Iron Deficiency and Biblical Counseling? 
He who gives an answer before he hears, It is folly and shame to him. (Pro 18:13  NASB) 

In teaching biblical counseling and in medicine, it is good to emphasize the importance of getting as much factual information as we can before we decide what the diagnosis is and what to do about it. So the writer of Proverbs tells
to listen long before we answer. 

In biblical counseling we are often faced with counselees who are labeled with DSM5 diagnoses including bipolar disorder, depressive disorder, ADHD, and anxiety disorder. We have been encouraged for years to believe that
these disorders were due to chemical imbalances in the brain tied to the levels of serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. But, an article published June 4 in BMC: Psychiatry, states that a common health problem in children may be connected to a greater risk of being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, ADHD and autism.[i] 

The study conducted in Taiwan looked at the risk of being diagnosed with these disorders in 2957 children and adolescents with a diagnosis of iron deficiency compared to 11,828 healthy control subjects. The results indicated that children who are iron deficient have a significant increase of 2 to 5 times the risk of being identified with one of the disorders as children with normal iron levels. The article speculates on a connection between iron levels and  neurotransmitters. 

This is very important to all of us who counsel strugglers with these labels. Of all the homework assignments that I might give in the first hour of counseling, seeing a physician for a complete exam with appropriate lab work may be one of the most important. We really do not want to be counseling someone for any of these disorders who really has iron deficiency or some other medical disorder. The only way to know for certain is for the counselee to see a doctor. 
The best part of it is that when we do send someone to the doctor and a correctible physical problem is found, the patient may well recover without another counseling session. And, that should make us all smile. 

 Association between psychiatric disorders and iron deficiency anemia among children and adolescents: a nationwide population-based study
 Mu-Hong Chen1, Tung-Ping Su1,2, Ying-Sheue  Chen1, Ju-Wei  Hsu1, Kai-Lin Huang1, Wen-Han  Chang1, Tzeng-Ji
3,4 and Ya-Mei  Bai1,2
 BMC  Psychiatry  2013, 13:161 doi:10.1186/1471-244X-13-161

John Schlaack
7/4/2013 12:43:34 am

Thanks for helpful advice!
It would seem that some doctors don't know or don't bother running these types of tests when it comes to these type of problems. So I am wondering if there is list of blood tests and other tests that one could ask a doctor to run to determine if there is something wrong in the body?

Charles Hodges
7/4/2013 01:07:48 am

Hello John, A good list of labs that would screen for many things would include a cbc (complete blood count) complete metabolic panel (CMP) TSH (thyroid) and a vitamin D level. There are other tests to be done, but they are usually indicated by the history or physical exam. These tests can be done at labs independent of hospitals for around 100$. The important is to have a good connection to a trusted physician. Thank you for your comment.


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