Can a Christian suffer from depression and mental illness? This question seems more and more common for young Christian adults and teenagers. Scientifically, the answer is yes! About one in four adults will struggle with depression or a mental illness in their lifetime. As Christians, facing the stigma that the church has developed against mental illness can be one of the biggest obstacles to overcome to heal.
Mental illness isn’t the occasional feeling blue or stressed out that we all experience. Mental illness is classified as “a condition that causes serious disorder in a person’s behavior or thinking.” It’s when our anxieties and depression become so debilitating it begins affecting our daily lives. How we treat others, how we see our faith, and how we see ourselves can all be altered negatively by mental illness.
Christians often struggle with the idea of mental illness, as many churches have struggled with addressing it in their congregations. Christians and churches are quick to pin the cause of mental illness on a lack of faith and may ridicule Christians that seek professional help. Just like everyone else, Christians are not immune to physical or mental ailments. We live in a fallen world! Since Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, our minds and bodies were poisoned with sin and other ailments.
If Christians can suffer from mental illness scientifically, what about spiritually? Of course, they can! Even as believers, Christians can suffer from the inherent flaws we developed from our fall in Genesis. Some of the most significant figures in the Bible, such as Paul and King David, struggled with constant anxiety and depression. Are we going to condemn them as well?
Present circumstances and past trauma are just a couple of examples of what can affect our inclination to mental illness. As Christians, we should remember two things when our minds start to get the better of us: we’re only human, and we have a loving God to whom we can turn in times of crisis. Thanks to our savior Jesus, we can combine our faith with professional help to overcome any obstacle.
There is a clear line between demonic possession and mental illness. Often, this is used by churches to disparage those who are struggling. That’s a conversation for another blog post, but it is a term used to prevent Christians from getting the professional help they need. Part of being human is to realize that we’re all in this together! The very nature of the church and our faith is grounded in the sense of community. Indeed, humans have been communal creatures since our creation! Reaching out for help in times of need isn’t a sign of demonic influence or a weakness of faith; it’s only human!
Christians have an extra tool in our box to help give us an edge in our battles against mental illness: prayer. God calls us to lean on him in times of crisis so that we may be granted guidance and comfort. Remember when Paul and his friends went to Macedonia? They were victims of anxiety and sadness during their entire stay, but they leaned on God through prayer and expressed relief when Titius arrived. Titus provided the human rock they needed to succeed, while God provided the spiritual rock!
Christians can and do struggle with mental illness. NuWell Christian Counseling works to provide therapy that is faithful and true, with therapy methods that are based on Scripture. Christians don’t have to battle mental illness alone, and Nuwell can provide them with an anonymous, safe space to grow in themselves and their faith!