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  • Writer's picturePatrick Norris

73. Dr. Todd Bowman - Experiences and Recovery from Depression

Welcome to Episode #73 of the Red Ink Revival Leadership Podcast. Today’s conversation is with Dr. Todd Bowman as we talk through the theology, philosophy, and neurobiology of depression. Depression plagues 40 million adults in the US, with 70% of pastors reporting that they have an ongoing struggle with it. So, what is depression? How does it affect so many of us? What can be done about it once it is known? This is a must listen for everyone–especially pastors and church leaders–to both understand your own struggles with depression, and to lead someone else who struggles.

Dr. Bowman is the Associate Professor of Counseling at Indiana Wesleyan University. He is an Adjunct Professor for Human Sexuality at Nazarene Theological Seminary. He is an Adjunct Professor of the Intro to Psychology at Nazarene Bible College. He also is an assessing psychologist for evaluating seminary applicants for ministry training.

Our conversation takes us into the following:

  • The difference between emotional disappointment, moderate depression, and clinical depression.

  • Our present culture that struggles to acknowledge sadness.

  • The painful symptoms and definitions on the spectrum of depression.

  • How severe depression can happen in a moment and seemingly come out of nowhere.

  • The inheritable factors that can predispose us to depression.

  • When medication is necessary.

  • Dr. Jordan Peterson’s depression struggle triggered by diet.

  • Epigenetics and susceptibility to depression.

  • Diet, sleep, and exercise as ways to mitigate the struggle.

  • How dramatic extremes and the ensuing arousal has emotional consequences.

  • How identifying emotionally as a victim, powerless to move forward, shapes depressive episodes.

  • Words we use that unknowingly point to victimhood and powerlessness.

  • Abdication of responsibility as a precursor to mild depression.

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy and tools that help discover the roots of mild depression.

  • How engaging our historical story will help expose the roots that drive us.

  • What anxiety, grief, and anger have to do with depression.

  • The difference between anger and rage.

  • How depression can show up as irritability or avoidance.

  • The powerful tools of boundaries.

  • The brain’s victimization circuits versus empowerment circuits.

  • The drama triangle as a way to understand how depression grips us.

  • How our relationship roles of victim, persecutor, and rescuer set us up for emotional dysregulation.

  • The debilitating nature of a double bind–deciding between two undesirable options.

  • The pastor and church leader dilemma around holding boundaries with people and why depression is so common.

  • How worship, prayer, and faith cannot overcome our choice to stay in the drama triangle as a victim.

  • The importance of having co-regulating relationships like therapists, colleagues, and process friendships.

  • How depression grows in the soil of regrets and missed opportunities.

  • How gratitude can shift emotional states and re-encode the memories for positivity.

  • Expressive writing as a tool to help navigate through emotional difficulties.

  • Inviting Jesus to experience the emotional challenges with us as an empathetic partner.

  • How unprocessed trauma gives birth to anxiety, rage, and depression.

  • An overview of tools to recover from depression and move to peace and joy.

If you have questions you would like addressed in a future episode, topics you would enjoy hearing, or just want to give us feedback, we would love to hear from you. Email us at

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Edited and produced by Evan (Emac) McAlister.

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