Prescription for Guilt

My friends think that as a Christian I shouldn't need to take antidepressants.

I take antidepressants for depression and anxiety. However, many of my Christian friends suggest I'm just "popping pills" to solve my problems. Why do believers make people feel guilty for taking medication for depression?

Such reactions often are based on ignorance or misunderstanding. Many people don't understand what clinical depression is or how utterly debilitating it can be. They mistakenly think it's a case of "the blues," and that if you just prayed more and pushed yourself more, you'd be fine.

But depression can be an unremitting darkness that affects both mind and body. It can occur without any apparent precipitant and involves intense emotional anguish as well as a rash of physiological symptoms: poor appetite, weight loss, sleep disturbances (frequent midnight and early morning awakenings), loss of energy, and/or an inability to concentrate.

People not only don't understand what depression is, but they seem to assume that medication to treat something with an emotional component is wrong, except when a clear organic cause is discovered. But the mind/body connection is so complex that such black-and-white thinking leads to gross oversimplification.

When biological signs accompany the psychological aspects of depression, research has shown the most effective treatment is a combination of psychological and medical attention. God graciously has enabled people to discover medications that alleviate much human suffering, depression included.

At the same time, it's important to note that taking medication alone usually isn't effective. Other actions can aid in recovery. Someone with arthritis takes medication and follows an exercise regimen. Someone who's depressed may not only require medication, but also a Christian counselor to help her work through any thoughts and feelings that feed the depression.

Remember, Scripture is kind to Christians suffering with depression. God's Word doesn't condemn it or indulge it, as evidenced in many of the Psalms. As you learn to work through your depression in a Christ-honoring way, use the Psalms as prayers.

Back to bulimic

I'm 27, married, and the mom of four. When I was a teen, I battled bulimia and anorexia. Although I feel God cured me of my eating disorders, now that I'm trying to lose the weight I gained after four pregnancies, I'm concerned I may relapse. Is this common?

It is. After all, you're probably tempted to find a shortcut to a prepregnancy body after having four babies in short succession. It's also possible that with four young ones to care for, your life feels a little out of control. Attempting to control your weight may be one way you relieve your anxiety about that.

I encourage you to think about what function an eating disorder serves for you. Understanding its purpose will help you battle it more effectively. For example, when you were a teen, the odds are high your eating disorder had more to do with some other issue than simply your body weight. I suspect whatever that was has cropped up again and needs your attention.

Since you don't want to model eating-disorder behaviors for your watching children, keep yourself from getting locked into this destructive pattern again. If the struggle intensifies or you begin to fall back into old habits, seek help in the ways that benefited you before—counseling or a support group.

Wrongfully wed?

I'm married to a non-Christian whom I love very much. But I'm afraid that since this is my second marriage, in God's eyes I'm not married.

It sounds as though you fear you've sinned against God. If you married a non-Christian while you were a Christian, then you have (2 Corinthians 6:14). If you pursued divorce outside the parameters of Scripture, then you have (Matthew 19:8-9). Ask God to search your heart and expose whether or not you've been obedient to him.

Then what? When God's Spirit convicts us of some sin in our life, he also calls us to confess our sin and seek his forgiveness.

The result? Our gracious God is "faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). When you confess and repent, you discover God to be merciful, compassionate, and willing to forgive you because of the work of Christ on the cross.

Don't be afraid to face the truth. There's nothing the Cross has not covered. Go to God and then revel in his forgiveness, seek his strength to obey him now and in the future, and then enjoy his gracious blessing on your life.

Diane Mandt Langberg, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist in private practice and an author. E-mail your relationship questions for Dr. Langberg to tcwedit@christianitytoday.com.


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