The reason I feel led to write this article is because the misuse of antidepressants is at epidemic level, Christians included. Please read the following article:
Before I take a look at the subject of Christians and antidepressants, please read the following article that realistically takes a look at what depression is all about:
Realistically Looking at Depression.PDF
When I put this article together, I mostly wanted to stick to a medical and common sense aspect, but I must add that when we look at the Bible, we must not be ignorant of the fact that depression could be of a spiritual aspect:
Now the Spirit of the Lord had left Saul, and the Lord sent a tormenting spirit that filled him with depression and fear. Some of Saul’s servants said to him, “A tormenting spirit from God is troubling you.” (1 Samuel 16:14-15 NLT)
I have read many articles of how people take strong stands either for or against Christians taking anti-depressants. I ask that you read what is written here in its entirety to get fully what is being said. I do not have a Doctor’s degree, but I have been both a world class athlete in the marathon and I have studied the Bible most of my life. The reason why I mention about being a marathoner is that you learn how to be completely in-tune to your body and mind as a marathoner. With the Bible you learn how to be in-tune to your spirit. I have talked people out of suicide and have also seen the consequences of suicide. But the thing that had the biggest effect on me was holding and cradling one of my best friends in my arms that was having a total nervous breakdown. He was naked and out of his mind in the fetal position weeping like a baby.
I have just finished reading different articles both for and against Christians taking anti-depressants. What I noticed is that no one has taken a 360 degree view of the topic. I want to begin by using an analogy. Life is like walking a ridge in the mountains. On both sides of the ridge are very slippery slopes. As we hike along in life we must make sure we stay on path. The problem is that some of us do wander off path and begin to slide down the slope. Thankfully many catch themselves before they slide too far down and are able to climb up on their own. But, there are the ones that keep on sliding down and down and the only way is for a rope to be thrown down in order to pull them back up. In this case the anti-depressant is that rope. This is where I ask that you do not stop reading.
The human mind is the most complex creation in the universe. Even though we have made great progress in trying to understand it, we are still only scratching the surface. Here is one case in point. The anti-depressants advertised on TV even state that one of the side effects of the drug is suicidal tendencies in some individuals. But Doctors are not able to look at an individual and decide who will and who will not have this adverse reaction. It is their responsibility and duty to monitor their patient they have prescribed to and make sure the desired effect is occurring and no adverse effects are taking place. But even with this, there are no guarantees. I watched a video of a man who committed suicide in a police interrogation room. Seconds before the man committed suicide you never would of guessed that the man was about to do what he did. He calmly took a drink of bottled water and meticulously put the cap back on. Then suddenly grabbed a pistol hidden in his boot, that the police missed in their pat-down, and killed himself.
We as Christians also know that another factor comes into play and that factor is we have an enemy of our soul that is out to destroy us physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. This is where I want to talk to you about staying away from the slippery slopes of life. We need to eat a healthy diet, stay away from any drugs if possible, do not abuse alcohol, take vitamins, exercise regularly, study the Bible, pray earnestly, put on the whole armor of God, put on the fruit of the spirit, give of yourself, learn to hear God’s still small voice, socialize with the right people, have a mentor and be a mentor, get good sound counseling if necessary, live a life free from the grips of sin. Granted, these things may not guarantee 100% that you may not ever start slipping down the slope, but they will greatly reduce the chances of slipping. None of us knows what is ahead of us in life, but we will be much better to handle anything life throws at us. Americans have an extremely unhealthy diet. The human brain needs to be nourished properly or we will suffer. Just knowing this should cause us to be careful of what we put into our body. Also, the human brain needs the proper rest and sleep. Are we exercising properly or are we doing things that will keep us from getting a proper nights rest? More importantly, are we trying to live a sin free life? When we need a breakthrough are we engaging in a healthy fast as the 3 Hebrew boys did in the book of Daniel?
After I held my friend in my arms that had a total nervous breakdown, it profoundly changed my life. I learned to practice what I would like to call ‘A Little Righteous Anger’. Whenever I felt myself being pushed close to the slippery slopes of life, I learned how to direct that anger to protect my mind. I do not allow any person or situation to push me too far. Back in the 1990’s I was forced into travelling across North America and Europe by my job. After doing this many years I would have anxiety and panic attacks (manifesting itself in skipped heartbeats and trembling) and I would feel the darkness of depression closing in. I told the Doctor I did not want to take any drugs. The Doctor had me cut down on the caffeine and had me cut my work hours back from working over 80 hours a week. I refused to go on any back to back travel. I was fully prepared to be fired, but it never happened. These steps I took made things manageable. Next I sought for another job. After working almost years 20 where I was at, I left in 1999 for a none travelling job. The money at first was not as good, but my health was more important. How many people put their job above their health and drive themselves down the slippery slope? When I felt myself going down the slippery slope I took action. I trusted in God to provide for my family despite bringing home less pay. I continued to pay my tithes and God came thru for us, even giving us a bigger home on 6 beautiful acres. I do not say any of this to appear as a super Christian and put other Christians down. What I am saying is let God be true and every man a liar (Romans 3:4). My friends thought I was foolish doing what I did because from the human aspect it appeared that way. But God had better plans.
