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Is Mental Illness Actually Biblical?

I recently read two articles by a well-known Christian author who is also closely connected to a Christian counseling foundation. The articles essentially argued that mental illness was a social construct created by secular doctors and psychiatrists, and therefore is not biblical.

So, when a person is depressed, he is really just experiencing sadness, and to try to treat it medically is to short circuit the power of God. When a person is anxious, she is really just experiencing worry, and to treat it medically is a secular answer to a spiritual problem.

You get the idea.

The desire behind the article was good: The author was trying to demonstrate that Jesus is sufficient for every facet of life. However, I believe that treating mental illness as only (or even primarily) a spiritual problem is both profoundly unbiblical and incredibly hurtful to those who struggle with mental illness.

Total depravity really means totaldepravity.

The Bible teaches that every human being is totally depraved. This doesn’t mean that every person is as absolutely wicked and evil as they could possibly be. That would be utter depravity.

Total depravity simply means that sin has affected every facet of my being, including both my soul and my body.

Total depravity means that nothing works as God originally intended. My spiritual desires are affected and distorted by sin. My intellect is distorted by and affected by sin.

Read more at Church Leaders

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  • eganstew3

    It is my belief that depression and anxiety are choices. When we are
    depressed or anxious then we are worrying about something. When we worry
    about something we think we know better then God what to do. When I
    worry, I have taken my eyes off of the only ONE that can meet my needs,
    desires, and wants. When I take my eyes off of the Lord then, I think I
    am better then He is and I can work out what ever situation I might be
    in. When I think I know more about my situation then God then I sit myself up to be like God or a god.
    The Bible says I am to praise the Lord in all things. If that is true
    then that means all things. I grew up in a family where many of them
    lived in depressed-emotional-anxious situations. I had a brother that
    at one time was in a mental institute. I went to visit him on several
    occasions and the thought came to me “if only these people would turn to
    Jesus and allow Him to deal with their problem. About 50 years ago, I watch a couple movies “One Flew Over the Coco’s nest” and another called “Bedlam”.
    If Jesus could take a demonic man and heal him, I really feel our
    depression and anxiety can also be healed if we would just lean on the
    Lord. Elijah wad depressed and God told him to lay down and rest. Upon
    awaking food and water was provided. Most of the time when we are
    depressed, we forget to eat and rest. Some eat to much and sleep to
    much. I do not believe Mental illness is Biblical but we are given
    several stories of those that were and how they dealt with that
    s0-called illness. We are to be thankful and praise the Lord in all
    things. If we do then life is enjoyable and interesting. I am learning
    just recently that God is in charge, not I, and He is making me the
    woman He can use for His glory.

    • Conservadiva

      Really? I do not know anyone who would choose depression or anxiety.

      • eganstew3

        I am going on the premise that if we are to praise God in all things, then we should not be depressed when things do not go the way we think they should. If we praised Him in all things then we accept that He is going to handle everything according to His will. Then we should not be depressed. I get depressed because I am not willing to accept the events in my life as coming from God.

        • Bodey043

          Praise the Lord that your life is so rosy. But your analysis of why individuals get depressed is not accurate, not scientific, and not Biblical.

    • Recognizing_Truth

      And yet, in a sin cursed world we have bodies that can be organically imperfect – heart disease, cancer, birth defects, anemia, diabetes, lupus, just to name a few.
      Are these “biblical”? What would a biblical remedy be for these?

      The brain, too, is a delicate and finely designed system that can suffer organically – a result of a world cursed because of sin – resulting in various problems including “mental illness”.

      We seem to think that it’s OK to treat the obviously physical problems with what God has blessed us with in the discovery and application of medicines and technologies. But when a hormone, chemical, or electrical imbalance in the brain causes mental illness we are quick to say “it’s a choice”. Epilepsy is a choice? Depression is a choice? When the underlying cause is organic it needs to be treated organically.

      I think you’re jaded and mistaken in your thinking, because the world system labels EVERYTHING a mental illness and wants to medicate everything. That’s why we need godly medical practitioners who realize that organic, self-induced, and even demonic forces can be involved. With prayerful wisdom and work, the solution can be found. Each person will be different, because each has different “baggage” that needs to be turned over to God, each has different levels of resistance to the deception of demonic lies, and each has differing issues in brain chemistry.

      If God intervenes, complete healing is indeed possible. If God chooses to allow the thorn in their mind to continue, then a loving family, church, and godly physician can guide the person to medical assistance while trusting God for the results and the strength to endure the trials.

  • Conservadiva

    I read an excellent article about how child abuse causes alterations in how a growing child’s brain develops. They can see this via MRI and other technics as they test children and adults who were abused. Different kinds of abuse had different affects on the brain, but all were negative affects. Tendencies towards depression, anxiety, seizures, even suicide were common because of the reduced brain functioning. Sadly, it is also unknown whether these areas of the brain can be restored from their atrophy. So counseling and psychiatry may not help at all. God is able to intervene in a person’s life, but often times the affects of the fall are permanent. We struggle, but we are not alone in our struggles. Other disorders of the mind like schizophrenia were listed in the article as having similar brain causes, but were listed as genetic, not caused by abuse. Ultimately, a Christian counselor may be correct in saying that “treatments” may not benefit and God may be a person’s only real solace. Since in the case of child abuse related brain underdevelopment or damage due to overstimulation of stress hormones during childhood, there is no known medical treatment to restore, regrow, or enlarge parts of the brain that cause “limbic distress.” But it is only fair to the person who suffers to acknowledge that there is a physical cause to their distress, or personality disorder. It is not imaginary. They lack resources. Depending on God to sustain, and comfort them is a best treatment or in conjunction with meds if they warrant, rather than turning to self medicating substance abuse that would only make things worse. Some people do benefit from medication. Some people do not do well on meds. Some people prefer natural or herbal treatments. There are various answers and a person should be encouraged to consider all options. Here’s the article which you can evaluate for yourself: