Not too long ago, I was diagnosed with a certain type of depression. I will come back to that . . .

Until two years ago, I felt as if I was a slight bit taller than others. I could not explain it, but sadness and depression were always those things that other people had. I was quite immune. Probably because they were not as strong as me. Probably because they were not as focused. Maybe even because they did not trust the Lord like me. Whatever the case, I did not “get” depression. Imagine me as a pastoral counselor. I would stoically look at people wondering why they weren’t just following what the sermon said. “What about Chuck’s sermon, did you not understand?” I would think to myself (knowing this was not a good pattern of thought). As well, at this time, I had made it through my sister’s death and my mother’s stroke as I attempted to hold the rest of the family up. I was a rock.

However, two years ago things changed. One week, I just fell apart. I cannot tell you why, but there was a definite change in my psyche and personality. I just was not the same man (or so it seemed to me). It was not about being happy or having a smile on my face, it was about being me. “I” was gone and I did not know how to find myself. I cannot tell you how frustrating (and how enlightening) this was. The “cloud” that drove Angie (my sister) to her death had now settled over my head. I finally understood her language. No matter how much I tried, I could not talk or think myself out of it. This affected all of my relationships. Even with my kids, I just did not care about how school was, what their grades were or whether I was being a good dad. The outlook was grim as depression—real depression—had hit me for the first time.

Back to my diagnosis.

I never went to a doctor for this. Taking medication was not even on my table. Why? When my sister went in for a routine check-up when she was going through her divorce, the doctor gave her Zoloft to help her “get through the rough time.” She did not ask for it, but it was prescribed nonetheless. Four days later, after never having experienced depression, she took a bottle of sleeping pills to end her life. She said she “snapped.” While it did not work that time, she was then placed on anti-depressant after anti-depressant until, due to the exhaustion of finding no answers, she successfully ended her life. Therefore, I have steered clear of any consideration of anti-depressants for myself.

This is not to say that I don’t think that there are times when they are the only and best alternative. I do—very rarely as a last resort.

However, having never been to a doctor about this, I did have a comment once from a Christian psychologist who visited my blog. He said I was suffering from some sort of depressive disorder and feared that it was borderline serious, suggesting that I needed professional help.

While I appreciated the care that this individual had for me and, I am sure, all those who suffer, at the time when this was written I was not depressed (at least in an out of the ordinary way). I can see how he would have thought that I was, but I found it quite disturbing that such a diagnosis would be made from reading a blog (especially when I am writing one a night on subjects across the spectrum).

The point of my last post was not a real argument for the tongue-in-cheek Luther illustration, but about the ease with which doctors are prescribing mind altering drugs these days. I argued that real consideration needs to be made that depression, sadness, and mental disorders are indicators of something other than the need to be made “better” by mind altering drugs. There are many reasons for depression that simply must be explored before we take something to get us through the “hard times.” Hard times are hard for a reason. Depression can often be the tool of God to shape us into dependent beings. “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” Sometimes we are unwilling to consider the blessing that the “dark night of the soul” may provide. Many times depression is an indicator of our need to eat right, exercise, deal with sin, or forgiveness. It may also provide, for some, the ability to come to others in need in a sympathetic way. For some it is just their personality—their normal personality—and a vehicle for their giftedness and contribution to the world.

My point was not to say that there is not such a thing as chemical imbalance or severe depression that necessitates more extreme and dangerous measures. This is coming from one who took his sister to have ECT (electric shock therapy) seventeen times (fifteen was supposed to be the max). I simply believe that we have become too dependent on fast fixes, wanting to find the easiest way out.

After Angie’s first attempt, I went with her to the doctor. I took her to a Christian psychiatrist whom I trusted. He was my professor in Christian counseling for a time at seminary. He is very renown in the area of psychiatry. You would probably know him if I told you his name. He taught me about treating a hurt brain as one would a hurt heart. We studied MRI’s of the depressed brain compared to a healthy brain. He taught me that medicine was a gift of God and we, as ministers, should not be against it. Just as we treat a broken leg for injury or an infection with penicillin, so we must treat an injured brain. The co-teacher of the course took a little different slant to provide some balance. He would often speak about the absolute necessity of cognitive therapy and the limited usage that psychotic drugs should have. The tag team teaching provided some good balance to the course and helped us consider all the nuances of respected opinions. To be sure, I left there convinced from both men that there are times when medical intervention was necessary. I am still of that opinion.

However, I was very disheartened with the performance of this doctor with Angie’s condition. It seemed from the very first consult that it was a forgone conclusion that she simply needed other drugs. We discussed what drugs she was going to take in what measures. Then we made an appointment to come back for a follow-up. He did stress that she needed to get into cognitive therapy, but this was nothing more than an after thought that was not to be revisited again.

