Should I Take Medication? by John Piper

What’s Your Take on Christians Using Antidepressants?

by John Piper

Pastor John Piper

In the end I’m going to say that there are times when I think it is appropriate, but I want to go there cautiously and slowly, with warnings.

Depression is a very complex thing. It’s got many layers. I think we all would agree that there are conditions in which nobody would deny that certain people are depressed in a pathological way, because they’re immobile. They’re not even able to function.

And then there’s a continuum of discouragements and wrestlings with having an ‘Eeyore-type’ personality, which may or many not be depressed.

So that means that I want to be so careful not to have a knee-jerk reaction. When you come into my office and describe to me your discouragements, I don’t want my first response to be, “See a doctor and get a prescription.”

I fear that is way too quick today. The number of people on antidepressants as a first course rather than a last course is large.

And the assumption is that you can’t make any progress in counseling unless you get yourself stabilized or something.

So I just want to be very cautious.

As a Christian who believes that Christ is given by the Holy Spirit to deliver us from discouragements and from unbelief and from sorrow and to help us live a life of usefulness, what makes me able to allow for antidepressants is the fact that medicine corresponds to physical realities.

And the physical realities are that we get headaches that make us almost unable to think. Migraine headaches can put a man out. And we are pretty much OK if the doctor can help us find some medicine that would not let us get these immobilizing headaches.

And the headaches clearly have a spiritual impact, because they’re making me unable to read my Bible and function in relation to people that I want to love and serve. And so medicine becomes spiritually effective in that way.

So we apply this principle that we all use to depression, and then the fact that the body is included in depression. Whether we should use the terms “chemical imbalances”—I’ve read both sides on that. Some people say that there is no scientific evidence for such a thing and others say that it is a given. Whatever. Everybody knows that there are physical dimensions to depression.

If that physical dimension could be helped by medicine—in the short run especially, sometimes long term—then I think, in God’s grace and mercy, we should take it as a gift from his hand.


© Desiring God, desiringGod.org

John Piper is the Pastor for Preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and studied at Wheaton College, where he first sensed God’s call to enter the ministry. He went on to earn degrees from Fuller Theological Seminary (B.D.) and the University of Munich (D.theol.). For six years he taught Biblical Studies at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and in 1980 accepted the call to serve as pastor at Bethlehem. John is the author of more than 30 books and more than 25 years of his preaching and teaching is available free at desiringGod.org. John and his wife, Noel, have four sons, one daughter, and an increasing number of grandchildren.
http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/AskPastorJohn
/ByTopic/81/4233_Whats_your_take_on_Christians_
using_antidepressants/

About Pastor Bryan Lowe

A repentant rascal with definite issues, but who is seeking to be authentic in his faith to Jesus Christ. An avid reader and a hopeful writer. Husband and father. A pastor and Bible teacher. A brain tumor survivor. Diagnosed with clinical depression, epilepsy, and now disabled. Enjoys life, such as it is, in Alaska.
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5 Responses to Should I Take Medication? by John Piper

  1. Mrs Stretch says:

    Do you know that John Piper ascribes to Nouthetic counseling? If you take all of his work as a whole, his teaching harms women and is anti psychology. As a woman. and a broken believer, I am concerned when others hold this man in such high regard — he is a celebrity and has lost his love. Brian, please look at John Piper more thorougly and please reconsider using his writings. Thank you.

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  2. Bryan, I like Piper’s balanced approach here. I agree that antidepressants should not be used as frequently as they are. I also know from my own experience that they do not, by themselves, result in a long term cure for depression. The drug advertisements for antidepressants make it sound like if you just take them everything will then be rosy and happy, but that is seldom the case if they aren’t used in conjunction with prayer and dealing with what may be the underlying cause. It would be sort of like a diabetic taking insulin but continuing to eat a diet that exaserbated the illness, didn’t exercise, and did nothing else that is known to help. Thanks for sharing this. Peace, Linda

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    • I’m pretty comfortable with it as well. Piper seems to have a lot of experience here. He is gentle without even a whiff of legalism and religious purposefulness. No ‘slants’ and no ‘side-steps.’

      Your right on with insulin/diet analogy.

      Have you had any luck making/using Twitter on your blog? When I have used it, it felt like I had two left hands, it didn’t seem fluid or natural. But I wonder if I am missing something? Blessings, Bryan

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      • Bryan, All my posts are set to automatically go out on Twitter, and I have about 11 followers, but I really don’t get Twitter at all. I think my stats have only shown a few times when Twitter was the source of a page view. One of these days I’m going to figure out how it really works. I suspect one must have a mobile device (which I don’t) to make Twitter really useful. Peace, Linda

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