The use of psychotropic drugs is so common these days that it is accepted as normal, unquestioned as a valid approach to all kinds of emotional upsets, thought obsessions, and behavioral problems. We ought not so easily accept that a need for psychotropic drugs is so often necessary. First, drugs affect both body and mind and can cause more problems. Unless there is some extraordinary need the saying fits, “Don’t fix what ain’t broke.” Second, taking drugs for emotional problems covers the pain with tylenol when it is an antibiotic that is needed. It misses the target, doesn’t treat the real problem. Third, it shifts blame and attention to what is not the problem; then the person doesn’t work on the problem. As any doctor knows, if we mis-diagnose the problem then it is unlikely that the right solution will be applied.
Part one of this two-part series presented nine points to ponder regarding psychotropic drugs. Continuing below…
10. It is not wrong to take a medication for a physiological problem. Christians need to be viewing problems in living, including their physiological effects, biblically. We need to apply discernment to our use of medications.
11. The “mental health” field takes a medical-metaphor approach to non-medical problems. (Note the very label, mental “health.”) That is why they they speak in terms of “healing from emotional trauma” and avoid words describing sins and repentance. If “mental health professionals” believe that emotional problems are based in chemical imbalances, then it is only natural that their solutions require drugs.
12. There is no proof of a chemical cure to non-medical emotional problems (like depression or anxiety not attributable to a disease). A medically induced change does not mean there was imbalance at the start. Marijuana makes people feel better, but that does not prove there was a chemical imbalance in the first place. Energy drinks cause heightened alertness and energy; that doesn’t mean the energy level when off the drink is what is abnormal.
13. Psychotropic drugs are known to have some physiological effect and it is known that a body can adapt and become dependent upon a drug. This is why depression-like symptoms can return when the drug is quickly terminated, and then the person mistakenly concludes that she really needs the drug. This is also why it is unwise for a person to take herself off of psychotropic drugs without medical supervision.
14. Psychotropic drugs can elevate pleasant feelings so that a person feels better. This feeling can deceive a person into thinking that her problem was physical when it was really spiritual. If she feels better, she is less motivated to work on real change.
15. Medication doesn’t get you off the hook. Blaming “chemical imbalance” provides only short-term relief. If you take it, you are still responsible to face your problems and make changes.
16. Medication has neither the power nor wisdom to solve spiritual problems. It may chemically restrain the body, but the spiritual desires that generate the problems remain.
17. Scripture teaches that the real causes of problems in living (emotional, mental, behavioral, and relational) are the heart desires and the thoughts of the mind. The origin is the heart-mind (immaterial man), not the brain (material man). These are spiritual issues. They may cause physiological responses but are not generated by physiology. The brain is not the same as the mind.
18. Dealing with one’s own misunderstandings or sin is difficult, especially when being sinned against. But in any case, correcting the heart problem will correct the root cause of the emotional, mental, and behavioral symptoms. There is hope for joyful living, and that hope is found in Christ. Repentance and confession results in forgiveness and salvation. Then we get to know the Lord Jesus, learn His will in the Word of God, and obey by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is the path to godliness and abundant life.
19. Change is not easy. It will require facing pride that we don’t want to think we have. It will require turning from selfishness. It will require work at resisting temptation, at putting off old ways of dealing with problems and putting on God’s ways.
20. Relief is not the primary goal for Christian change. The goal is bringing glory to God. Heart change will likely improve feelings. However, it may also make life harder, especially if others do not like the change and become more difficult to live with. The Christian woman will want to change her heart for God’s glory, even if she gains no relief from physical or emotional discomforts. She will say, “If I have to feel down-hearted then so be it. Rather than focus on feelings, I will set my heart to obey God no matter what my feelings tell me.” Then, even if she does not feel better, she will glorify God, and so she will achieve the ultimate goal. What a cause for rejoicing!
If you are struggling with unpleasant or out-of-control emotions, you are suffering much discomfort. It may complicate your life and your relationships to a degree you deem unbearable. You may grieve over your trials. Your best hope of permanent relief is to find the real cause and solution.
If you are trying to help someone who is taking psychotropic drugs, don’t focus on the drugs. The heart is the important issue. Show her how to have peace with God and how to obey the Lord and actively love others.
Nothing in this post is intended to be medical advice. Use or termination of the use of a psychotropic drug can be dangerous, so it should be done only under medical supervision.
For your own research:
Listing these links does not imply that I endorse any other opinions on these websites.
Stuart A, Kirk & Herb Kutchins, The Myth of the Reliability of the DSM
The difference between a medical diagnosis and a psychiatric diagnosis
David Kaiser, MD. Commentary: Against Biologic Psychiatry