I’ve had so many hurting people come to me and tell me that they don’t know what to do. They have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and encouraged to take medication, but their Christian friends and family discourage it, saying, “The Bible says to be anxious about nothing. You don’t need medicine; you just need to trust God.” What do you say to that?
I asked my sweet cousin, Sarah Kauble, who is a psychiatry intern to share with us on the topic. Here are her comments:
is beating fast, its hard to catch your breath, you’re sweaty and you feel like
every thought is racing through you head. Many of us at one point or another
have experienced this…Anxiety. Maybe you’re like me and you lie awake at
night thinking about what happened that day or what you need to do the next
day. While all of us have experienced this at one point or another, for some
this is daily life. For the Christian it can pose a dilemma.
Christians how do we decided we need to seek medical treatment for our
anxiety? I would like to first make a
proposition for you to consider. In Arthur Holmes book, The Idea of a
Christian College he asserts that because God is truth, “all truth
must be God’s truth”. Current research using MRI to study the brain have
shown that certain areas of the brain are affected in a person who has been
diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. These areas of the brain are responsible
for the flight or fight reaction we experience when we are startled by
something. These areas of the brain also release certain chemicals that
increase our heart rate, cause us to sweat, and make us breath quicker, leading
to the physical symptoms of anxiety that
we experience. At this point research shows that those with an anxiety disorder
have chemical imbalances in their brain much like a patient with bipolar or
schizophrenia. If we accept this research as truth then we must also accept
that it is God’s truth.
of anxiety are sometimes due to a medical problem such as a heart condition,
gland problems, or tumors. It is important when experiencing anxiety symptoms
on a regular basis to the point that you are facing impairment in your everyday
life, that you seek medical counsel so you can be evaluated for life
threatening conditions. But what do you do when a physical cause for your
symptoms has been ruled out as a cause for your anxiety? According to
diagnostic criteria an anxiety disorder is diagnosed when anxiety causes
impairment in the person’s life and interferes with daily activities.
Medication can be given to control the symptoms of anxiety, but research shows
that medication in conjunction with therapy is the best treatment for anxiety
disorders. Medication helps control the symptoms but does not get to the root
cause of anxiety.
counselor can help you discover what causes your anxiety and learn how to
better manage it. Medication may not be needed for a lifetime with anxiety, it
may just be needed short term to help the patient learn coping skills and get
through a particularly anxiety ridden time in their life. Seeking the help of a
Christian counselor can help you manage your anxiety in a Godly way and may
even suggest when you might need to see a health care provider. Philippians 4:7 says to cast your cares on
God because he cares for you. We should pray when we are anxious and we should
let God know how we are feeling. As a result of our sinful nature, disease
entered the world. While we have to face the consequence of disease we do not
have to live in bondage to it. The Bible says that Jesus came to give us an
abundant life and that He came to heal us. I believe that because of God’s
great love for us He provides ways for us to overcome our illness. We can rejoice in the fact that God has
already won the victory over sin, hardships, illness and yes even anxiety. He wants us to be whole, complete, and
lacking in nothing. He has endowed
doctors and scientists with the knowledge to develop medications and to study
disease processes to help us with our illness.
and Saddock’s Handbook of Clinical Psychiatry 5th Ed, Benjamin Saddock M.D. and
Virgina Saddock M.D.; Chapter 15:
Anxiety Disorders, Wolters & Kluwer 2010.
Idea of a Christian College,
Arthur Holmes; Wm B Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1987