Should Christians Take Medication for Mental Health Issues?

I'm often asked, "Should Christians take medication for mental health issues?" 

I have spoken to a number of people suffering under the crushing weight of fear regarding seeking medical treatment for a season of depression, anxiety, panic, eating disorder or self-harm.

Fear from what, you ask? From the reprimand of loved ones, church members, classmates, professors, colleagues, and even spouses, who would view any medical intervention (if only a routine physical check-up) as defective, cowardly faith.

Is this sort of fear what the biblical counseling movement at-large wants its counselors to convey? The answer, in short, is no.

While individual Christians, churches, and traditions all have their opinions about whether or not a believer ought to attempt to seek treatment for an apparent mental health issue, the authoritative Word does give us specific instruction–as well as Christian liberty (Romans 14)–pertaining to the compassionate spiritual, emotional, and physical care of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Because I am not a doctor, I do not want to offer medical advice in this post. These positions do not mean that I believe medication is needed all of the time, nor do I believe that medication is effective in curing the problems, even the majority of the time. What I do want to share, however, are the answers I give to the question "Should a Christian take medication for their mental health problem?" when asked from the position of being a certified biblical counselor.

And I humbly offer them to you as one who presently takes prescribed medication for managing the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder II, and who is also pursuing her biblical counseling certification with the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. I'd argue the two are not mutually exclusive.
It is a misunderstanding of the essential nature of human beings—with a body and a soul—for Christians to minimize the importance of medical treatment in their care for troubled people
(1 Tim 5:23).
– Association of Certified Biblical Counselors Theses #84
Please take a few minutes to listen to Heath Lambert speak on this issue through the embedded podcast audio below. For additional information and resources about biblical counseling & medicine, please refer to my digital download Walking Through the Darkness: A Biblical Resource Guide for Depression.

ACBC Theses Pertaining to Medication & Counseling

#33
It is not necessary that the Bible comprehensively address biological issues and medical care to be authoritative and sufficient for counseling conversations.
#81
Christians committed to counseling ministry do not merely engage in “soul care,” but in the care of whole persons made with a body and soul.
#82
It is a misunderstanding of the essential nature of human beings for Christians to view individuals as an exclusively physical substance, and to assume all problems are medical problems.
#83
It is a misunderstanding of the essential nature of human beings—made with a body and a soul—for Christians to present physical interventions as solutions to spiritual problems.
#84
It is a misunderstanding of the essential nature of human beings—with a body and a soul—for Christians to minimize the importance of medical treatment in their care for troubled people (1 Tim 5:23).
#85
Because many counseling problems occur at the intersection of physical and spiritual issues, counselors must exert humility and avoid unduly dogmatic assumptions about the source of some problems in living.
#86
Because life in a fallen world always leads to death, even obvious physical problems should not be treated as fundamentally medical issues, but instead as opportunities for drawing near to God in faith (Phil 1:21-26).
#87
Because the Bible does not include the kind of information necessary to create comprehensive expertise in medical science, counselors should avoid using their counseling conversations to engage in the practice of medicine.
After Darkness, Light: Christians and Counseling in the Twenty-First Century
Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, in October 1517. He was concerned that the Roman Catholic practice of indulgences undermined Scripture and its teaching on grace and genuine repentance. His act would spark a Reformation that witnessed a recovery of the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world.

On the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, Heath Lambert (Author & Executive Director at the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors) has a similar concern for the recovery of the gospel. He fears that after more than a century of the influence of secular therapy, the Christian witness to the grace of Jesus Christ has been diluted in the crucial ministry of counseling.

Luther intended his Theses to spark a debate that the faithful needed to have about how the good news of Jesus Christ related to a critical area of church practice. Lambert's intent is similar in offering these 95 Theses for an Authentically Christian Commitment to Counseling. He believes the church today must have the same kind of debate about grace with respect to counseling that Luther wanted to have in his day with respect to indulgences. And so he offers these theses for the purpose of debate.

But they are also offered with his prayer: that the spirit of the Reformers to recover the emphasis on divine grace in their day would be the commitment that Christians would have today regarding counseling.
Should Christians Take Medications for Mental Health Issues?

Walking Through the Darkness Resource Guide

Biblical resources for depression
"Take comfort in knowing you are not experiencing something abnormal, nor are you condemned because of it."
– Christine M. Chappell
When depression strikes, clarity is hard to come by. It can often be overwhelming to determine what steps to take for treatment and recovery. As Christians, there is often an element of shame or lack of understanding about the issue, and this confusion leaves everyone involved feeling helpless and hopeless for change.

Walking Through the Darkness is a digital download on depression that seeks to provide biblical wisdom, clarity, and hope for sufferers and caregivers alike. The guide is a collection of resources curated by author Christine M. Chappell, who personally lives by faith with a Bipolar II diagnosis, and has battled mental health extremes for almost two decades.