Book Review – Good Mood Bad Mood: Help and Hope for Depression and Bipolar Disorder

Title: Good Mood Bad Mood:  Help and Hope for Depression and Bipolar Disorder
Author:  Charles D. Hodges
Publisher:  Shepherd Press
Publishing Year: 2012
Pages: 191
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 (1 meaning I hated the book, 5 meaning I loved the book)

In light of recent tragic events, there has been much focus on the mental health of our country.  I think this a good step forward as we seek to minister to hurting people in need of the love of Christ.  The dirty little secret is that depression is not something that happens out there in the world.  Even those within the four walls of our local churches struggle with depression and bipolar disorders.  We need to start this conversation and shed the light of Scripture all over this.  This is why I jumped at the chance to review Good Mood Bad Mood:  Help and Hope for Depression and Bipolar Disorder.

The basic premise of this book is that depression is often misdiagnosed and suffering people are facing the same problem as the woman with an issue of blood in Luke 8:43-44.  This woman suffered this chronic despite the fact that she had seen many doctors.  Today, suggests the author, doctors are at a loss as for the exact cause of depression and are not even sure exactly on how come to the right criteria to diagnose it properly.  Often common theories such chemical imbalances do not stand up to critical analysis.  However, Dr. Hodges urges us to look beyond the field of medicine and to the Great Physician Himself.  God has designed the human body in such a way to use pain, suffering and even bouts of depression to mold us into His image.

I have to admit, there are parts of this book I find troubling.  I am very concerned that Dr. Hodges seems to discount any physical or medical issues that may cause depression.  He even suggests at one point that patients taking anxiety medication are not much better off than those using placebos.   Though he does make it clear that he is not recommending anyone go off their prescribed medication and does include a short appendix in the back of the book addressing some medical conditions that may lead to depression and bipolar disorders, these seem to be downplayed.

One could also get the wrong impression that depressed feelings can be simply “gotten over.”  There is very little talk of struggling and journeying through.  You almost get the idea that victory in this area comes simply and quickly as soon as you recognize God’s role in your suffering.  I also wandered why there was no mention of the local church.  The Body ought to be bearing the burdens of the weak, weeping with those who weep – reminding each other that you are not alone in this fight.

However, there are many helpful thoughts that Dr. Hodges give us in these pages that makes this book worth reading and considering.  The fact of the matter is that while there are people who may need legitimate medical treatment, we do live in an over-medicated society.  Especially in the area of mental health, we are quick to look for solace in a pill rather than face some difficult realities.  For example, mourning the loss of a loved one should naturally bring about sadness and even depression.  We are commanded to weep at times.  We also see God’s use of difficult times to test and strengthen us as part of His loving plan for our lives.  And, of course, we must recognize that oftentimes depression and sadness are the result of sin and poor choices.  The pain suffered during these occasions is meant to lead us to repentance (II Corinthians 7:8-11).

The book is very gospel-centered and uses the Word of God in appropriate and powerful ways.  You can tell this doctor has a passion for the Lord, His Word and His people.  God’s sovereignty plays a prominent role in this book and in Dr. Hodges’ counseling philosophy.

While I have my concerns with some aspects of this book, it is still worth the read.  I think we all know people who struggle with depression in various forms and ways.  It’s high time we started talking about this openly and make it point to reach out in love to those who are hurting.  This book may be a tool you should consider reading as you seek to love your neighbor.

Disclaimer: This book was provided by the publisher for review. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.

You can purchase the book here.

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3 responses

  1. […] “I think we all know people who struggle with depression in various forms and ways. It’s high time we started talking about this openly and make it point to reach out in love to those who are hurting. This book may be a tool you should consider reading as you seek to love your neighbor.” -Kevin Thompson (bringmethebooks.wordpress.com) […]

  2. Kevin,

    Thanks for contributing to the blog tour. I apreciate your honesty with what you found concerning in the book. All things considered though I think Good Mood, Bad Mood is a good resource to draw the church into being more aware, so we can better minister to family, friends, and fellow parishioners who are struggling with depression.

    Shaun Tabatt
    Cross Focused Reviews

  3. Thank you very much for reading the book and your review. I think the most helpful part of all the secular research that I used was the concept of normal versus disorder sadness in “The Loss of Sadness” by Horwitz and Wakefield. Depression before 1980 was disordered sadness or sadness that had no obvious cause. Normal sadness had an event that brought it. When I explained this to a friend who had suffered a considerable loss, she said she went home with hope. “I am not sick, I am just sad.” I think this concept would be useful to Pastors, counselors and anyone trying to help. Christianity has answers for sorrow and sadness. I aimed the book at the 90% who appear to have normal sadness because I thought they had the most to gain from understanding the difference.

    I absolutely agree with you about the role of the Church in counseling. My work in counseling is done in a local church. It is great help to have the body of Christ around to encourage, pray for, strengthen and hold accountable the person you want to help with counseling from the scriptures.
    Again thank you for the review.
    Charles Hodges MD

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