What is the key question to ask?

How do you tell if they need a doctor?

Pastors, leaders, managers, counsellors and of course spouses are on the front lines of mental health far more than doctors. You are usually the first person to notice when someone is sliding into depression and you are likely the first person that the sufferer will turn to for help. People only come to doctors when they have run out of other options.

So what should you do when you see someone struggling with depression, anxiety or mood swings? You need to know the key question to ask.

For many people who are struggling with daily life issues, time and rest is all they need. Others will improve after talking to a friend or colleague. If that doesn’t help then a professional counsellor can be of great assistance. What should you do though, when those treatments don’t seem to help and a person continues to slide deeper into depression or anxiety? How do you know when they need medical treatment for a chemical imbalance mood disorder?

Here’s the question you can ask that has been the biggest help to me in my mental health career.

“Can you shut your mind off?”

This is the most valuable question that can help determine if someone needs medical treatment. The hallmark symptom of chemical imbalance is the inability to stop or control thoughts. When this happens, you can’t stop a continuous stream of sad, down, pessimistic, hopeless or anxious thoughts.

If the person you are trying to help admits they can’t stop the bad thoughts and they feel overwhelmed, then it’s time to consider seeing a doctor. A quick and easy tool to use is the information on our web site at the link “Am I normal?” There you will find checklists of symptoms that a person can compare themselves to. You can print out the lists and take them to a doctor to discuss medical treatment.

We have two DVD’s that will help you understand depression from a Christian perspective. Just click on the names below and you can watch five minute previews.

Moods: What Christians should know about depression, anxiety and mood swings.
Depression, The Path to Recovery

So the next time you are concerned about someone’s mental health, ask the right question and you’ll know if it’s time to see a doctor.

I have created books, seminars and recordings that will easily explain the diagnosis and treatment of mood disorders from a Christian perspective. You can see links to many of my resources here.

Leadership Q & A

  1. What is the best church growth strategy?
  2. Are you burning out?
  3. Is suicide the unpardonable sin?
  4. Can a person be too supportive of your ministry?
  5. Are you afraid of psychiatry?
  6. What is the unpardonable sin?
  7. Is fear a sin?
  8. Is counselling your gift?
  9. What is the key question to ask?
  10. Does depression have spiritual symptoms?
  11. Is your church “seeker friendly?”

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