Panic attacks, anxiety disorders, phobias, depression, and other mental health disorders affect millions of people. Although medical experts believe that several of the aforementioned ailments originate within a person’s psyche, there are times when a chemical imbalance is the cause—or times when a problem that began in the psyche has contributed to a chemical imbalance that now perpetuates the problem. If this is the case, medication is often prescribed to help counter the imbalance, which in turn treats the symptoms of the psychological ailment. Is this a sin? No. God has allowed man to grow in his knowledge of medicine, which God often uses in the healing process. Does God need man-made medicine in order to heal? Of course not. But God has chosen to allow the practice of medicine to progress, and there is no biblical reason not to avail ourselves of it.
While medicine can certainly be a helpful tool in the healing process for which we can give thanks to God, it is best to think of medicine as just one aspect of a complete treatment plan. Healing will not come from medicine alone. Often mental illness struggles involve emotions, physical realities, and spiritual realities. Attending to all of these aspects is vital. Ultimately, God is the Great Physician, and it is He who holds the power to truly heal in all these ways (John 4:14). So we look to God first and foremost for our healing. Each aspect of a complete treatment plan can be received as a gift from Him and used based on His wisdom.
Many times those with mental illness struggles will benefit from one-on-one or group counseling as part of their treatment plan. Healthy habits like solid nutrition, sleep, exercise, and time outdoors are also important. Perhaps most important is growing in one’s walk with God. This is true for all believers regardless of mental illness. We need God and we need to be transformed by His truth. We all need His healing in various ways. And we all need His presence and His equipping to live well in this fallen world (Ephesians 6:10–18; Philippians 2:12–13; Hebrews 13:5–6; 1 Peter 5:6–11; 2 Peter 1:3–8). Every believer is called to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). Believers are counseled, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6; cf. Romans 8:26–27; Hebrews 4:14–16). Believers are called to carry one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2) and pray for one another (Ephesians 6:18; James 5:16). Believers struggling with mental illness, just like all believers, benefit greatly from regular Bible study, regular prayer, and genuine community.
For some, medication is a temporary aspect of a treatment plan. They might take medicine on a limited basis in order to treat the symptoms such that they can more fully deal with the underlying causes. They continue to rely upon the Word of God and wise counsel for deeper healing and transformation in their hearts and minds, and often the need for medicine diminishes. It would seem there are others whose bodies require long-term usage of anti-depressants in order to keep symptoms at bay. Also, certain other psychological disorders, such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, require long-term pharmaceutical usage, much like insulin for diabetes. Medication usage should be discussed with one’s doctor, family, and other healthcare providers to make the wisest decision for any particular individual in any given season.
God can heal supernaturally and miraculously. We should pray to that end. God also heals through medicine and doctors. We should pray to that end, as well. Regardless of which direction God takes, our ultimate trust must be in Him alone (Matthew 9:22).