Sunday, April 7, 2013

Why Your Pastor Might Be Depressed Right Now

Many pastors finished up their sermons a couple hours ago. This was the climax of a week or more worth of preparation. He’s spoken to many in his flock. And now it’s Sunday afternoon and he needs a nap.

For some pastors feelings of discouragement, anxiety, and depression will begin to kick in. This really isn’t unique to pastors. Even if you aren’t a pastor I’m guessing that you have had times of a great spiritual high, only to find yourself the next day feeling like a total schmuck. This experience is what Archibald Hart calls “Post-adrenaline depression”. He describes it this way:

“…what I was experiencing was a profound shutdown of my adrenal system, following a period of high stress or demand. It was as i my adrenal system were saying, “That’s enough abuse for now; let’s give it a break,” and shut down so that I had no choice in the matter.”

23272824Sometimes we experience this because we are adrenaline junkies. On occasion this is our experience because the season demands that all we have to rely upon is God-given adrenaline. The problem is that we often abuse adrenaline. We get addicted to the highs and become pleasure-seeking adrenaline junkies. So, whether you are addicted to adrenaline or you just crash after big events there is wisdom in understanding post-adrenaline depression.

So, what do we do when we crash? How do we fight post-adrenaline depression? Hart’s suggestion may seem surprising: “cooperate with it”. He further explains. “When the adrenal system crashes its need for rejuvenation far exceeds my need just to feel good. In fact, the mood that it creates is deliberately designed to slow me down so that recovery can take place.”

Rather than fighting this feeling it is best to listen to its message. Try to relax. Do not try to find more adrenaline by ski-diving on your day off, just rest, do low-grade activity. As a pastor it may be wise not to take your day off on Monday (or me on Thursday) but rather do “easy” things in the office to recover. Take your day off when you could actually enjoy it.

Hart offers a few more helpful suggestions for dealing with this:

  • As soon as possible after the activity is over, go aside and relax for a while.
  • Allow the low mood to come over you, welcoming it as your friend.
  • Pay attention to what the “healing” process feels like in your body; it’s not really unpleasant if you interpret it as something good.
  • Continue to relax for as long as possible, without tackling any task awaiting you, giving priority to your recovery.
  • When you feel like it, mark time by doing routine, low-adrenaline demand activities”
  • If you are feeling depressed, accept the feeling as part of the recover process—it has no other significance, so don’t try to interpret your feeling or believe any of the negative self-talk that always accompanies it

What do you think? Good advice? What are areas where this thought can be developed further? How might this be difficult to follow? If you are interested in what Hart has to say I would suggest these two books: Unmasking Male Depression, Adrenaline and Stress.

This is also a call for church members to pray for their pastors in seasons when he’ll have an adrenaline high. For me personally, I usually crash late Sunday evening and Thursday’s.


Originally posted here

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