Christ and Culture

Kristin Kellen: Anxiety, Depression, and Mental Health

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In Christ & Culture podcast with Drs. Ken Keathley and Benjamin Quinn, we explore how the Christian faith intersects all avenues of today’s culture through conversations with leading thinkers.

Today’s Episode: What does faith have to do with mental health? Dr. Kristin Kellen is an assistant professor of biblical counseling, and she joins us to explain what’s behind rising rates of anxiety and depression and how we should respond. Plus, in our segment, “In the News,” Drs. Keathley and Quinn help us think wisely about the 20th anniversary of September 11, and in “On My Bookshelf” Dr. Quinn recommends a classic book on spiritual disciplines.

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We weren’t meant to live in isolation.

Highlights from the Episode:

  • Are increased conversations about mental health good?
    “I’m glad that the stigma around mental health is diminishing, quickly I think — that we’re normalizing counseling and therapy. Because we are both body and soul. Proper anthropology, biblical anthropology is that we are both body and soul. We cannot simply treat medical issues. We need to treat spiritual, mental, heart issues — the nonphysical things. I’m glad we’re having those conversations.”
  • What are anxiety and depression?
    “Anxiety and depression both fall under the disturbing emotions category…. Anxiety is very much related to fear in the sense that it is fear situated in the future…. Anxiety is this internalized fear of something bad. Depression is in someways centered around hopelessness…. Sometimes what comes with depression is sadness; sometimes not. I like to think of it in terms of hopelessness.”
  • What do anxiety and depression do to our bodies?
    “The unique thing about both of these is that there’s a physical component to each one. All of us can probably remember when we got very anxious about something; our heart started racing, our muscles got tense, that fight or flight was activated in us because we thought there was a threat or a danger. That gets activated within us, that happens physically with anxiety. With depression, similar things happen, it’s just not fight or flight. Our body feels weighty, or heavy, or unclear. We think about depression and people describe it as if they’re in a fog… These are physical, cognitive, and emotional things that happen in people, and they’re difficult.”
  • Why did the pandemic lead to a spike in mental health problems?
    “I remember back at the beginning of the pandemic telling my husband, ‘If this lasts for more than a couple of months, we’re going to see a spike in counseling in anxiety, depression, and marital counseling.’ I think it’s because we weren’t meant to live in isolation. So when we have these problematic emotions, these struggles, God made us to live in community and to be able to get help within our community. What COVID did was it isolated us, it separated us, such that we didn’t have a way to process these feelings. And certainly COVID plays off our fears… and this helplessness.”

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The Christ and Culture podcast with Drs. Ken Keathley and Benjamin Quinn seeks to connect faith with every aspect of your life.

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