A new study is suggesting that members of the clergy are more susceptible to suffering from depression and anxiety conditions. The study was conducted by researchers from the Clergy Health Initiative at Duke Divinity School.
During the study, researchers analyzed data collected from more than 1,700 United Methodist pastors. What they learned was that the pastors’ chances of suffering from one of the condition were between 8.7 and 11.1 percent, which is comparison to the national rate of 5.5 percent. This information is significant since clergy members are generally expected to provide their parishioners with comfort while offering them inspiration, leading the community and encouraging social change.
“These are responsibilities that you would really want a mentally healthy person be engaged in, and yet it may be the challenges of those responsibilities that might be driving these high rates of depression,” Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell, the Clergy Health Initiative’s research director, says.
Proeschold-Bell says that many variables come into play when it comes to why clergy are so susceptible to depression and anxiety disorders. Since pastors feel they’ve been called to their work by God, they are more likely to see their occupations as more important than others.
“If I have a bad day doing research, I can go home and relax and start again tomorrow,” said Proeschold-Bell. “A clergy person goes home after a long and hard day and they are questioning themselves: ‘Did I take the right course of action? Did I do what God wanted me to do?'”
Clergy members often preside over funerals as well, which is likely to increase their chances of thinking about their own mortality as well. A large list of factors come into play when understanding why clergy is more likely to become depressed. This is alarming when treatments for the conditions can also cause them problems. Since many patients are treated with antidepressant medications like Paxil and Effexor, the dangers linked to the pills should be considered before offering them. Patients taking Paxil and Effexor are at an increased risk of suffering from violent and suicidal thoughts and behaviors.