Again, I am not against drugs. I am against the direction that some in the medical world seems to have taken with regard to prescribing these drugs.

My wife, father, and other sister were all prescribed this type of medication by someone other than a psychiatrist or, even, the recommendation of a psychologist. Another close family member was put on Paxil by her family doctor and simply had her prescription filled each month for twelve years without any further consult. She finally detoxed herself from them.

I believe that there needs to be more accountability in this area. I don’t know about you. I do know how sensitive this subject is and I don’t want to sound as if I am speaking down to all those good people who truly don’t have any other recourse. For you, I am sorry for the lot God has given to you and I am so comforted that these drugs are helping, if that be the case. I just think there needs to be more fear of these meds. And it is not because I think that a high percentage of people are going to kill themselves because of an adverse reaction. While this is a possibility, it is rare. I simply think that the liberality of the diagnosing of people with some “disorder” that must be treated by drugs is dangerous. It, I believe, can be counter-productive to the necessity and blessing of suffering. The “necessity and blessing of suffering.” The shock that you may feel that such a statement can be made is understandable, but evidences, I believe, our good intentioned wayward direction.

Think of taking mind altering drugs like neck surgery. You simply don’t want to have to have neck surgery. Sure, it may work. As well, the ability to perform such a procedure is a gift of God. But, as any doctor will tell you, this is a last resort. Do everything you can to prevent this surgery. Physical therapy, exercise, stretching, and time are all paths that must be pursued first. There is too much risk in neck surgery for it to be on the table too quickly. Only after you have tried everything else, consider the surgery.

Here is the pattern I idealistically wish were the case with regard to our present issue, particularly for Christians who are experiencing depression or some other form of psychotic issue:

Step 1: Go to your pastor (make sure it is not a pastor who is not set against drugs). Work through whatever spiritual or sin issue that could be the cause of the problem. And yes, you need to consider demonic oppression (although, to be honest, I don’t know really what that looks like). If this proves ineffective, go to step 2.

Step 2: Hopefully, upon the encouragement of your pastor, seek out a Christian psychologist who can work with you in cognitive development more long term. If this proves ineffective and your psychologist suggests, then go to step three.

Step 3:  Go to a psychiatrist who can prescribe meds. Make sure that this psychiatrist is not committed to meds, but committed to all three steps. Make sure that you are monitored closely and that there is a plan to get you off the meds if possible. All the while, during step three, you would never stop pursuing either of the first two steps.

In the end, let us not be so quick to be so evasive with our brain. A blog reading diagnosis, while kind and considerate, needs to vanish. It should take a lot more to tell someone they have a “disorder” of any kind. Anti-depressants should not be the norm the way they are today.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    37 replies to ""Let's Make Mommy Happy" (Part 2) – Anti-Depressants Should Not Be the Norm"

    • Bob W

      First, an admission: I have a tendency toward dark thoughts. My family has a history of depression. I have on one occasion in the past several years struggled with a profoundly severe depression that it had no obvious external cause. I believe the source of my depression was simply that I permitted my typically darker than usual thoughts to move unchecked in a certain direction until they had lost sight of land, so to speak. It took God’s grace and someone telling me I should think different thoughts, and for me to agree that they were right and then think them.

      ***Don’t misunderstand: I do not in any way shape or form believe that this is normal. I mean this merely to say that I am personally acquainted with very real depression (as opposed to feeling a little blue, which afflicts most everyone on occasion).

      Being a fan of Dostoevsky, I am very grateful for his acute sensitivity toward suffering, brought on no doubt from his own struggles (self-inflicted as well as circumstantial and biological). The world of literature (and dare I say Christian thought) would have been much poorer with a shiny, happy FMD. That was/is a role for other artists to play, both kinds serving vital purposes. He has always appealed to me because the people who populate his novels–Christian and atheist alike–were real to me, albeit loquaciously so. They struggle and don’t always get the answers they seek, and therefore the closure the reader wants. For me, Dostoevsky’s closeness to suffering caused him to maintain a close bond with broken humanity, something that I believe it sorely needs. Mankind needs to know that believers hurt and struggle and lack answers at times, that though we may be genuinely afflicted, we are not crushed.

      To some extent, Kierkegaard is like him–his loss (self-imposed suffering) of his beloved Regine haunted him all his short life. I know there are other creative types like them as well, but they are my favorites. Gee, maybe I wouldn’t have so many dark thoughts if I read happier writers.

      I am not glad they suffered, nor would I prescribe it as the path to God (as FMD to some extent believed), but I am grateful for the fruit of that suffering.

