Depression Screening

Depression Screening

Written on 05/06/2024
Rod Hugen

Our family doctor had decided to do a routine depression screening as part of her examinations. The young receptionist handed me a clipboard with a sheet of questions. “Please answer these honestly,” she said, “and if there are things you'd like to share with the doctor, let her know.”

I answered the questions as honestly and thoroughly as I could. I handed the clipboard back to the receptionist and sat down. Eventually the tech called my name and escorted me to the examination room. Blood pressure: good. Blood sugar: steady. Pulse slightly high. Weight: let’s not talk about weight. I steeled myself for the inevitable lecture.

My doctor is a fine doctor. She is very conscientious and thorough. She cares a lot about her patients. We’ve been with her for years and greatly appreciate her. Besides, she was the only primary care doctor who would accept our insurance and who was taking new patients when we moved to Tucson. I scanned my phone while I waited for her to appear in the examination room. An ad for a new diet regimen popped up on my newsfeed. Great.

Dr. Iveson walked in looking deeply concerned. “Hi, Rod. Are you doing OK?”

“I'm fine,” I responded cheerily, hoping she hadn’t noticed the weight thing. “Just here so you can try to find something wrong with me.”

“I'm wondering about some of your responses to the depression screening,” she murmured, “particularly that you often think about death and dying. Talk to me about that.”

“Oh, well, I'm a pastor.” I laughed. “We think and talk about life and death issues all the time. It’s kind of part of the job description.”

“Really? I thought that was the realm of counselors.”

“It is. But people often talk to pastors about the big things of life, so it’s a fairly common occurrence for me to engage the subjects.”

She frowned. “I guess I don’t know exactly what pastors do. I’ve never been to a church, so I don’t really know what happens there. I assumed that you just talked about God and being a good person and things like that. I didn’t realize you counseled people.”

“Well, when you talk about God, you’re talking about something transcendent. So we spend a lot of time exploring mystery and the unknown. People come to us to gain understanding about things that are beyond the scope of the visible, with questions about death, suffering, and what happens after we die. Christian pastors explore those things with people all the time. We particularly engage from the perspective of the Bible.”

“Wow! Who knew? I guess I need to explore that more. That said, I wonder if you are mildly depressed. Perhaps a visit to a specialist would be in order. I can refer you to some excellent doctors.”

She wrote the referral.

She then noted that I had put on some weight. That was depressing.