Having grown up in the church, it has been my experience that Christians and their leaders are afraid of psychiatry. They are also afraid of psychiatric treatment so as a result, are very reluctant to get medical help for mental health problems. Many Christians are then suffering needlessly from treatable conditions.
It’s easy to understand how this fear began. Sigmund Freud, who has been considered the father of psychiatry was openly critical of religion. He even blamed some disorders on religious beliefs. Of course the Christian community was outraged and offended at these accusations. They immediately became skeptical that there was any value in psychiatric treatment and it was likely unwise for a Christian to be exposed to it.
Psychiatric treatment became negatively stigmatized and Christians felt that to see a psychiatrist would be considered a demonstration of hopelessness and lack of faith. To this day, patients of mine have been actively discouraged by Christian friends from coming to see me. Even though I’m a Christian, my reputation has been tainted by providing psychiatric treatment.
Here’s the good news!
Freud’s opinions have been largely abandoned by modern psychiatry. This medical specialty is now focused primarily on the medication treatment of brain chemical imbalances. Psychiatry is now not much different from Internal Medicine. There is far more prescribing of medications than there is psychotherapy. Religion is no longer blamed for anything and patients are often encouraged to strengthen their spirituality.
There is no longer any reason to fear psychiatrists or psychiatric treatment. If you are helping someone struggling with a mood disorder like depression, encourage them to see a doctor to begin treatment.
I have created books, seminars and recordings that will easily explain the diagnosis and treatment of mood disorders from a Christian perspective. You can see links to many of my resources here.
Leadership Q & A
- What is the best church growth strategy?
- Are you burning out?
- Is suicide the unpardonable sin?
- Can a person be too supportive of your ministry?
- Are you afraid of psychiatry?
- What is the unpardonable sin?
- Is fear a sin?
- Is counselling your gift?
- What is the key question to ask?
- Does depression have spiritual symptoms?
- Is your church “seeker friendly?”