The Catholic Guide to Depression

by Aaron Kheriaty, MD with Fr. John Cihak, STD

Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D.


In these pages, experienced Catholic psychiatrist Aaron Kheriaty reviews the effective ways that have recently been devised to deal with this grave and sometimes deadly affliction that are not only consistent with the teachings of the Church, but even rooted in many of those teachings. Extensive clinical experience treating patients with depression has shown Dr. Kheriaty that the confessional can’t cure neuroses, nor can the couch forgive sins. Healing comes only when we integrate the legitimate discoveries of modern psychology and pharmacology with spiritual direction and the sacraments, giving particular attention to the wisdom of the Church Fathers and the saints Here, with the expert help of Dr. Kheriaty, you’ll learn how to distinguish depression from similar-looking but fundamentally different mental states such as guilt, sloth, the darkness of sin, and the sublime desolation called “the dark night of the soul” That is, in fact, a privileged spiritual trial sent to good souls as a special gift from God.


You’ll come to know how to identify the various types of depression and come to understand the interplay of their often manifold causes, biological, psychological, behavioral, cultural, and, yes, moral. Then you’ll learn about exciting breakthroughs in pharmacological and other medical treatments, the critical place that spiritual direction must have in your healing, and the vital role that hope can play in driving out depression. For those less-frequent cases when the pain of depression can’t be fully banished by the combined efforts of science and spiritually, Dr. Kheriaty shows how pain like the unavoidable sufferings of Jesus on the Cross can be made redemptive for yourself and for others.


To this masterful, hope-filled work Dr. Kheriaty has appended a list of resources for further reading, a set of prayers for those times when the anguish of depression grows great, and even an address by Pope John Pail II about depression. This book provides help and consolation to anyone suffering from this grave spiritual affliction. And it affords friends, loved ones, pastors, and spiritual directors the knowledge they need to give depression persons the understanding, help, and comfort they so desperately need.


“ The spread of depressive states has become disturbing. They reveal human, psychological and spiritual frailties which, at least in part are induced by society. It is important to become aware of the effect of people of messages conveyed by the media which exalt consumerism, the immediate satisfaction of desires and the race for ever greater material well-being It is necessary to propose new ways so that each person may build his or her own personality by cultivating spiritual life, the foundation of a mature existence. The enthusiastic participation in the World Youth Day shows that the young generations are seeking Someone who illuminate their daily journey, giving them good reasons for living and helping them to face their difficulties.” An important book to read.

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