Friday, October 28, 2011

Praying it away. With Prozac.

I used to fight with people all the time about the Christian response to medication for depression and anxiety. Really, like I never got off that soapbox. I work in the field of mental health and have spent years unraveling the complicated maze of depression in my own world. So, if you asked me the right question, I'd answer you both personally AND professionally. And most likely with a little too much opinion thrown in.

These days, I've gathered enough Jesus to offer grace to both sides of the argument while considering the person individually. I don't have a boxed answer - "Everyone should be on meds!" or "Nobody should! Say your prayers!" It's not that simple.

Here are my tips for considering meds for depression and anxiety:

1. Pray and pray for peace in your decisions. I believe with all my heart that Jesus is the Great Physician and I also believe he runs a superb pharmacy.

2. Meet with someone qualified who will not push you in either direction. Let them explain your options, the side effects and alternate forms of therapy that may help without medications.

3. Inform yourself. It's 2011. Read and research with an open mind, but don't get lost in the mix.

4. Trust yourself. You know or you will soon what works, what doesn't, what helps, and what makes things worse.

5. Be flexible. Remember that you're not committing to anything for a lifetime. I evaluate my emotional and mental health twice a year and discuss my thoughts on changing things with people I trust. I integrate all kinds of non med things into my life that help me participate in managing depression.

Also I keep a few people really informed which in turn gives them permission to say things like, "Um, do you think your meds are working?" Seriously five years ago I would never have written this post and been horrified if someone asked if I took meds. Now I could care less. Honestly. And I answer those questions with, "obviously NOT!" And we laugh because life is messy and so, so funny sometimes.

And, to get on my soapbox just for a moment, I don't think depression or anxiety or much else can be prayed away. They are symptoms......not sins. I live as close to the Almighty as I possibly can. I've quit taking meds more than once to be more spiritual and trust God more. There was nothing spiritually healthy about the downfall from that. Trust me.

Even today as I took the meds that keep my own darkness at bay, I prayed, "Grant me compassion for those who struggle with all things today. Surround this life with grace. Teach me in the darkness as I embrace Your light. Amen."


Meredith Gould said...

Not to mention the reality that we know a LOT more about brain biochemistry than anyone did in, oh, the 1st century.

It's not wise and certainly not loving to tell those who need meds that they should "pray" or "be delivered." I watched a version of this go in within 12 Step recovery rooms years ago. People died as a result of being told that all they had to do was "stop drinking" or "stop over-eating" or "stop being co-dependent."

Don't think I'll ever get down from this soapbox!

Rob said...

You mean, "Cheer Up!" is not a cure for depression??? Wow.

My Mom is 87. She living in a nursing facility, having mobility issues, along with other health concerns. Until recently, she faithfully attended the Wednesday healing service at their church, along with my Dad. In fact, they were usually the altar guild for that service. (Dad still goes every week)

Anyway, one nurse told my Mom that her faith should make her strong enough to walk again. Poor Mom felt like crap after that, as if the nurse questioned the level of her faith. Very Uncool. Dad had some strong words for the supervisor!

Prayer is awesome medicine, but I can't help feeling that Jesus would be pissed at us if we didn't take advantage of all the medical advances his Dad helps us find.

Oh my, is there room for me on that soapbox?