The following is an edited transcript of the audio.
What's your take on Christians using antidepressants?
In the end I'm going to say that there are times when I think it is appropriate, but I want to go there cautiously and slowly, with warnings.
Depression is a very complex thing. It's got many layers. I think we all would agree that there are conditions in which nobody would deny that certain people are depressed in a pathological way, because they're immobile. They're not even able to function.
And then there's a continuum of discouragements and wrestlings with having an Eeyore-type personality, which may or many not be depressed.
So that means that I want to be so careful not to have a knee-jerk reaction. When you come into my office and describe to me your discouragements, I don't want my first response to be, "See a doctor and get a prescription."
I fear that is way too quick today. The number of people on antidepressants as a first course rather than a last course is large.
And the assumption is that you can't make any progress in counseling unless you get yourself stabilized or something.
So I just want to be very cautious.
As a Christian who believes that Christ is given by the Holy Spirit to deliver us from discouragements and from unbelief and from sorrow and to help us live a life of usefulness, what makes me able to allow for antidepressants is the fact that medicine corresponds to physical realities.
And the physical realities are that we get headaches that make us almost unable to think. Migraine headaches can put a man out. And we are pretty much OK if the doctor can help us find some medicine that would not let us get these immobilizing headaches.
And the headaches clearly have a spiritual impact, because they're making me unable to read my Bible and function in relation to people that I want to love and serve. And so medicine becomes spiritually effective in that way.
So we apply this principle that we all use to depression, and then the fact that the body is included in depression. Whether we should use the terms "chemical imbalances"-I've read both sides on that. Some people say that there is no scientific evidence for such a thing and others say that it is a given. Whatever. Everybody knows that there are physical dimensions to depression.
If that physical dimension could be helped by medicine-in the short run especially, sometimes long term-then I think, in God's grace and mercy, we should take it as a gift from his hand.
Copyright 2009 John Piper. Website: desiringGod.org