Good Mood, Bad Mood by Charles D Hodges MD is a useful and readable book on how to help people who feel sad or who suffer from depression.  I would say it is invaluable for anyone wanting to offer help and hope to anyone suffering in this way.  The book is full of godly wisdom and medical insights.  As a practicing physician and Christian counsellor, Dr Hodges is well qualified to discuss these issues with wisdom, compassion and knowledge.  It is not a long book, nor is it filled with medical jargan.  It is easily accessible to anyone with an interest in such matters.

In the first three chapters, Dr Hodges looks at the way society views depression.  The next two chapters discuss the fact that the emotion of sadness is now often diagnosed as depression, leading to sadness being classed as a disease rather than a normal emotion.  The second half of the book examines the hope that God offers through His Word when we struggle with problems and emotions such as sadness, anger and worry.  In the final two chapters (14 and 15), Dr Hodges unpacks bipolar disorder and how sufferers can be helped.

I liked the fact that Dr Hodges uses examples from the Bible, as well as case studies from his own practice, to look at real people suffering genuine problems and emotions.  He shows our sympathetic and wise God who cares deeply about us when we go through hardships and sadness by looking at Mary, Martha and Lazarus in the New Testament.  He points out that sadness is a necessary emotion whose purpose is to drive us to God, as seen in the story of Hannah, Samuel’s mum, in the Old Testament.  Did you know that sadness is a gift from God?  The first time sorrow/sadness is mentioned in the Bible is when we have a description of the way God feels about creating mankind in the time of Noah – God was sad that He had created mankind because all we think of and do is sin (rebelling against God in one form or another).

Dr Hodges dispels various myths such as depression simply being a chemical inbalance in the brain.  He backs up his statements with medical research, science and the Bible.

There is definitely a place for medication and cognitive therapy for people suffering from depression.  Our problem in the West today is that all too often people are diagnosed with ‘depression’ when actually they are ‘sad’ for legitimate reasons – maybe the loss of a family member, being unable to have children, losing a job, illness.  Medics are sometimes quick to prescribe medication to help but, as Dr Hodges points out, very often the medication either doesn’t help or causes horrible side effects that require more treatment.  There is a definite place for Christians to listen to, pray with and learn to counsel people struggling with these problems.  People suffering with sadness, anger and worry desperately need the hope offered in God’s Word; they need to compassionately be told that God knows all about their problems and that He loves and cares for them.  People need the truth of the Bible spoken to them in love today.

Good Mood, Bad Mood is essential reading for anyone involved in counselling, especially in the church.  I cannot recommend it highly enough.  I suspect it is a book I will constantly be referring to and dipping in and out of.

My thanks Cross Focussed Reviews and Shepherd Press for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of a review.