      Some people truly cannot function without meds, and although I wish this weren’t true, I know from my own family that it is so.

      For those who can bear up under that mindset, I find myself most times believing it to be a blessing. It is for me at least, albeit a dark blessing.

    • Michael L

      1) Thanks for sharing. I can relate to some of it as you know
      2) Overall I agree. We’re a “want it now” society. We do indeed take away God’s will sometimes by going after the quick fix and not pausing, praying and asking that His will be revealed. It’s a delicate balancing act.

      I also think there’s a step 4 missing.

      4) Find a solid Christian fellowship that can pray for you, support you, listen to you and hold you accountable.

      We weren’t created to be alone. We weren’t created to bear burdens alone.

      If I may take an example: Everyone has heard of Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Gambling Anonymous, etc.. Their main recommendation is to have 90 meetings in the first 90 days of being sober. In other words.. immerse yourself in the group, find a sponsor and talk to your sponsor every day.
      Success rate for people that stick with that: 80%.
      People that do less than 5 meetings a week for the first 3 months: 14%

      Trying to work through any challenge of any kind alone is like trying to scale Mount Everest by yourself. Really tough.

      Besides it allowing someone to cope and feel supported (moral argument), it’s also a Christian and Biblical thing to do (theological argument).

      Acts 2:42 , 1Tim 6:18 , 2Cor 1:7 , 1Thess 5:11 and the list can go on and on

      But I also fully realize and know that any of those 4 steps may still not lead to what we want the oucome to be. Accepting that “Not our will but Yours be done” and dealing with that may be the toughest of all. And as far as I know… there’s no pill for that.

      In Him

    • Pauline

      I agree that people should not rush to get these drugs, and doctors should not rush to prescribe them. What seems strange to me is that I hear these stories about doctors so blithely giving such drugs to people, yet never with anyone I have known personally.

      My doctor talked with me and my husband for quite a while before prescribing anything, and urged me to see a psychologist at the same time. When I moved to a new area and had to find a new doctor, he also insisted on getting to know me before giving me a new prescription, and he only gives refills for six months so that I will come in and see him again and he can reevaluate things. My husband’s experience has been similar. (Actually he complained last time that his current doctor seemed to be trying to counsel him as well.)

      I have known quite a number of people who have taken medication for depression and/or anxiety, and I don’t remember any of them talking about doctors being so quick to medicate them and doing it as a substitute for solving their problems. What they do say is that with the help of the drugs, they are able to tackle the problems rather than giving up in despair. I don’t know anyone who even wants to take a “happy” pill. The people who are like that are self-medicating with alcohol or illegal drugs.

      Maybe it’s the kind of places I have lived, or the kind of people I get to know. Sometimes, reading other people’s accounts on this and other blogs, I feel like I live in a different world than they do.

    • Ray D


      First, I hope I am not posting to often here, but you wrote something very profound when you said,”I finally understood her language”. This is what we miss.

      I will never be able to understand the anguish of having a sister commit suicide. I hope you never have to understand the anguish of sending your children fight a war. I have at least one if not two of my sons in the middle east for four of the last six years. Nothing is more maddening than have someone try to relate to that hasn’t been there.

      There are times when medication may be necessary but in our society most people just need someone who will truly care. If we don’t have the tee shirt we don’t need to think or pretend we understand. We just need to be there to listen, to care, and to cry with them without judgment. Just one frail human to another. We live in a shallow world. As Christians we should be caring for the soul.

    • Edmishoe

      I am of course sorry to hear about your sister. Nobody in this world, including the best psychiatrists and medical doctors, had remotely a clue as to what she was suffering from.

      Remember, Jesus also ended his life early. Nobody took it from him. Sometimes God calls his children home when their suffering gets too hard to bear. I fell certain that we would have all done the same thing she did. We are what we are by the grace of God. Translated: your sister was what she was by the grace of God. We need to stop asking why, and start honoring her for the human being, made in God’s image, that she was.

      I do not fault her; God called her to glorify him in a way that only He understands. The worst thing we can do as humans, especially believers, is to NOT have the highest respect for your sister. Anyone who thinks she did the wrong thing is out of line.

      I shall look forward to meeting her one day, when our sinful, sorry, selves have been transformed.

      Think of her as a HERO. You have no other data to the contrary. This issue was between her and our Lord. Haven’t we learned from Job’s friends?

    • Jim W.


      Are all suicides herioc or just some? If just some how do you distinguish which ones are heroic from the ones that aren’t?

