Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Why is there such a debate about medications for mental illness?

My Medications
As you probably know; the writer of this blog is an evangelical Christian. I have walked with the Lord for forty years.  When I was twenty nine years old, I had to go on medications for a full body disease called Bipolar 2 disorder. I am on four medications for my disorder. I am on Zoloft 200 mgs for depression and OCD. I am on 350 mgs of fluvoxamine for depression and OCD. I am on 60 mgs of Buspar, which is a non-addictive anti-anxiety drug; and I am on 1100 mgs. of Seroquel which is an atypical anti-psychotic which is used in my case for bipolar II disorder. Seroquel is also is effective in preventing a severe relapse of endogenous (biological) depression.
I also am on a medication for high blood pressure, a medication for cholesterol and a medication for type 2 diabetes. If you asked me how I feel, I would rightly say, fantastic! None of the medications  mentioned above are addictive, they all serve a purpose and I unashamedly take them.
Much Ado about nothing
What I don't understand is why is there so such  debate among Christians concerning whether believers should take the pills I mention in the first paragraph of this blog?

You may have heard of the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors (NANC).   Historically thy have been quite opposed to medications. I know that they have received a lot of flack on the subject, which is as it should be. Many a mentally ill person have lost their way because of their unbiblical counsel.
 As of late I have noticed that those who believe that bipolar disorder and depression are not mainly biological(NANC included), grudgingly acknowledge that there may be a place for medications. There are many reasons for this attitude but space does not allow me  to put them here. You can read much more about these issues in our book, Broken Minds Hope for Healing When You Feel Like You're Losing It. Please scroll down to the link below which is below the picture of our book.

These nothing buttery approach counselors are not being so dogmatic in regard to telling people to go off their medications. However when you really look at their beliefs they are opposed to medications for depression, bipolar etc. For instance, this is posted on a NANC  site:

What is your view on medication?
We are not opposed to medication, but we have found that it has been over-prescribed in many cases. We prefer to begin addressing issues of the heart with people, even if there may be a need for medication. We often discover that when heart issues are addressed biblically, the need for medication significantly lessens or vanishes altogether. We counsel people who are currently on medication, and also people who are not on medication.
 They and many others still discuss the need to be careful about medications.  These same people will take an asprin or flu medicine at the blink of an eye. 
Having said that, I am posting an article from the DBSA (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance) which is a non-evangelical agency for helping people understand medications taken for mental illness. I hope you find this information helpful.

Rev. Steve Bloem

Here is the DBSA material on medications.

Medications for Depression and Bipolar Disorder
Your health care provider (HCP) might prescribe one or more medications to treat your symptoms. These may include:
  • Mood stabilizers
    these medications help even out your highs and lows. Some mood stabilizer medications are called anticonvulsants, because they are also used to treat epilepsy.

  • Antidepressants
    these medications help lift the symptoms of depression. There are several different classes and types of antidepressants.

  • Anti-psychotics
    these medications are primarily used to treat symptoms of mania. Even if you are not hallucinating or having delusions, these medications can help slow racing thoughts to a manageable speed.

It may take some time for you and your doctor to find the right medication(s) for you. It can also take several weeks for your medication to be totally effective. You may feel some of the side effects of your medication before you feel the benefits—that doesn't mean the medication doesn't work.

Do not stop taking your medication, change your dosage, or add any kind of medication without first speaking with your doctor.

Questions to Ask your doctor about Your medication or treatment

  • How does this treatment work in my brain? What chemicals or processes does it work on?
  • When will I start to feel some improvement? What symptoms should this treatment relieve?
  • What might the side effects of my treatment be? How can I cope with them?
  • What are the risks associated with my treatment?
  • How can I recognize problems if they happen?
  • Is there anything I can do to make this treatment more effective?
  • Is this the usual treatment for my illness? If not, how did you choose it?
  • What is our next step if this treatment is not effective?
  • How will this treatment affect the treatments I'm receiving for other illnesses?

Medication Side Effects

Sometimes it is hard to tell if something (such as sleepiness, anxiety, or headache) is a side effect or a symptom of your illness. Many side effects will go away as your body gets used to the medication. Keep track of your side effects and talk about them with your doctor. He or she may prescribe an additional medication, adjust your dosage or change your medication.

For a link to this article which has more helpful tips about you, your medication and your doctor, please go to:

CAMI (Christians Afflicted with Mental Illness) now has on-line support groups for mental illness. Robyn and I have written our own material. People are saying how much they have been helped. If you are having a problem with the stigma of mental illness in your church, you can be a part of this group in the privacy of your own home. You can call us at 616.447.0775 or visit our contact us link on our web site.!contact/cito

We have written a book called Broken Minds Hope for Healing When You Feel like You're Losing It. For more information on this book including reviews, please go to:


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