Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Hope Prevails by Dr. Michelle Bengtson

From Goodreads
As a board-certified neuropsychologist, Dr. Michelle Bengtson sees the devastation of depression. Early on, she practiced the most effective treatments and prescribed them for her clients. But when she experienced depression herself, she found that the treatments she had recommended were lacking. Her experience showed her the missing component in treating depression. 
In "Hope Prevails," Dr. Bengtson writes with deep compassion, blending her training and faith, to offer readers a hope grounded in God's love and grace. She helps readers understand what depression is, how it affects them spiritually, and what, by God's grace, it cannot do. The result is an approach that offers the hope of release, not just the management of symptoms.
For those who struggle with depression and those who want to help them, "Hope Prevails" offers hope for the future.

Depression is a common mental health disorder, and it's one that captured my attention a few years back when I began to better understand the human body and mind. While the effects of depression may be severe or mild, and the causes of depression vary depending on the person, most people have either struggled with it themselves or know someone who has. Reading about mental health disorders as a Christian calls for caution and discernment--not all authors are grounded in Scripture, and not all authors portray the healing process accurately. I have only read one other book on this topic, that being David Murray's Christians Get Depressed, Too (a good book!). 

Depression is a legitimate health disorder, and while that does not provide liberty for sin, we should understand it's effects and background in order to treat it. Dr. Michelle Bengtson uses her personal journey through depression to write this book. Being a neuropsychologist, one would expect her to have a certain amount of knowledge and techniques to enable a person to heal; however, when she herself walked through depression, she found her techniques weren't helping in the way she expected. She wrote this book, as a result of her findings and spiritual journey through a difficult time of life. Perhaps the most effective counselors and doctors are the ones who have suffered in the same way. 

In the first chapter Bengtson defines depression. This a vital chapter because many people do not know what it is exactly: there are physical symptoms, yes, but the mental side of depression is huge as well. Depressed people often feel alone (or are actually alone) in their suffering, and so Bengtson also writes this book to bring comfort and healing to the hurting. She includes a "My Prayer for You" section at the end of each chapter, along with questions that guide the reader and give insight into the causes and effects of their depression. Perhaps my favorite part of this book is the list of songs, Bengtson provides with each chapter. They are meant to guide the reader toward worshiping God, finding encouragement in Scripture, and creating an uplifting mindset. 

Bengtson then lists the underlying causes of depression: chemical makeup of the brain, genetics, depression as a secondary symptom, depression as a reaction to life events, and the spiritual roots of depression. Those who struggle with depression must understand that, as believers, they have an enemy. This enemy seeks to destroy their mind daily, leading them to believe the lies they've heard and continue sinning mentally, rather than replacing those lies with Bible. Bengtson doesn't leave it there, however. She follows up these chapters in the next many pages about recovering joy, reclaiming peace, reestablishing identity, knowing your worth and destiny, and finding healing in God's love. 

She concludes the book with chapters on how God uses our pain to ensure victory if we allow Him to work through the physical and mental tears. The testing of our faith and the darkness that surrounds us is not meant to be forever, for there is a way of hope if we guard our minds, seek therapy and counsel, and take care of our spirit and body. Taking care of our spirit is one of the ways to hope. We must spend time in God's presence, stay anchored in the Word, pray, obey, take time for praise and gratitude, and trust God to lead us into the light in His timing.

Bengtson uses Scripture to demonstrate a pathway of healing for those with depression, while not ignoring sin or merely dismissing depression as "something a Christian shouldn't have". Perhaps one example of a man who struggled with depression was King David, and through his pain and heartache, God brought him through troubled times with a renewed focus on the Messiah who was to come and the God who loved him forever. So glad I requested this book. 

*I received this book free from Revell Books through the Baker Books Bloggers program. The opinions expressed are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.


  1. This sounds like a really good book. I like the fact that she has personal experience as a counselor and also as someone who's walked through this. Thanks for the recommendation! :)


  2. This is a wonderful book that everyone should read. :-)


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