    • Ray D

      As I reread my post I realized it seems cold and heartless. There was no intention to infer wrongdoing on anyone’s part. It was to merely state that often times rather than a medical problem it is a spiritual problem and our job is not to judge but to be willing to take the journey with a friend and help carry the load. May Christ grant us the understanding and love to walk with a brother through the valleys. You carry a heavy burden that must be hard to understand. May God give us the grace to just be a brother.

    • J.R.


      I question your use of the term “hero”.

      Speaking from personal experience with a family member who committed suicide, I see no heroic action in it. All I see is someone who let their vanity consume them which clouded their perspective on life and now his wife is left to pick up the pieces he chose to abandon. He may have thought he was doing her a favor (life insurance) but now she lives in a never ending guilt of what she could have done to stop him.

    • Edmishoe

      Jim W

      We don’t have access to that data. Those who commit suicide (as our Lord did, only in a different manner) have sufferings that some can not imagine.

      Our Lord’s sufferings began in the Garden, the weight of the world was upon his shoulders, and the Father, being gracious, allowed all his sufferings to end in just a few hours. Nobody killed Jesus; he gave his life for us. The problem with the sister is that she was dealing with a different set of sufferings than our Lord. Give me one reason her death was sin…. without judging. It can’t be done. Trust me. Nobody has the right to make that judgment. Those who do are self-righteous .


      You have no data (or right, if you ask me) to say, “All I see is someone who let their vanity consume them which clouded their perspective on life and now his wife is left to pick up the pieces he chose to abandon.” My friend, you didn’t know anything inside this family member and is ability to cope with certain stresses and, perhaps, even demonic involvement. You are judging from the outside; God judges the heart. The point here is that we don’t have the data is question his decision.

      Job gave up on life. He never personally recovered. Throughout the book, Job never recovers from his tragedy. He never gets up and moves on. But, and this is a big ‘but,’ God supernaturally chose to intervene in Job’s life. This, and THIS only is why Job survived. God does not always chose to intervene as he did in Job’s case.

      People are born along a spectrum of strength and determination. Due to the sin of Adam and Eve, many people are born in certain ways they can not control. The lamb or blind are obvious external examples. The same happens with internal examples, but none we can see. For this reason, we are not able to judge another in this area.

      Bottom line: we are not privy to the data that we need to make an assessment on anybody who commits suicide.

      Sorry, have to run.

    • Jim W.


      “We don’t have access to that data”? Huh? Is this some kind of lab experiment?

      You side-stepped my question. You are the one that concluded that her suicide was heroic, not me. So apparently, you had sufficent “data” to make such a judgment. I’m simply trying to find out how you came to came to such a conclusion. What was your criteria, what kind of “data” do you evaluate?

      You say in your response to J.R. that we aren’t privy to the “data” so we can’t judge on anyone who commits suicide. If that is true, how were you able to judge CMP’s sister’s suicide as heroic?

      And your last couple of sentences don’t make much sense, at least in response to me. My question was directed totally towards you, not CMP’s sister.

    • J.R.


      As far as my sister’s husband, what you may see as heroic, I see as cowardly. He chose to abandon his responsibilities to his family; basically renounced his marriage vow’s and took the path of least resistance.

      Please, honor their life as they lived it but don’t honor their selfish last act.

      BTW, Christ action on the cross was a selfless act not a selfish act. There in and of itself is the difference.

      Sorry CMP, I know it’s off the original post but I felt I needed to respond.

    • cheryl u


      John 10:18 says of Jesus that He had power to lay His life down and power to take it up again. To compare a man or woman committing suicide to what Jesus did seems more than a little bit odd to me. Not a single one of us has the power to take up our lives again. And John 19:30 says of Him that He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. To be able to decide to just willingly give up your spirit and to be able to take up your life again is a far cry from one who commits suicide by drugs, gunshot, or whatever other method they may chose. The comparison just plain does not work.

      Besides He was God–remember?– and this was a very specific thing He was sent forth by the Father to do to redeem the world.

    • Michael L


      1) Are we as Christians realizing the pain we may be inflicting on others reading this blog when we label someone who commited suicide as either a hero or selfish ? Neither one can hold in a tragic event such as this

      2) We are far from CMP’s original question(s) me thinks. Are anti-depressants the norm ? Should they be the last resort ? Do we deny God something by trying to intervene (although I muze whether we can ever deny God anything.. now there’s an interesting theological debate ?)

      In Him

    • Brian Eckes

      Michael, this post is a gift from heaven, as you definitely are. I thank God for your bravery in posting these EXTREMELY difficult topics.

      I struggle day to day in a gray area of thinking that goes like this:

      “God wants me to be 100% dependent on Him, so I should get off drugs and lean on Him completely.”

