Should I take meds for my depression? A Christian approach to the mental illness epidemic

Should I take meds for my depression? A Christian approach to the mental illness epidemic by Erin Kerry for Denison Forum

I first began struggling with my mental health as a young teenager.

Back then, churches didn’t typically attempt to address the subject of depression or anxiety, so I thought I was being a bad Christian because I couldn’t “pray it away.”

When I was finally diagnosed with clinical depression, it was a relief that the sickness I experienced had a physiological aspect to it—it wasn’t just in my head.

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In today’s church world, more awareness has been drawn to mental illness as a physiological illness, which is huge progress for the large number of people who suffer from various diagnoses.

However, messaging seems to be two-dimensional. When the topic of mental health pops up in a sermon, I have observed two ways of approaching it:

  • You need to focus on “renewing your mind” or “casting all your cares” on God (or a similar Christianese platitude).
  • Or, as a quick side note, you need to contact your doctor because there are meds for that chemical imbalance.

This may be a dangerous approach for the two-thirds of people who don’t respond well to or have negative effects from current treatment forms, like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) prescription drugs. When treatment fails, it can lead to increased hopelessness and self-defeating thoughts.

So imagine if your pastor is promoting only two options for a solution, neither of those options works in your situation, and you still lack practical tools to support your mental health.

The stigma grows and the division widens.

Mental health issues on the rise

Recent estimates show that one in five Americans is on psychiatric medication like an antidepressant, classified as an SSRI, which exists to boost serotonin at the synapse level of the brain.

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