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  • Janet Kraft

    This article is based on the bogus chemical imbalance theory created by psychiatrists to legitimize their profession and promoted by pharmaceutical companies to legally push their drugs on people that are hurting and need help. It bothers me a great deal that Christian pastors are hopping on board this train that has led to the destruction of so many lives. To discount all the people whose lives have been totally trashed from the side effects these bogus drugs produce is not only wrong, it’s out right criminal. I find it hard to believe that God wants us to numb down all our bad feelings. Where in the world does it ever say to do that in the Bible? In addition, people really need to look at what they are eating, listening to and how much (or little) they are exercising. Signed – a pharmaceutical victim who took her drugs AS PRESCRIBED and is now one of the unfortunate ones whose life was ruined but thankfully renewed thanks to Jesus Christ my SAVIOR!

    • Char Fox

      My only concern with this is that I have a son who, while fed breastmilk the first 2 1/2 years, while fed lean meats and vegetables and milk and fruit juices with no sodas and junk for foods, he showed signs of Aspergers at the age of 3. Without medication, he was thrown out of three daycares which affected my employment. Even in a daycare that accepts special needs, he still needed medication in order to remain there. His issues involved hurting others (adults and children), mostly out of carelessness and not focusing his attention while being extremely hyper around others. So it wasn’t the food. I also ate healthy, exercised daily, and did not drink or smoke while pregnant.

    • LivingthroughGod

      I see my depression as a chemical imbalance, because when I take my meds, they balance me out. So if I am now balanced out, it can be assumed I was out of chemical balance. Meds save lives. Many people may not need them, and I agree Dr. over prescribe. Mind you, I had a good childhood on the outside, but on the inside I was hurting, and the world was hell. I saw nothing good or worth living for. This is a short description of the hell people like me experience when untreated. And yes, environmental factors and peoples experiences, can cause a depression. Those people are usually in need of temporary treatment.

    • Anne

      “Bogus chemical imbalance theory?” If you can name 3 neurotransmitters along with their basic functions…I will take away 1 point from you current 100% rating of ignorance.
      Peoples lives are trashed with pharmaceuticals for many reasons including: morons that get meds from anyone other than a PSYCHIATRIST. (Examples: primary care doc, counselor , or psychologist) or..people abuse the drugs they are given..or .some do not do their research and seek out a GOOD psychiatrist. Others are looking for the quick fix with a drug instead of continuing long term CBT or DBT therapy with their doc. It’s hard work and we are living in a nation of instant gratification

      Uh….”I find it hard to believe God wants us to be numb?” I find it hard to believe God wants us to be completely disfunctional or suicidal. The facts are meds and proper psychotherapy have saved lives and allowed people to gain tool to cope with the real illness at hand.
      If you feel “numb” when taking meds and would rather feel the way you did before then that’s a good indication you didn’t need them to begin with! People who truly suffer welcome the “numbness” of certain meds bc it allows them to be functional again. Feeling “numb” is a mental break from the pure torture that was prevalent every second of every day.

      Would you tell someone with cancer and/or chronic pain to just pray about it and to not take those silly meds that cause horrible side effects?

      Educate yourself. It’s out there now and it’s common knowledge. Mental disorders are REAL. They are biological and now thanks to FMRI scans amoungst other technologies science has been able to prove it. And yet there are still people out there that will argue that the “sky is not blue”

  • Crazy Church

    I do understand the necessity of short-term medication use for Christians in extreme cases – primarily because (I believe) Western Christians have a general lack of understanding of spiritual warfare. They have bought whole-cloth the “chemical imbalance” explanation of mental illness that springs from a naturalism-materialism / Darwinian worldview. My experience though tells me that the Cons of psych meds outweigh the Pros: http://thecrazychurch.com/medication/

    • Char Fox

      Not all can be attributed to a lack of understanding however. Alzheimers, autism, mental retardation from birth…these prove the existence of mental illness. The woman with the issue of blood was “healed”. Demons weren’t cast out of her. So all sickness isn’t attributable to demons. Just as I stated below in Matthew 4:24, it states those with diseases and “torments” and those possessed with devils and those “lunatick”. So even the Bible testifies to those who are tormented or lunatic but isn’t attributable to demons or spiritual warfare.

  • Char Fox

    I believe so many in the church do more harm by demonizing everything. And then, so many in society do more harm by labeling everything. Like with most things, the old pendulum swings left or right, but can’t seem to manage that center spot.

    I have heard claim after claim that the Bible doesn’t address mental illness. In researching this issue, it certainly does! Matthew 4:24 states “And
    his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick
    people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those
    which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and
    those that had the palsy; and he healed them.” If you read the Greek translation, the words are σεληνιάζομαι (selēniazomai) which means “to be a lunatic”, and δαιμονίζομαι
    (daimonizomai) which means “in NT to be possessed, afflicted, vexed, by a demon or evil spirit”. As both of these are in the same verse, it stands to reason that not all “lunatics” are possessed by a demon or evil spirit.

    Further delving into speaking cursings or blessings, the sins of the fathers (generational curses), one can see that these verses are discussing how parents pass on their bad traits to their kids. And while the children are not punished for their parents’ sins, continuing those traits become their own sins which they are punished for. Accepting Christ means being forgiven for those sins and working with Him to heal us of those issues. Sometimes it may take medication. We don’t tell diabetics not to medicate. We might tell them they eat too much to cause it. But that does nothing to explain juvenile diabetes, for which medication is a necessity for life.

    Yes there are side effects to medications, but not everyone experiences them. No, there is no definitive test. I’ve spent years in counseling (Christian and secular), and years of medicine trials until just recently we’ve finally hit upon the right combinations for me. It is a difference of night and day. Staying in the Word has also been a huge help in this and I feel that at some future point, the medication may be able to be stopped. But for now, I’m listening to the still small voice that tells me I need to remain on it. People see the difference, I can see the difference. And if you’ve ever dealt with bi-polar or severe depression, you might find small side effects are well worth it to be free of the severe ups and downs that feel like they’re driving you insane.

    Years ago, we didn’t know much about cancer. For now, we don’t know much about mental illness. Perhaps years down the line, we will find a proven method of testing for that chemical imbalance. Sometimes it can be passed on from parents who filtered your bloodstream with booze and illegal drugs. It may be the chemicals we lace our foods with in modern day society, or the pollutants we’ve put into our air. But if we believe in an unseen God, what is so hard about believing in an unseen chemical imbalance?

  • maria deniels

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  • @BFichterWrites

    Thank you for this wonderful article. I blog about life with neurological disorders, as I’ve got Tourettes, OCD tendencies, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. When I was young, I wanted to ignored my disorders as much as possible, but when I got into college, however, I realized that God didn’t make a mistake when He carefully made me in my mother’s womb. I was made the way I am for a purpose, to accomplish something in God’s plan I couldn’t accomplish any other way. Honestly, given the choice, I wouldn’t change who I am. Life can still be really rough, particularly with anxiety attacks, but I’m content with God’s decision. I’m told from time to time that if I were really trusting in God, if I really trusted Him to heal me, I would be healed from Satan’s curse. I don’t see it that way, however. I love the Lord with all my heart. I believe He could cure me if He wanted to. I asked God often (with the faith of a child) to heal me when I was young, but as God told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness,” and so I believe He has made known to me. And I’m okay with that. It means God has a mission for me; it means He made me special, and that’s an incredible gift.

    For this reason, I try to engage others in discussion on mental illnesses. As you said, it’s a difficult topic. I believe, however, that if Christians as a whole moved from trying to “cure” everyone or ignoring the topic, to trying to walk alongside them, offering whatever help they can, offering prayers of love, our country would be changed. People suffering in the black of disorders like Schizophrenia, Depression, Anxiety, Bipolar, and BPD would see the light of Christ in the dark, rather than an endless tunnel. I’m going to share this article. Thank you again for writing it.

