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
Chen3,4 and Ya-Mei Bai1,2*
BMC Psychiatry 2013, 13:161 doi:10.1186/1471-244X-13-161