      Contrasted with this line of thinking below:

      “Nonsense! Your brain is malfunctioning, therefore the medicine is a Gift from God and must be used every day for the rest of your life.”

      Every day I wrestle with feelings of guilt for not believing that Jesus can heal me and with feelings of contentment with the choice I have made concerning my OCD/depression/anxiety treatment. I have reckoned myself, after accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior, having been cleared from any condemnation from God (Romans 8:1), and I try to find the perfect, acceptable Will of God (Romans 12:2) with regards to certain choices and decisions in my life. However, I still wrestle with the implications of taking these medicines. I am extremely scared because my mother was diagnosed Bi-polar many years ago and because science does point towards defects of the physical brain. There are so many unanswered questions that I think about: WHY did my mother get diagnosed? WHAT happened? HOW did it happen? Is this REALLY genetics? After all, she was a good Christian woman who sang in church and witnessed to others, doing her duty as it were. She just could not control her racing mental thoughts and her manic phases which led her into adultery.

      This causes me much anguish, but I also remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:25: DO NOT BE ANXIOUS. It is a command! A precious command because He knows how we humans can get so wrapped up in ourselves!

      Currently, this is a very personal and deep issue I am struggling with, but the good news is that I am destined to overcome according the Word of God. It is just that I want to be extremely careful on this journey to respect my body and treat it well. For instance: If I decide to come off of it, it should be VERY SLOW. I tried to come off of Paxil way too quickly before (not realizing the dangers), and suffering horrible withdrawal effects, eventually relapsing into a deep depression. Exercise and proper nutrition is extremely important as well. Also, surrounding yourself with Godly, sympathetic people is key.

      But I may not come off of it. This COULD be my thorn in the flesh, although apostle Paul did not need any use of an anti-depressant. It MAY be Godly to be ON medication to control my malfunctioning brain! It is Godly to take care of one’s spouse, provide for the family via job, and take care of one’s body. So, on the flip side, maybe it is INDEED Godly to take medicine, perhaps indefinitely. Again, this is MY journey and story, so God is in control and I must submit to His will during this journey. Everyone is very unique in God’s eyes.

      At the end of the day I must submit to God…

    • George C

      When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail is often the reason that meds are given out so indescriminately.

      I think that it is quite important to remember that while meds can stabalize someone’s brain activity, they cannot deal with the dark thoughts, poor perspective, ect. most doctors can’t do this on any meaningful level.

    • Dr Mike

      As I wrote elsewhere,

      ” . . . he announces that antidepressants are over-prescribed and too easily obtained – but he offers no statistics to back up his claims and only a sad story here and there about how easily one can get drugs from a physician. In doing so, he impugns not only the professionalism and diligence of doctors in general, but of Christian physicians and psychiatrists in particular.”

      Michael is no expert on this subject. His opinions are that of a lay person and should be regarded as such.

    • C Michael Patton

      Yes, while we can sypathize and be saddend that those who commit suicide found themselves with what they saw as the only option, but I would never call it heroic. Never.

      Christ’s giving up his spirit was simply a way of saying he allowed others to kill him. It was in no sense suicide or giving up.

    • Joe

      Or if Jesus did allow himself to be killed, almost suicidally … then one day he is supposed to return again, better and stronger than ever. But also re-defined somewhat.

      Regarding the depressing dark night of the soul? I relate it to the Apocalypse. In the “parousia” or second coming, second “appearance” of Christ/God, it is said, many things are quiet different than even many very religious persons have thought; the “noble” are found “fools”; most of those who thought they were following a “Christ” turn out to have been following a “false Christ”; many who thought they were “first” with God turn out to be “last”; etc…

      And so, if a new theology leads you to see a different view of Christ? Then after all, that is where we are all supposed to be, one day.

    • Edmishoe

      Jim W

      Your response is discouraging because it takes up needless time rehashing what has been said:

      Briefly, I said:

      Give me one reason her death was sin…. without judging. It can’t be done.

      We need to stop asking why, and start honoring her for the human being, made in God’s image, that she was.

      I do not fault her; God called her to glorify him in a way that only He understands. The worst thing we can do as humans, especially believers, is to NOT have the highest respect for your sister. Anyone who thinks she did the wrong thing is out of line.

      Think of her as a HERO. The emphasis on THINK… why, we don’t have an data to the contrary, and we are to esteem others better than ourselves.

      I’m going to leave it at this; I think some statements made out here about his sister is unthoughtful.

    • Edmishoe


      I find your comment about your sister (but I would never call it heroic. Never) perhaps one of the most self-righteous comments I have heard in quite some time.

      I have no more desire to comment on this site. You all have the right to your positions, but I see I don’t fit in.

