what they might be like if something went terribly wrong in your life or you became physically very ill? We all have various medical conditions, and I would never want to go somewhere people might discriminate against me on that basis.


#10

I would like to thank everyone who took the time to answer my post, your advice is extremely appreciated, as this is a HUGE decision for any young man to make.

I have made an appointment with the vocations director of my diocese for next week and I will see where it goes from there.

I will not be disappointed if in the end I am refused to enter the Priesthood, as I understand that the Priesthood is a very demanding vocation with little praise or appreciation and can also be emotionally draining on a person,especially a person who is already suffering from mild Depression, but I would imagine this goes for other vocations such as the Medical profession;

pulsetoday.co.uk/story.asp?storycode=4117432

guardian.co.uk/society/2001/apr/10/nhsstaff.health


#11

[quote="jamesic, post:10, topic:203581"]
I would like to thank everyone who took the time to answer my post, your advice is extremely appreciated, as this is a HUGE decision for any young man to make.

I have made an appointment with the vocations director of my diocese for next week and I will see where it goes from there.

I will not be disappointed if in the end I am refused to enter the Priesthood, as I understand that the Priesthood is a very demanding vocation with little praise or appreciation and can also be emotionally draining on a person,especially a person who is already suffering from mild Depression, but I would imagine this goes for other vocations such as the Medical profession;

[/quote]

If you truly have a vocation, it will not go away and with the help of a vocations/spiritual director, patience and prayer you will be able to discern and move forward. God would not call you if you were unable, but some face more challenges than others in the pursuit of, and discerning of their vocation - perhaps the struggle to overcome the obstacles in your path will strengthen you, and develop you so much so as to overcome your past problems!

Best of luck.


#12

[quote="jamesic, post:1, topic:203581"]
Hi.

Would suffering from depression and taking anti-depressants be a problem for entering the priesthood?,so far I have had mixed messages both from my pastor and people who I have contacted on the internet, some say it wouldn't be a problem others say it would be.

What I am looking for is a bit of clarification on the issue and would appreciate any advice from those who are living their vocations and those like me who are discerning.

I know that nothing is certain in life and must be prepared for any eventuality, but the Priesthood is something I feel more and more drawn too.

Thank you for your time.

[/quote]

Even if the diocese said no to your request, I'm sure there are oblates and third orders that you could join in order to minister God's word to people.. I am ALSO descerning the monastic life of a nun. I know that there are many orders that do not want to get into accepting those with depression or other medical problems,due to costs for medications, restrictions on the candidates ability to perform duties and such, but as others have already stated, ask your vocational director as to whether they accept candidates with properly managed depression into the holy order to which you feel you are being called.
I have many of the same questions for my vocational director and Sr. Geraldine the Delegate of the religious in my diocese. She is in Rome right now, but is interested in meeting with me to discuss the religious life. The only thing you can do is present your case, and pray that the best solution is available, and with God's graces you will be accepted into orders. [Do not become discouraged if they say no, your family here at CAF still wants to hear from you. We will pray with you and be here for you if your diocese says no on your being taken into Holy Orders, trained and ordained a priest.]


#13

There are quite a few in the secular professions - teacher, doctors, lawyers etc. - who do suffer Bipolar which is controlled with medication. These do continue in their careers/professions quite successfully. No reason, hence, why suchshould be excluded from religious life or the priesthood - although it is up to each diocese or religious order whom they do accept and whom they do not but very often attitudes in this direction can come from the past, when mental illness in many was not so well controlled even with medication.

Hence mental illness information often needs updating to be more realistic and educated, factual.

Indeed “seek and you shall find” and there are now religious orders anyway (do not know about diocese and the diocesan priesthood) who may consider a sufferer of mental illness in complete control with medication providing of course that such medication is not overly expensive. Keep searching.

TS


#14

Maybe you’d be better off saying “could” here. LOL! I am moderately clinically depressed and my depression is easily and well controlled with medication. Knowing this about myself, dealing with it, and attending secular therapy and spiritual counseling has actually made me stronger and better able to deal with despair than the average person, IMO.

I have a saying: The crazy people are the ones who don’t THINK they’re crazy. :smiley:


#15

Why would it be? With the priest shortage, I'd think they'd let people who where suffering from depression (yet taking medication) be accepted in?


