Wills and Pills

7 09 2010

I’ve noticed people are sympathetic with the self-help methods of dealing with depression, but less so with medication. For some reason, many Christians want to insist that a focussed prayer life, giving to others, daily exercise and going to more Bible studies will be the answer to the problem. These things would undoubtedly benefit most of the population, but I wonder if this same advice would be given to a diabetic, or a cancer patient? Can a depressed person “snap out of it” any more than they can?

There’s something about depression that makes us uncomfortable. It can’t be diagnosed by a blood test. It’s not easy to comprehend in the way that a torn cartilage is. Yet it is a medical condition and, like most other medical conditions, medicine is available – and it helps. It doesn’t make you “high” or even happy – it merely redresses the imbalance of chemicals in the brain.

I’d be foolish not to take my asthma inhaler.  I’m not sure that I’d be wise to refuse anti-depressants when the doctor has prescribed them.




5 responses

8 09 2010

That’s weird that people would think that. Surely the fact that medication works proves that it genuinely is a physical problem, not a spiritual one that doing spiritual things will magically solve.

9 09 2010

Sounds like the Christians you talk about are giving you advice which could be summed up in 2 words – try harder. This is a medical problem which can be treated with medication. I have seen Christians who have depression come off their meds as soon as it has taken effect and redressed the chemical imbalance, due to pressure exerted on them by their peers. They have succumbed not long afterwards.

Also sounds like you’re dealing with this in a godly, sensible way and I hope you remain close to Christ on your road to recovery.

Hope you take this the right way – Keep taking the pills!

9 09 2010

Thank you both for your comments.

I think there is a genuine fear that by taking such pills, addiction could be the next problem – despite evidence to the contrary.

Also, I agree with the “try harder” diagnosis! Fortunately God is more gracious, loving and kind than us.

Thanks for your encouragement – I will keep taking the pills!

16 09 2010

I’ve been thinking about this – I think it probably has something to do with clinical depression looking very similar to “emotional depression” (for want of a better description) which often IS caused by lack of prayer, excercise etc. We know how to deal with it and so we assume clinical depression to just be a more severe form that needs more of the same.

16 09 2010

Thanks for commenting, Neil. I’ve been thinking a lot about this too.

You’re probably right. In one sense they are the same in that whatever the cause, they have the same effect, and we should consider the whole person – mind, body and spirit. I think I was trying to say that sometimes pills are needed, not just to help symptoms, but to treat the cause (ie imbalance of chemicals on the brain). The self-help and therapy can then be put into action which all work together to make the patient feel better.

I’m no expert so I’m not sure I’m making sense. That’s just the way I’ve found it so far.

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