    • Dr Mike

      “Edmishoe” has issues. And not just theological.

      He has either taken his Calvinism to an absurd conclusion or he cannot stand the thought that we – including people who kill themselves – are responsible for our choices.

      We cannot sin and claim that God, for reasons he alone understands, is glorified in it. He is not the author of evil; suicide is evil: it destroys the image of God in a person. We do not have the right to decide whether or not our life is worth continuing.

      This does not mean that Michael’s sister was evil but only that the act of suicide was evil. Caused by Sin in the guise of depression – that I suspect was of organic etiology – it was nevertheless sin. In her confused and (what was to her a) terrifyingly hopeless state, she chose to do wrong. Is she culpable? Yes and no. Yes, because we are responsible; no, because she may not have been in control of her mind.

      It – and every suicide – is a tragedy. To elevate it to heroic or some kind of ordained martyrdom is simply not the case.

      [FWIW, I don’t belong here either. But I’ll hang around until I’m asked to leave. No need for “E” to pout and run home: I’ve done that and it doesn’t accomplish or prove a thing. And I don’t think anyone was the poorer because of my absence. We just have to get over ourselves.]

    • Christian

      Here is an interesting take on this issue by a Christian woman who was on anti-depressants for a time:

    • Mike

      I’m not sure you understand antidepressants. That puts you in good company with a lot of doctors who don’t seem to understand how to prescribe them. They prescribe them a lot, but often at lower levels than do the job. It takes some skill to be aggressive enough to use enough medicine for a long enough period to do the job. Some people need to stay on them for a long time. And taper off them properly if they are completing drug therapy.

      Antidepressants are often a first line action. The sooner someone gets on them and up to the right dosage, the sooner they can benefit from biblical cognitive therapy. Depression puts the mind in a deep freeze. Eventually people tend to come out of it on their own, but it’s a long slow process. Medicine can shorten that so that godly counsel can start to have the desired impact.

      It’s true that many people don’t need medicine. The problem is that depression really spirals downward in others. Generalities just don’t apply.

    • Char


      The idea of seeing yourself as “other” resonates with me. I remember looking at myself for years and seeing a podperson that I hated. That was not me. That was someone who had imprisoned me. It took some time to realize yes that is just who I really am.

      I don’t believe I would be who I am without the sufferings of depression or my many neuroses. The depressions really did make me better after making me so much worse-broke some of my incurvatus. Dark and painful goodness, like the cross. I saw that in order to be purified, the infection had to be drawn out. But man it was painful-good pain, redemptive pain.

      So I too wonder if it’s not really an attempt to run from what is for our best sometimes. The possibilities seem a little scary in a way-life would be easier as a “normal” person wouldn’t it? And our theology of suffering is poor. We don’t see that our sufferings are crosses-they fix us, they are our little part in the drama of Christ’s greater sufferings-they unite us to him, and well, I want that. So I suffer.

      Still I think that God has ways of breaking in regardless, so meds or no meds he will conform us to the image of his Son. I think convictions to take or not to take them are all under his providence.

      From reading these posts I have to say I do think in some ways the internet is it’s own sort of talk therapy-people admit their struggles with a level of candor they might not otherwise have and there’s a camaraderie of pain. I know I wrote through my depressions in an extremely melodramatic manner and that just made me feel better. So it seems the internet can function like the hole king Midas’ barber cried his secret into (and it does sometimes get out and bite you in the butt). This doesn’t mean it is a replacement for a doctor for those who are truly and deeply depressed. But for the rest of us, we’re crying out and knowing at least someone is hearing. I don’t know if that should be reviled.

    • Joe

      In brief defense of Edmishoe’s last remarks:

      It might be that Ed after all, feels that 1) Christianity is essentially in fact, centered around, if not suicide, but certainly, self-sacrifice.

      To fail to see a self-tortured individual, as Christlike in some way, might not be theologically accurate.

      IN fact, there 2) are some theologians who even suggest that unless we ourselves pass through the “fire” of the dark night of the soul, of a “second” deep and painful re-examination of our deepest childhood religious beliefs, we do not really find Christ at all.

      3) Catholics likewise believe that some suffering is redemptive, after all. Even “heroic”?

    • Dr Mike

      If suicide is such a God-honoring and God-pleasing thing to do, why aren’t its proponents killing themselves? If suicide is “heroic,” then why aren’t its defenders not leading by example?

      Or do ideas and words not have meaning, moral imperatives, or consequences? Are such words and notions merely soothing lies we tell ourselves to get by?

      What is truly heroic is choosing to live in such situations. Taking one’s own life is a desperate, horrible, self-involved, and self-indulgent thing to do. Tragic, yes. Heroic, not at all.

