Mental Illness, Nutrition, and Medicine

A friend of mine and I were recently talking about mental illnesses like ADHD, bi-polar disorder, depression, and mood swings.  Somewhere in the conversation he told me about this book: Blue Genes by Meier, Clements, Bertrand, and Mandt.  Since he’s a solid Christian and a good psychologist, I ordered it and read it right away.  I did find helpful – enough so to mention it here.

This book is sort of a short guide on certain mental illnesses – what they are, the brain chemicals involved, the nutritional side of things, and medicinal remedies.  There are real life stories scattered throughout the book that give hope for readers who are suffering mental illness (or know someone who is).  The chapters are devoted to certain illnesses such as paranoia, anxiety, post-partum depression, ADD/ADHD, depression, bi-polar disorders, and hormonal imbalances (among others).  The authors give helpful insights on sleep, vitamins, foods, and healthy habits.  I really appreciated how the authors talked about which medicines are typically best for different mental illnesses.  The book is written from a Christian perspective, but it isn’t really a theological guide on these things.

There are some weaknesses in Blue Genes.  I’m a little hesitant to agree with the authors’ view of dreams.  They believe that God sometimes communicates to people through dreams, so we should really interpret dreams.  I also was hoping for a more robustly biblical insight – such as a longer discussion about sin, sanctification, and trials in life (for just a few examples).  While it is a helpful book, it isn’t “the best ever.”  (As a side, I hope it is updated sooner than later, since there have been medical advances since the book’s publication in 2005).

As a pastor, friend, and father, I’ve had to deal with some of these mental illnesses first hand.  The are not imaginary, nor are they to be taken lightly.  There are such things as chemical imbalances and hormone deficiencies that need medical attention, prescription drugs, and counseling.  Of course, we shouldn’t throw a pill at every problem, but sometimes the problems are biological and pills definitely work.  This book helped me understand mental illnesses better.  I do recommend it.  It shouldn’t be the only book you read about mental illnesses, but it should for sure be one of them.

Meier, Clements, Bertrand, Mandt, Blue Genes (Carol Stream: Tyndale, 2005).

rev shane lems

4 thoughts on “Mental Illness, Nutrition, and Medicine”

  1. You might appreciate a work by friends of mine on these issues if you are not already aware of it. Steve and Robyn Bloem wrote Broken Minds: Hope For Healing When You Feel Like You’re “Losing It” (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2005); which is on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Broken-Minds-Healing-Youre-Losing/dp/0825421187 [accessed 19 AUG 2013]. Also see Steve and Robyn’s Heartfelt Counseling Ministries at http://www.heartfeltmin.org/ [accessed 17 AUG 2013].

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    1. John – yes, we for sure are familiar with it (you can use the “search” bar to see earlier posts on that book). In fact, I’m guessing Steve is reading this post and these comments. Thanks!

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      1. Guess my “overloaded circuits” are kicking in again! Duh! I even commented on one of your 3 previous posts highlighting the Bloem’s work! Blog posting and commenting inundation of taxed brain cells! Thanks for the reminder! LOL!

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  2. Re: dreams–they say there is a rabbinic saying, “An uninterpreted dream is an unopened letter”.
    Some might reply that an uninterpreted dream is unopened spam.

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