How do anti-depressants impact spiritual brokenness? I wonder…

anti-depressants and spiritual brokenessAnti-depressants for the Christian?

This is an issue fraught with varying degrees of confusion.

The reason I even ask the question is this… I know many people who are “on” anti-depressants, and more than one of them has told me that the effect they feel is that their emotions are sort of “flat.” No lows (the desired outcome, being “anti” depressants) but also no highs. On the surface level, that bothers me… like having a very low level of emotional-elasticity. What impact would that have on the ability to truly worship with all your heart, mind, and soul? Not that worship is purely emotional, but it should be a part, don’t you think? Personally, I don’t think I’d want that kind of limitation.

On the “down” side of the emotions is this: In Pastoral counseling with some of these individuals, I’ve noticed a seeming inability to really grieve over sin. Sometimes it’s manifested in the inability to truly see/feel the magnitude of a betrayal they’ve committed, or a sin they’ve nurtured. Not only are they not connecting with the reality and depth of what they’ve done, they also seem to be unable to reach a point of godly grief (2 Corinthians 7:10). My understanding of what Paul teaches it that godly grief is necessary for deep, lasting repentance to come about. I wonder if this type of medication, even if warranted on one level, is erecting a spiritual barrier on another?

Were I in those shoes – pressed to make the choice of EITHER being debilitated by a constant heaviness of depression, and therefore being engaged in a life-long struggle to have joy in the LORD – OR – taking an anti-depressant and running the risk of not being able to truly see and deal with my own sin adequately, I wonder what I would choose.

Perhaps the LORD’s intention is not that we escape the lows, but receive them as His will and means of our sanctification, faithfully enduring for the sake of His purposes and for His glory (Romans 5:3-5). I’m reminded of C.H. Spurgeon’s battle with this very thing.

What are your thoughts?

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2 thoughts on “How do anti-depressants impact spiritual brokenness? I wonder…

  1. Here’s an interesting perspective from John Piper: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9eaC-2quwA

    I believe the problem is the method of diagnosis. It’s relatively straightforward to diagnose cancer or a broken arm or a physical problem. There it is in the scans. It’s objective. Not so with mental problems. How can you tell the difference between someone who has genuine chemical problems or someone who just doesn’t want to process through things? I don’t think you can very well. That’s the rub as far as I see it.

    • Yes… and as I mentioned, the desire to be rid of the “pain” (which may be very real, mind you) may short circuit the process of broken-ness the LORD has in mind… it seems to me.

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