  • Guest

    Thank you for this wonderful article. I blog about life with neurological disorders, as I’ve got Tourettes, OCD tendencies, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. When I was young, I wanted to ignored my disorders as much as possible, but when I got into college, however, I realized that God didn’t make a mistake when He carefully made me in my mother’s womb. I was made the way I am for a purpose, to accomplish something in God’s plan I couldn’t accomplish any other way. Honestly, given the choice, I wouldn’t change who I am. Life can still be really rough, particularly with anxiety attacks, but I’m content with God’s decision. I’m told from time to time that if I were really trusting in God, if I really trusted Him to heal me, I would be healed from Satan’s curse. I don’t see it that way, however. I asked God often to heal me when I was young, but as God told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness,” and so I believe He has made known to me. And I’m okay with that. It means God has a mission for me; it means He made me special.
    For this reason, I try to engage others in discussion on mental illnesses. As you said, it’s a difficult topic. I believe, however, that if Christians as a whole moved from trying to “cure” everyone/ignoring the topic, to trying to walk alongside them, offering whatever help they can, offering prayers of love, our country would be changed. I’m going to share this article. Thank you again for writing it.

  • Kikki

    This is a great article. As someone struggling with bipolar disorder, I have had many christians tell me I just need to “have enough faith.” Name it and claim it sort of things. It’s a terrible to feel bad about having to take the medicine which actually makes me able to function as a normal person.

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  • Jonathan Cousar

    When you say, “Christians have to break the stigma and the shame of mental illness” – it sounds like something we hear anytime someone wants Christians to conform to the thought patterns of the world.

    At the risk of sounding terribly unenlightened, I will say that Christians have very good reasons for suspecting the world of psychiatry of not being in line with Biblical teachings.

    This is not to say that you’re not correct in stating that there are genuine mental illnesses that can only be treated with some form of medication. However, just like the number of abortions that are had because the woman was raped make up a tiny fraction of the total number of abortions, people who have genuine medically-induced mental illnesses make up only a tiny fraction of the total number of people who are on psychiatric medications.

    People today go to their psychiatrist as people in the past used to go to their pastor or priest. Psychiatry has really replaced the role of pastoral counseling in today’s secular America. People go to a psychiatrist at the drop of a hat. Probably sixty percent or more of people who go to psychiatrists regularly think they have some form of biologically-based mental illness.

    A large portion of what people today call mental illness – are in fact rooted in sin and in rebellion against God. Many (not all, but many) so-called psychological problems can be traced directly to non-belief in God. When a person believes there is no creator, there is no point to our existence, and in the end we’re all gonna die – that can actually cause real psychiatric problems.

    And the solutions “psychology” provides are also rooted in sin. Psychology is one of the most secular fields today. So it should be no surprise that they go down a dead end path in search for solutions to men’s mental anguishes. Unbiblical paths they follow include teaching self love, increasing your self esteem and venting your anger. Psychology is completely man-centered. A psychologists never tells a patient to look to God. They are only told that the solutions are within themselves.

    As for so-called “Christian” psychology, why would Christians start from a Godless foundation and then try to add God back in? Christian counselors need to start from a Biblical foundation – which would lead them to reject most of what secular psychology teaches.

    Much of what is psychology is today, is simply atheist practitioners trying to ascribe physical and biological causes to problems of the human condition, that are in fact spiritual. Like the way they have tried to show that humanity’s persistent belief in God comes from a “God gene”. The practice of psychology is materialistic in nature. It ascribes the most serious mental problems to physical and biological causes while completely ignoring the spiritual. Christians can’t start from that Godless base and think that they can just tweak it here and there and make it “Christian”.

    Since the use of psychiatry and psychiatric drugs is endemic to our culture, I would think it would be wiser for Christian writers to remind people of the problems associated with that, rather than trying to encourage people to get more comfortable with it.

    • MonteJ

      Are there spiritual problems that no amount of medication or psychiatric treatment will never be able to cure? Absolutely!

      Are there mental illnesses based on someone’s body simply over or under-producing a chemical in the body?

      Absolutely! (no different than when a diabetic’s body isn’t producing insulin.

      This is not a question of “either/or”. We need discernment – and when we jump to a wrong conclusion it can have disastrous results.

      Christians who discount the value of psychiatric treatment are as misguided as psychiatrists who discount the value of spiritual health.
      I am deeply disappointed by the ignorance and lack of respect that people on both sides of this debate show for one another and it results in such damage to hurting people.

