By Dr. Raul Nidoy
There are many factors behind depression. According to Mayo Clinic, causes include brain chemistry, hormones and inherited traits, while the risk factors include traumatic events, loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship, financial problems, low self-esteem and chronic illness.
“A therapist tells the story about a patient who had been in a terrible cycle of depression and self-disgust ever since high school. Nothing seemed to help. One day, the therapist met the patient in front of a Catholic church. They ducked inside when it began raining, and witnessed people going to confession.
‘Should I go too?’ asked the patient, who had received the sacrament as a child. ‘No!’ said the counselor. The patient went anyway, and emerged from the confessional with her first smile in years, and kept improving in the weeks to come. The therapist studied more about confession, eventually became Catholic and now counsels regular confession for all her Catholic patients.”
It is important to note that there is a difference between the professional work of a therapist who treats our bodily psychology and the spiritual work of a priest who acts in the person of Christ to heal our soul. Still it is important to know that since we are incarnate spirits, whatever happens to our spirit affects our body.
John Paul II taught: “The confessional is not, and cannot be, an alternative to the psychoanalyst or psychotherapist’s office, nor can one expect the Sacrament of Penance to heal truly pathological conditions. The confessor is not a physician or a healer in the technical sense of the term; in fact, if the condition of the penitent seems to require medical care, the confessor should not deal with the matter himself, but should send the penitent to competent and honest professionals.”
"We also know that sin not only harms our relationship with God but with others as well. In Confession there is the experience a sense of reintegration with a community: the priest represents the Church, the community of Christians, with whom the penitent is reconciled. All this is powerfully healing, and lifts a burden spiritually and psychologically.”
Jesus told St. Faustina that "greatest miracles" happen in Confession. God our compassionate Father himself acts to transform us from a vessel emptied of God to a vessel that is full of God. And so Blessed Alvaro, when asked about the happiest moment of his life, quickly responded: "Each time I receive God’s forgiveness in confession."
Confession: Simple Reasons, Simple Steps
Putting Confession at the Center: the strong recommendation of the Church for frequent of confession