For those who insist that depression is a spiritual condition properly dealt with only by turning to the Word of God, this study reported in the Guardian should be sobering reading.
I'm not sure the precise role drugs should play in battling psychological maladies--certainly, we live in an over-drugged age--but I wonder if Christian counsellors who insist that every psychological malady finds its roots in neglect of the Word of God will one day wake up to a world where the physical causes of many "psychological" diseases are as evident and clear as most non-psychological illnesses.
When a Christian counsellor tells me that he won't accept psychological diagnoses that cannot be grounded in empirically-proven biological conditions, I'm generally sympathetic--until I remember that similar logic 150 years ago would have led to every epileptic being treated with Biblical counseling. I suspect that if the physical mechanism of epilepsy had not been discovered in the late 1800s and the EEG as a diagnostic tool developed in the early 1900s, epilepsy would be viewed by Biblical counselors today as a spiritual condition similar to depression.
I do not deny Satanic and demonic agency in the world today. But to characterize psychological diseases as uniquely linked to sin seems contrary to Scripture--where we see a vast variety of afflictions linked to sin and/or demonic oppression, not merely psychological afflictions.
And, let me add, I am increasingly unable to understand the reasoning behind the demand by many Biblical counsellors that their patients be weaned of all psychotropic medication if they are to be treated Biblically.
The reason often given for such weaning is that Christians should not use psychopharmacology because it doesn't cure the root condition. But does that mean we should reject palliative medication across the board? No aspirin for headaches, no morphine for cancer victims, no cough medicine for colds, no anti-seizure medication for epilepsy for instance? Total cures or nothing?
Are we opposed to all palliative medication, or only those that deal with afflictions of the mind? If epilepsy can be the product of demonic activity (see the boy of Mark 9:14-29), leprosy the product of God's wrath on sin (see Miriam in Numbers 12:10 and Uzziah in 2 Chronicles 26:19), and AIDS the result of sexual sin, aren't we just as wrong in covering up the demonic/sinful etiology of these diseases by palliative medication as we are in giving Prozac to the clinically depressed?
These are questions that occur to me. I don't know many of the answers, and I'm equally sure that 99 out of 100 times, Biblical counseling is the right way to go for those facing behavioral problems. But when I read an article like the one linked to above I realize the need for humility in our approach to matters like clinical depression.