Posted by: jedwardswright | October 4, 2010

Depression and Christianity

I’m never one to steer clear of controversial topics, am I?

While much of what I am writing about here may apply to other religious groups, I am going to stick to what I know. Take away what helps you in your journey, and God bless you!

The Church has come a long way in its understanding of mental illness in the last decade or two. There are recovery groups in some congregations, and even Christian psychologists on staff at a few of the larger churches. Every step forward is a victory over ignorance and misunderstanding, so we need to celebrate and appreciate the progress that has been made. Naturally though, there are still issues that a Christian person with depression is liable to encounter at one time or another.

Most Christians do recognize the need to seek medical treatment when serious accidents or illness strike. If your child is hit by a car, you want the ambulance there immediately! If your mother has a suspicious lump on her breast, you want her to call the doctor’s office now! After securing medical care, then we call our prayer warriors to intercede on behalf of our loved ones.

Prayer and seeking a deeper relationship with God are definitely positive actions for people struggling with depression as well, but for most of us, it is not enough. Yet there are still many members of the Christian community who mistakenly believe that depression, as well as other mental health conditions, needs to be dealt with on a spiritual level alone.

Some well-meaning church people may imply that professional help is not needed. In some cases, the speaker even intimates that seeing a counselor (especially a secular therapist) and/or psychiatrist would demonstrate a lack of faith, or even expose the depressed Christian to negative influences. Most modern pastors and theologians now support psychological and psychiatric treatment for Christian believers, but change takes time, and not everyone in the Christian community understands yet the physical illness commonly called depression. Don’t be discouraged from seeking the help that you need. If at any time you feel that the professional you are seeing is not supportive of your faith, it is time to look for another doctor or counselor.

After almost forty years of dealing with depression, almost all of which I spent in relationship with our Lord, I can tell you with a great deal of conviction these things that I have learned.

  • We have a physical illness/medical condition, not a spiritual problem or an attitude problem.
  • God has given us doctors and medicines as a gift of love, and so we ought to allow them to help us as much as possible.
  • If you and I had diabetes, and our doctors recommended that we take insulin, we would take insulin, and not be fussing over whether that was all right with God, or if we were copping out spiritually.  Taking antidepressants  is the same thing.
  • Psychiatrists are medical doctors with a specialty. If you have heart problems, you go to see a cardiologist. If you have arthritis, you go to a rheumatologist. If you have depression, you go to see a psychiatrist. It’s that simple.
  • The sooner we start medical treatment, the better off we will be.

Prayer and meditation are good for our physical bodies as well as our souls. This is not only the experience of yours truly, but the conclusion of the medical profession in general.

Keep praying and trusting in God to be with you.  As Christians, we are to pray in all circumstances at all times. God has helped me through a lot of difficult trials, and He is our best help in trouble. At the same time, I urge you to be open to help from other sources, because angels do walk among us, and some of them wear white coats and stethoscopes.

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Responses

  1. So true!

  2. Good day!This was a really superb topic!
    I come from roma, I was luck to search your Topics in google
    Also I learn much in your website really thanks very much i will come later

  3. God has blessed me with close friends who helped save my life. They referred me to my counselor, who helped me get to the root of depression and help me work through it. I praise God for working through doctors, nurses, counselors, and psychiatrists.

    • How wonderful that the right people were placed in your life to help when you needed it most! The more people become aware and informed, (within the chursh and in the greater community as well) the more stories like yours there will be.


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