    • cheryl u

      Does committing suicide to end your own pain bear any resemblance to Jesus sacrifice for us on the cross? I certainly see none.

    • mbaker

      Sorry guys, can’t agree. Sometimes people get so down on themselves, for whatever reason, they honestly think they will be doing others a favor by ending it all.

      That’s why I don’t condemn suicide victims at all. Just because Judas committed suicide, because he had such guilt for the terrible wrong for selling out Jesus (and I’m sure some folks can justify that because he wasn’t the elect), I’m afraid I can’t universally apply that, at least solely on that basis.

      Perhaps some of you more enlightened folks can show me some other relevant scriptures.

    • Brian Eckes

      In response to Dr. Mike’s comment directly above, you can even see a twisted form of religious suicidal duty in the Muslim Jihadists who seek martyrdom by blowing themselves up. THAT is Anti-Christ. It is a backwards mentality of sacrificial duty, not the Christ-like sacrificial duty of the God-honoring Christian.

      Christ is the Lamb of God, slain for us and made sin for us. It is/was God who decided to sacrifice Himself, i.e., take on the full weight of sin (those who crucified Christ where gentiles AND jews reveling in their blood lust at the time).

      Jesus did NOT commit suicide, he allowed mankind to kill him so that all of sin was placed upon the sacrifice, the symbolism is extremely important and infinitely deep if you read closely the sacrificial system designed by God in the O.T. In other words, it PLEASED God to put Christ to death to SAVE MANKIND!

      Also, if a mere human claimed to be God and then was crucified, that would have been the END of the story. God, however, RESURRECTED Jesus, showing that man and satan could not defeat God and His plan for human salvation. God, in effect, placed His stamp of approval on Jesus as the Messiah, a sacrifice for all mankind fulfilling the O.T. sacrificial system of atonement. If you consider Jesus Christ committed suicide, then you can also believe that a bull, goat, dove, or lamb committed suicide as well. There is an infinite difference between sacrifice and suicide, one is self-serving, the other is un-selfish. It is up to you to decide which one is which. If you believe it was selfish suicide, do you then believe that the man who jumps on an enemy’s grenade to save his platoon a suicide?

      The ways of God are foolish to mankind, but to those who believe, it is infinite WISDOM.

    • cheryl u


      I have a hunch that most of the folks that are speaking here of people that commit suicide having no resemblance to Jesus sacrifice are looking at it from a similar perspective as the one taken by CMP in this short article regarding his sister’s death:

      Those that want relief from their own pain above all else and commit suicide to accomplish it, aren’t resembling Jesus sacrifice for others in any way that I can see.

    • cheryl u

      It seems to me that the recorded incidences of suicide in the Bible, (one we would call an “assisted suicide”) were all done for what appeared to be very personal or selfish reasons. I don’t see any listed that were in any way done as a sacrifice for others. Here is a link with the list I worked from:

      If there are other recorded suicides in the Bible, I have missed them. I believe the same 7 were listed at other sites besides this “fun trivia” site.

    • Char

      I think some do commit suicide for what they see as altruistic reasons (for example those who wish to cease being a burden) as warped as that may be.

      It seems to me there are some crossed wires here as people are all trying to defend the feelings of others. Some want to avoid the horrible condemnations of those who have committed suicide; others wish to protect those they hurt. Both are probably good motives but I think there can be some consensus here.

      Perhaps we can agree that suicide is tragic, but the person who does this is no worse off than any of us. If he is a Christian, he is still in Christ victorious over that final death and all his enemies, including himself. Thing is, we all die as the result of sin-the suicide is just a little more direct. So there we are in the same boat; none of us heroes, but forgiven.

    • J.R.

      Suicide is a tragic event. It robs us of a loved one and potentially steals forever the joys of others. Let’s not honor it as an act of heroics but call it what it probably is, self murder.

      I pray no one here has to witness the after effects of losing a loved one to suicide. The emotions of the survivor’s, their struggles, their fist pounding anger at God, there never ending weeping, their cry of death upon themselves all rips your heart out. The stress and pressures on those of us trying console and comfort are enormous and never ending.

      Only by God’s grace and His love have all of us been able to survive. Praise God!

    • Judy

      I’m sure this was not intentional, but the one thing you did not mention was wrestling through this problem in prayer until God gave you an insight, a direction, an answer, or a word. You also did not mention applying the word of God to the problem in such a way that your faith grows stronger.

