Faith and Mental Health: Is Prayer Enough?

CLS bloggers weigh in on two very important topics – faith and mental health.

As women, we have to face various challenges and pressures.  Expectations to be the best mom, wife, and employee can have a major impact on our mental health.

I have thought about asking my doctor for an antidepressant to help me with some of the depression and anxiety issues that I notice are showing up more and more these days. But my close family are against taking antidepressants and advise me to rely on my faith. I try to pray and hope things get better but it just doesn’t work. What should I do?

Tamara’s perspective:
As a licensed therapist, I am all for medications. If you had an issue with your heart, you would see a cardiologist and no one would second guess the diagnosis or treatment.

God created therapists and psychiatrists. See one if you need to. Take the medications if needed. Low-level anxiety and depression can happen to anyone due to situations we endure. Sometimes you need meds to balance the chemicals in your brain. You can’t pray away depression. At all. And I’m Christian and believe in God. But I’m also a therapist that advocates for therapy.

Lisa’s perspective:
I notice some cultures do not believe in taking depression medicine or even seeking counseling, but sometimes it may help. Some people have different coping skills than others. One person may go through a traumatic experience and deal with it successfully through prayer and faith. Another person may go through that same traumatic experience and become suicidal. So, you cannot gauge your mental state based on your family’s opinions. You have to take care of you the best way YOU know how. I have a friend that takes antidepressants and it really helps, and I can tell when she has not taken her medication because she becomes sad and full of anxiety. However, antidepressants may not do the same for you. I don’t see anything wrong with giving the medication a trial run to see how it makes you feel. I would advise you to start a journal and document your behavior on the medication so you can evaluate your experience.

Also, I want to elaborate on your statement,”I try to pray and hope things get better but it just doesn’t work.” Please believe that prayer works and don’t stop praying!! Don’t give up!… Trust me, I have been at some low points in my life and I only got out of it through prayer and my faith!!! It may seem like it is not working now, but God has a plan for you and your life!! You will come out of this and it will not be because of antidepressants. Antidepressants will help you cope, but the deeper root will permanently heal through prayer!!  

Hilda’s perspective:

I have come to realize that the advice people give (often without intentional harm) correlates to their own perception of who they are in relationship to the world, as a whole.

The reality is that it is easier to take the easy way out by making a pray about it statement or face life’s challenges with that perspective. It takes more effort to face issues and challenges through active implementation of behavioral strategies and realistic processes to facilitate change.

Bottom line, the “pray about it” strategy is a cop out. It’s the easy way out. While I am a firm believer of prayer and manifestation of the desire of one’s heart, I also know that true change occurs when you make a decision to:

  1. Make a decision to change your current situation.
  2. Take consistent action to walk in that direction. Small steps are better than no steps at all.
  3. Keep your heart open and receptive to positive changes to come. Believe that what is best for you, will manifest. There is the faith part. 

One of the best ways to determine what is best for an individual with any particular health issue is to learn more about it.  Visit mentalhealth.gov to learn more about mental health issues and how to get the support needed to overcome various mental health challenges. And remember, you are not alone.

~The Caramel Lattes and Stilletos Team

 

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