#16

[quote="turtle18, post:5, topic:203581"]
But I've know another order that was willing to accept people with bipolar disorder as long as it was controlled by medicine. So you never really know.

Seek and you shall find. :)

[/quote]

Turtle, could you please share what order you are referring to?

God bless you.


#17

[quote="cecilia97, post:14, topic:203581"]
Maybe you'd be better off saying "could" here. LOL! I am moderately clinically depressed and my depression is easily and well controlled with medication. Knowing this about myself, dealing with it, and attending secular therapy and spiritual counseling has actually made me stronger and better able to deal with despair than the average person, IMO.

I have a saying: The crazy people are the ones who don't THINK they're crazy. :D

[/quote]

I have a saying: The crazy people are the ones who don't THINK they're crazy

:thumbsup:

I have heard that in psychiatric circles it is said that it is not the one's that seek treatment and abide by it that worry us, we really worry about the ones that don't seek it and need it - and think that they dont need to do so.
So called 'normality' or 'normal' can be said to be an ever shifting imaginary line about what is acceptable and not acceptable within any given society. It is what is most common and acceptable in society and builds up society, contributes to society, assists society to survive. To illustrate this, not so many years ago as society travels, a person with any sort of mental disorder was looked upon as near on possessed by the devil and totally marginalized and rejected. Then the imaginary line shifted and society largely through the successful use of medications in those who were ill after all, began to accept those with mental illness - to make some room for them and allowances for the problems their illnesses could present. Society began to update its knowledge about mental illness to come in line with more accurate and truthful understandings from those that existed in the middle ages. In some countries to descriminate against a sufferer of MI because of the illness became illegal - the line is shifting further. Then the imaginary line shifts even further again and people who did have a mental illness and were successfully treated including with medication were able to return to the workforce, even to their professions and careers - and very successfully too! The line shifts even more and some countries do not call people "disabled" rather the term used is "abled person" - think about it.

Many quite famous people who made outstanding contributions to society suffered mental illness, including Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln - for a fairly reliable list go to HERE
Most probably have seen the award winning movie "A Beautiful Mind" which is the true story of Nobel Laureate in Economics, John Forbes Nash Jr. He had a lifetime of the most serious of all mental illnesses: schizophrenia.

The Church is also a society or community and if we look at our history, we can see how this imaginary line has shifted at times over the years. The Church however shifts this line very very very slowly and with great care before it is shifted - and those with mental illness are still on the wrong side of that line in the main. Let us hope and pray for that shifting line for the future. Religious life and the priesthood can present great strains at times and stress, demands - but so does secular life for sure, and many sufferers of MI are making excellent contributions to society and living stable lives and probably often with daily medication as with any other illness. Mental illness is often a dysfunction somewhere in the brain and hence is often a physical illness like any other, that affects mental functioning and hence "mental illness" can be something of a misnomer conveying a completely wrong understanding at times. The brain is an organ of the body just as is the heart, lungs, kidney, liver etc. and like any organ in the body it can develop problems.
Thankfully, very thankfully to God, nowadays medicine is making absolutely amazing breakthroughs at times where illness is concerned, including medication for treating various mental disorders (so termed) which allows those who do suffer some forms of illness to lead normal(so termed) lives and function just as normally (so termed) as any other person, in fact sometimes as good as or even better.

TS


#18

[quote="jamesic, post:1, topic:203581"]
Hi.

Would suffering from depression and taking anti-depressants be a problem for entering the priesthood?,so far I have had mixed messages both from my pastor and people who I have contacted on the internet, some say it wouldn't be a problem others say it would be.

What I am looking for is a bit of clarification on the issue and would appreciate any advice from those who are living their vocations and those like me who are discerning.

I know that nothing is certain in life and must be prepared for any eventuality, but the Priesthood is something I feel more and more drawn too.

Thank you for your time.

[/quote]

James,

You should research natural treatments for depression, especially magnesium (best forums are: Taurate, Citrate and Glycinate). George Eby has a website about his full recovery. There are many success stories using magnesium, found on google, forums on google and vitamin website reviews.

Good luck to you and prayers.


#19

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