      Having had a psychotic breakdown, I know the drug route and all that that’s about. On the other hand, I know the spiritual route which is not always fast, not always fun, not always clear, and not always what anyone wants to do. I don’t know about the rest of you, but there are times when I literally get in bed and pray for hours on end until God speaks to me about what is going on and tells me what I need to know to win this battle. Along with that, I search the Word for encouragement, and I claim those promises which apply to my life.

      I also ask my closest Christian friends to pray with me (according to God’s word of two or more asking anything in Jesus’ name) and I actually choose by an act of my will to believe (whether I feel it or not) that God is going to answer, give me answers, solve the problem, make me feel better, and resolve whatever conflict I’m in.

      Surprisingly, it is not easy. Sometimes the battle rages for weeks. Sometimes it’s only hours. Yes, I have suffered depression, high anxiety, dissociation, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, to name a few. And yes, I have done this way of finding help for many, many years because God is faithful and He never lets me down. I find that every victory comes by faith and while many of you may not want to hear this or may feel that I’m judging or condemning you for not having enough faith, that is not what I’m saying. I often go into these battles with little faith, but the battle builds my faith as I search God’s word more and begin to believe it. Faith is believing what you don’t see, and yes, it is hard to do at times, but God is faithful.

      I believe that this is God’s way. You cannot “prove” that depression or mental illness is caused by an imbalance. It doesn’t show in tests. There is no test. Although the brain itself may, in an image, look different, it does not prove it’s a chemical imbalance.

      I really encourage anyone who struggles with this to test God and see if what He says is true. Is he all sufficient? I know He is because I’ve gone into the pit and been brought out again by God.

      If God can’t bring light to depression, if He can’t bring us through it without the help of man, then what kind of God is he? I don’t believe in a God who is powerless in “some” areas. I really don’t. And I don’t because I’ve had to trust him in some really bad situations and although they were not things I wanted to go through and they were not things that were instantly fixed, I was forced by God to go through them and to trust Him and He never let me down. Doctors, on the other hand, have let me down more times than I can count and they missed several problems in my body…

    • Brian Eckes

      God is not weak. WE are the ones who lack faith for things we need to ask God for in our failing physical bodies. HOWEVER, I strongly believe that we must do the best we can in this life and find that perfect and acceptable Will of God.

      I believe that Job said it right when he said, in chapter 13, verse 15, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face.”

      I will defend why I am using medication right now, even though it may not be what God wills for me to do. But, until I get a revelation/response from God that leads me in a more perfect way, I will continue taking my medicine to control what I believe to be clinical physical brain problems. To be honest though, I have MUCH more faith in God now, after having been through previous medicinal hells, and less faith in HUMAN doctors. But, I am not a Christian Scientist and since the brain is an organ, I am doing my best to control a physical problem using chemicals that God has provided scientists with to make medicines with.

      Is it right? Is it wrong? I do not know with 100% certainty but I will surely defend my ways before Him. Day to day, I still need to trust in Him and follow Him no matter what because HE alone knows the best plans for me.

      We all live and die before God, therefore, we must continue to follow God through and in Jesus Christ.

      As far as the topic of suicide goes, I have attempted it before. I have confessed and repented before God, but I can’t say I won’t try it again in the future. I have FAITH that I will not because I am now FOLLOWING Jesus daily and my eyes have been opened enough to see what a great sin it is to kill ones-self (not judging here, just stating a fact). Clinical depression is as close to a literal hell as I would EVER want to come close to. It feels as if God is no longer there and there is a murky, black darkness (a mental black hole) that sets in and your mind is drawn to it almost irresistibly.

      Now I know that God is ALWAYS there, because if He were not, then we would not EXIST. So although we can use rational thinking to disprove lies and distortions our mind, or satan, can throw at us, sometimes the mind is so weak (lack of serotonin? Brain damage? Genetics? Lack of faith? No Holy Spirit?!), that it is almost impossible to look away from the darkness. Nietzsche described that if one looks into an abyss, the abyss looks into you. Nietzsche was probably describing clinical depression, but the fact that he berated Christ and said God was ‘dead’ did not help him later in his years when he finally went insane.

      I do believe that if we accept Jesus and FOLLOW him so closely that we feel his presence that we can overcome anything and everything. It is just OUR lack of faith that prevents us. Notice that when Peter took his eyes off of Jesus, he fell into the water he was previously walking on! His FAITH failed him, not God’s.

    • Kristen

      This is a very interesting post with a lot of great insight. Out of curiosity, do you have any thoughts on the nouthetic counseling developed by Jay Adams’? (Maybe you have written about it, and I just have not seen it.) Christian counseling vs. nouthetic counseling is slowly becoming a debated topic at the two churches I attend in Ohio. If you ever have the desire to post your thoughts on it, it would be very interesting to hear what you have to say on it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.