Jump directly to the content

Should Christians Take Antidepressants?


Nov 28 2011
Medication can help, but it can also hinder our reliance on Christ.

This month, the pharmacy services company Medco reported that in 2010, one in five American adults took a mental health prescription drug, a 22 percent increase since 2001. Antidepressant use by men is on the rise, but women still take more antidepressants than men, with 21 percent of women taking at least one antidepressant in 2010. I was one of those women.

When my twins were born four years ago, it didn't take long for us to realize I was struggling. Post-partum depression hits many women during the first year after childbirth. With the natural hormone swings after giving birth, it can be difficult to tell if a new mother is trying to adjust to new demands and sleep schedules or is clinically depressed. When my mother found me crying while running a bath for our oldest boy, it became obvious that I was struggling with the latter.

All it took was a quick visit to the ob-gyn. I remember being grateful I didn't have to work out psychiatrist appointments or introduce a new doctor to the problems. Instead, the ob-gyn wrote the prescription as we talked. It was so easy.

Getting off the drugs proved to be a bit more difficult. Each year I went to my check-up, determined that I would get a plan to step down. Each year, the doctor encouraged me to stay on the meds. Each year he said, "It's a really benign drug, there are no side effects. It helps take the edge off."

He wasn't quite accurate. Zoloft's website lists plenty of physical and psychological side effects. Besides the warnings, Zoloft was also made to treat a range of personality and depressive disorders, but post-partum depression is not on the list.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most common antidepressants prescribed today. They work on the theory that depression is caused by the absorption of serotonin in the cells of the brain, leaving the synapses free of the needed chemical. The SSRI keeps serotonin from being reabsorbed, and the increase of that chemical in the body causes the mood to lift.

The use of antidepressants is not without controversy in the Christian community and beyond. Our knowledge of the brain has grown significantly in the past 20 years, but we still have a lot to learn. The theory on which these medicines are based could be completely misguided, and because the earliest SSRI, Paxil, is only 23 years old, we can't be completely sure of its long-term effects. Add to this the fact that primary care physicians—not licensed psychiatrists—are the main prescribers of these medicines, and the case against them gets stronger.

Related Topics:Depression; Parenting
Support our work. Subscribe to CT and get one year free.

Comments

To add a comment you need to be a registered user or Christianity Today subscriber.

orSubscribeor
More from Her.menutics
Q+A: Why Letting the Dishes Go Can Save Your Soul

Q+A: Why Letting the Dishes Go Can Save Your Soul

In her latest book, Shauna Niequist trades “competition, comparison, and exhaustion for meaning, connection, and unconditional love."
After Childhood Abuse, How Can I Trust Others with My Kids?

After Childhood Abuse, How Can I Trust Others with My Kids?

I equip my daughters to protect themselves and their bodies in ways I didn’t learn to.
Too Many Transitions Can Traumatize Our Kids

Too Many Transitions Can Traumatize Our Kids

I know from experience what happens when children face moving, divorce, or other stressful life change—and how we can help them.
The 5 Truths Stay-at-Home and Working Moms Can Agree On

The 5 Truths Stay-at-Home and Working Moms Can Agree On

After interviewing 120 women, I saw glimmers of a truce in the Mommy Wars.
Include results from Christianity Today
Browse Archives:

So Hot Right Now

The Truth About Living with an Invisible Illness

God sees me and my pain even when others cannot.

Follow Us

Twitter

  • Shauna Niequist opens up about 201cthe most rewarding change201d of her adult life https://t.co/sXsy7n5Sjb
  • Mmm... @Rachel_M_Stone takes us back with some church snack memories d83cdf6a https://t.co/P4cabltG2w
  • If you like your movies wonky, feminist, and a little preachy, Equity proves a compelling choice @alissamarie https://t.co/BZCN8fi2OE
  • RT @Jenpmichel: "Faith grows with strain and tension, even from the furnace of our own heart2019s fear." https://t.co/RENugj0bHR
  • @Jenna_DeWitt @sniequist Thanks for reading and sharing, Jenna! d83ddc95


What We're Reading

CT eBooks and Bible Studies

Christianity Today
Should Christians Take Antidepressants?