There is a danger zone when taking any anti-depressant. You are playing with fire. Do not just blindly follow your Doctor’s recommendations. You have the ability to investigate. My wife just got finished visiting a friend who lost her husband to suicide. He had everything going for him. A two hundred thousand dollar a year job with Lockheed Martin, a wonderful family, a new summer home and a bright future. Only problem was that he had a lot of stress from having to travel for the job and his Doctor prescribed Remeron. After only four days of being on this drug, this man went into his garage when he was supposed to be leaving for work and put a Beretta to his head and pulled the trigger.
When my youngest son was in grade school, my wife and I were pulled into a meeting by the school psychologist wanting us to put him on Ritalin in order to help him learn better in class. My wife and I went home to do some research on our own before coming back with the answer. We decided that we were strongly against it. The reaction by the school was appalling. It turned out that the truth of the matter was that it would of helped the teachers dealing with our son. Our son’s best interest was not central. I tell you this because everyone has their own agenda and there is ‘the reason for everything’ and then there is ‘the real reason for everything’.
We as Christians need to be especially careful of what we put into our body which is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Just because it is in the grocery store does not mean it is safe. Do we really know the effects of the chemicals, preservatives, hormones, growth additives, artificial sweeteners, insecticides, etc found in our foods and the methods to process our foods? Cases of diabetes and obesity are at an alarming rate of increase. You may think that energy drinks are safe for you, but they are not. My oldest son consumed them as a large part of his diet. Now combine this with his strenuous job in the August heat. On August 16, 2005 he was driving the work truck back at the end of the day. One second he was alive and the next second he was slumped over dead. The TV show ‘A 1000 Ways to Die’ confirmed that people have died from them.
It is not just what is consumed by our body. What are we filling our minds with by watching and listening to our TV’s, radios, Xbox’s, and smart devices. Do we give our minds enough down time during the day or are we bombarding it continuously? When we get into the car do we immediately blast the radio or when we walk into our homes does the TV and computer immediately come on? Do we know how to enjoy quiet times every day? If you say you cannot exist for 2 seconds without some sort of bombardment, then you are creating a mentally unhealthy state for yourself. This also robs you of the valuable time you should have communing with your Lord and Creator. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and earbuds are thieves without conviction. I am not saying there should be total abstinence. What I am saying is that balance is the key.
Our society in the United States is using anti-depressants and pain killers at an epidemic level. The church of Jesus Christ is no different. What is ‘the real reason’ for this abuse? It is a known fact that we are a society that does not want to feel any pain at all. We will at any cost be pain free. This was never supposed to be the purpose of anti-depressants. They are only supposed to be used in extreme cases when a person cannot find their way back up the slippery slope. There are Judges in this country that can attest to the fact of people who have committed crimes that appear before them who have heard voices, seen hallucinations and are lost in their darkened state. But they are not the norm. They are extreme cases and they are what these drugs are reserved for.
On the other extreme there are obese pastors who are on anti-depressants in order to help them cope with their job who speak out very harshly about any congregants who even so much as drink a glass of wine with their evening meal. They are incapable of removing a speck from anyone’s eye because of the timber in their own eye. I appeal to you. We as Christians are supposed to be examples to the world that life with Jesus Christ is different. We have a good God that takes care of us. We are designed to live a victorious life. We are to do everything in our power to be dependant only on our Lord.
Jesus warned us in Luke 21:9-13 that the ‘end times’ we are living in will have many terrifying things happen. He instructed us not to be fearful, but to use the opportunity as a means to give a testimony. He even told us not to worry about what to say, for the Holy Spirit will give us the right words.
Long before anti-depressants, the Lord told us to live a victorious life above fear. God is not a liar. Fear manifests itself as unbelief and fear is at the heart of depression. Except for seizures and chemical imbalances, Christians need to stay clear of the drugs. This is where I will get much condemnation. Allow me to give an illustration. A rebellious child may appear to be sitting down when told to, but inside he is still standing. This is where a lot of Christians, in name only, are. They have never totally surrendered to the Lord Jesus Christ. They have never really handed their sins over to the Lord. I nor any other person can be the judge of this. Only God knows for sure. I do know this though, that God’s Word is true from beginning to end and that He is all sufficient. He will renew your mind (KJV Romans 12:2, Ephesians 4:23, Colossians 3:10) no matter how horrible your past is. He is a God of miracles and restoration. He is God that will wash all your sins away. He is a God that will protect your mind from the demonic onslaughts of the enemy.
Ponder these things I have written. May they challenge you as they have challenged me. May we live righteous and wholesome lives. I leave you with two of my favorite verses in the Bible. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” John 10:10 says, “ I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”