Depression and anxiety tend to be some of those touchy subjects that are tough to tackle from a Christian perspective.
It’s not complicated just because the illnesses themselves are so complex, manifesting themselves in myriad ways, but also because perspectives about mental disorders vary greatly throughout the Church. Incorrect beliefs about mental illness are pervasive throughout our culture.
Of course, there is way more information about anxiety and depression than what can be summed up in one article, so it’s certainly worth doing more research on the subject.
But if we as the Church are going to start talking about these issues, here are a few things we should know: It’s not a character defect, a spiritual disorder or an emotional dysfunction. Asking someone to “try” not being depressed is tantamount to asking someone who’s been shot to try and stop bleeding.
Such an attitude can dangerously appear in the Church as, “if only you had enough faith.” Cue the record scratch for any Christian regarding matters of healing.
Having faith in God’s ability to heal is hugely important, and personal faith can help ease depression.
Yet this doesn’t make the sufferer of depression and anxiety a sinner simply for experiencing the crushing effects of their condition.Churches often don’t address mental illness, which gives the worship team guitarist or the elder even more incentive to keep it hidden away.Furthermore, the symptoms of depression often tend to contradict each other, which makes it really difficult for a person suffering from depression to recognize it for what it is—let alone for the Church to recognize it.Even churches that seek to provide a safe haven for those suffering in their midst might not have a judgment-free place to discuss their struggles.
Programs like Celebrate Recovery can provide an invaluable forum for people to interact with others who experience “hurts, habits, and hangups,” and can help deal with some of the self-medication many people with depression and anxiety use to numb themselves.Brandon William Peach is a writer, social media specialist, and the co-founder of Theologues.