Should Christians Use Anti-Depressants?

Should Christians Use Anti-Depressants?

Should Christians Use Anti-Depressants?

  • Resource with

John Piper

The following is an edited transcription of the audio.

Should Christians use anti-depressants?

It is a gray area. I don’t preach against anti-depressants, though I have mentioned them before and dealt with a good many people who use them.

In the secular world at large there is a huge reaction these days against the overuse and dangers of anti-depressants. The world itself is recognizing that we may be doping up too quick and too superficially.

But still, if you go to a doctor now, very often you’ll be prescribed a medicine for almost any kind of relational, emotional, or behavioral problem that you’re having. That is happening too quickly I think.

I appreciate the concern people have about the use of anti-depressants among Christians. God had something to teach Job—who didn’t have Prozac—through his pain, and he might have something to teach us too.

Therefore, I encourage slowness to use anti-depressants. God may have a way forward for someone before they start altering their mind with physical substances.

However, on the other side, it seems clear to me that the brain is a physical organ with electrical impulses and chemicals, and that mental illness is therefore not merely spiritual. No man could persuade me that all mental derangement is owing to a spiritual cause that has a purely spiritual solution.

There are physical damages that happen in life or that a person is born with that alter the brain’s functionality. The question then becomes whether we should only pray for it to be healed, or whether we might also use medicine to help it.

Just like you take aspirin to get you through a very serious back-ache, you might, for a season, take some kind of medicine that would enable you to get your bearings mentally so that you can then operate without the medicine.

Near our church there is a place called Andrew home and it houses people who are severely mentally disabled. All of them are on heavy medicines to keep them from killing themselves, killing other people, or being totally unable to work.

A few of them worship with us at Bethlehem, and I believe that through their medication they perceive and know God and that God is in fact using them for good. They are seriously mentally ill. I don’t know all of their circumstances, but I couldn’t rule out the option of medicine for them (or for others struggling with certain forms of serious depression) as a means to try and help them get their bearings.

One way medicine can be helpful is if it gets people to a point where they have enough stability to read the Bible. Then, through being able to read the Scriptures, people are able to be refreshed in the Lord and, in time, come off of the medicine. In that case medicine is a means to an end, and that seems perfectly natural to.