    • @BFichterWrites

      While I do believe there are many unbiblical secular alternatives out there that shouldn’t be helping people, I believe in large it’s because the Church has failed to address the problem. Whether or not people are alwyas correctly diagnosed, they are people crying out for help. As someone with multiple disorders, I can tell you that I’ve talked to numerous Christians who have gotten very uncomfortable the moment I broached the subject. I feel very comfortable talking about my disorders, but many aren’t. It takes great bravery to go to someone for any type of help with a problem such as a mental illness. People who feel lost in their problems like this will go to the “experts” for help, whether they’re experts or not. (And believe me, a basic MD or neurologist can be of great help, that boat for the drowning man who prayed God would help him.) Where the Christian church can begin to bring people light, as you’re talking about, is in that place where they reach out to those who are hurting from these disorders or from sin. Either way, we need to reach out with a strong arm, and we’re not.
      As far as medications go, that’s a tricky place. Yes, they are sometimes overprescribed, but as MonteJ pointed out, we don’t judge diabetics who are lacking insulin. I firmly believe God has given us brilliant scientists to help us discover medicines for our ails. It’s another part of the Common Grace He sheds on our world.

  • Andrew Leong S C

    Dear Bro Ed, As a christian naturopath, I would normally
    attempt to identify the ROOT CAUSES of a person’s health condition first. This
    is the basis of Prov 26:2 and Gal 6:7. Many a sickness could be due to the sowing
    and reaping effect, namely, the way one EATS-THINKS-FEELS-LIVES. Then again in
    Ps 88, Heman is a prime example of a man of God who had lived with depression
    since young. That’s the decree of God. Meanwhile, Paul faced Timothy,
    Epaphroditus, and Trophimus whom he could do very little to help in terms of
    praying. And the great Elisha had become sick with the illness of which he
    would die. Therefore, when confronted with ill health, it’s vital that we “pray
    as if everything depends on God, work as if everything depends on you.” As a
    naturopath, I will search out all available info (360%) for the benefit of my
    patient. And the best remedy is always from a natural (non-chemical) SOURCE.
    For example, in mental illness, to me, the leading natural and least invasive
    therapy is Orthomolecular Medicine: http://orthomolecular.org/

    All psychotropic drugs will give the patient unwanted and
    unbearable side effects in the long term. Hence, if you choose to go on
    conventional medicine (drugs), always do it on a short term. After all,
    conventional med has only a history of 200 years, compared with natural
    medicine which has been sighted throughout the whole OT. And please remember,
    conventional medicine can never cure cardio-vascular diseases, diabetes,
    arthritis and other lifestyle diseases. This is because “chemical
    drugs” can never replace one’s nutritional deficiency in the first place,
    not to forget other contributors like stress and toxic elements exposure.
    Beloved, I wish above all things

  • Jerry Wells

    Here is my concern. It is easy to diagnose a broken leg and know that a cast is needed. How do you diagnose a chemical imbalance and know that a drug is needed? Is the testing that is done accurate? What I am hearing from many of my friends is that they went to a professional counselor. He did a quick assessment and then prescribed medication. I have heard this over and over again. What is the best way to diagnose mental illness and know that you your diagnosis is accurate?

    • Anne

      One must go to a psychiatrist for medical testing. A counselor or psychologist do not have medical degrees. Psychiatrists are the only professionals who know how these meds truly work in our bodies. I’ve been seeing a psychiatrist for 10 years. I wasn’t prescribed any medication until we knew exactly what was going on. This took a few months of testing….functional MRIs on “paper” , bloodwork, full physical , journaling my thought processes and behavior. Documenting my schedule and eating and exercise habits…etc. basically getting to know me inside and out and how my brain functions or disfunctions. Over time it becomes obvious what I needed in terms of CBT or meds or both. Then many more years of hard work to re-wire the brain with coping tools.

  • Great article! God’s power will be unleashed, when the church addresses taboo issues such as mental illness, gossip, slander,etc.

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  • Leigh Ann Mayfield

    Thank you for standing by, speaking up, and sharing with us as we come alongside our dear pastor and his family and support them in breaking the stigma and shame. God bless you for writing this piece.