Spiritual Causes of Anxiety and Depression


As a pharmacist – I am very keenly aware that millions of people are taking prescriptions to help with depression, anxiety, and a wide range of emotional and mental disorders.  These disorders can be very life-altering and make living a productive life difficult.  Sometimes people can be completely paralyzed by these conditions and I am SO thankful that we have medications that can help many people have a much better quality of life.  I do want to be sure people who are taking anti-depresants and anti-psychotics are aware that these drugs MUST be taken daily.  If a patient misses even one or two days of some of these medications, they can have “rebound depression,” major stomach problems, severe headaches and even suicidal thoughts.  So please do not EVER stop taking these drugs suddenly or without your doctor’s help.

SOME CAUSES OF DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY:

Some people inherit a predisposition to mental disorders and conditions.  Many of these things run in families.  But there is also the fact that children grow up around adults with these kinds of problems so they also learn to react to life in similar ways to the parents who raised them.

There is situational depression or anxiety – the death of a loved one, a major disagreement with a friend, the loss of a job, a very stressful situation, a natural disaster, tragedies and the like can cause depression and anxiety in anyone.

People who suffered sexual, physical and verbal abuse can have depression, anxiety and a wide variety of other mental and emotional illnesses as they try to deal with the trauma they endured.

Children of divorce – even when they are adults – may suffer from depression and anxiety years later.

People who have PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)

Sleep deprivation, illness, exhaustion, etc can cause great emotional and mental stress.

Brain chemistry problems, low blood sugar, illicit drug use, alcohol abuse, low oxygen levels (altitude sickness), estrogen level changes (pregnancy, postpartum, PMS, menopause) and neurological issues.

Side effects of some medications.

Disobedience to God’s Word, sin, idolatry, trying to control things that only other people or God can control, living in fear instead of faith, or not having God’s Spirit will invariably cause depression, guilt, shame and anxiety.

WE SEPARATE THINGS TOO MUCH IN WESTERN MEDICINE SOMETIMES

In medicine today, we tend to separate organs and body systems and even emotions and the soul from the brain and body in the way we think about things.  But the truth is, our body/mind/soul is all connected.

If I think an anxious thought in my mind – my body reacts by producing adrenaline and cortisol (stress hormones).  If I am constantly thinking anxious, worried and fearful thoughts, I bathe my entire body in these chemicals that affect my immune system, causes insomnia, heart palpitations, high blood pressure, a higher heart rate, stomach ulcers, heart attacks, increased sensitivity to pain, increased body fat accumulation around the belly (which increases the risk of diabetes), migraines, lower levels of serotonin (the happiness neurotransmitter) irritability and a lot of other medical problems.  Our bodies are designed to live by faith.  Even if our faith isn’t in Jesus – our bodies are designed to be healthier when we live in faith instead of fear and worry.

If I think about things I am thankful for and good things in my mind - I am blessed.  My body reacts by NOT producing stress hormones.  My immune system is boosted.  I DON’T tend to get all those maladies that are caused by stress hormones.  My neurotransmitters in my brain increase serotonin (making me feel happier), I sleep better, and I am overall much healthier and happier.

God designed our bodies to be blessed when we live by faith and to be cursed (His blessings are withdrawn) when we don’t trust Him.

DRUGS CAN’T COVER UP THE CONSEQUENCES OF SIN OR SPIRITUAL SEPARATION FROM GOD

I am going to now focus solely on spiritual causes of depression and anxiety.  This section does not cover all forms of depression and anxiety, but I think we often gloss over spiritual causes of these conditions to our detriment.  Here I am only talking about depression, shame, guilt and anxiety associated with disobedience to God’s Word and sin.  There are many forms of mental illness that do not fall under this category.  I am not attempting to diagnose or treat anyone with a medical condition.  If you are suffering from emotional or mental problems that are affecting your ability to function and get along with others – please see your doctor!   If you are taking medications for an emotional/mental problem – PLEASE do NOT stop taking your medication without consulting with your doctor!

I pray that you might examine your own spirit and soul by the light of God’s Word and see if it’s possible you may have grieved God’s Spirit.  If you have, then it will take repentance to God to have His Spirit and the fruit of His Spirit restored to you – love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control.

Sometimes we take anti-depressants or anti-anxiety drugs because we are living in sin and we are filled with guilt, shame or anxiety because of that sin.  We think that if we take medication, we can escape the consequences of our sin or rebellion against God. Maybe we refuse to forgive someone. Maybe there is a feud going on in the family and there is constant conflict and drama.   And we have allowed a HUGE root of bitterness to spring up in our hearts – giving Satan a stronghold in our souls.  Maybe we live with constant resentment and anger – possibly for many years.  Maybe we are living in an immoral situation and we are racked with guilt and anxiety because we are afraid God will find out, or our parents will find out, or our spouse might find out.  If I am living in sin, there is no medication that will alleviate my anxiety and depression and restore God’s peace to me.  I will suffer the consequences of broken fellowship with God because of my sin – so I won’t have His power available in my life.  God will not allow me to enjoy His sweet presence and fellowship and the gift of His Spirit if I am clinging to sin.   I will also suffer the lack of spiritual fellowship with my husband/family/friends because of my sin against God. And I will suffer emotionally with anxiety and depression because I am cherishing sin in my heart.  I may suffer physical consequences like unwanted pregnancy or STDs if I sin against my body and against God  by committing sexual immorality. Maybe I have an addiction to a drug/alcohol/behavior and I am filled with anxiety because I am idolizing that thing and idols cannot  satisfy – only fellowship with God can bring true contentment, peace, joy, hope, satisfaction and abundant life.

If I am living in sin – there is no anti-depressant or anti-anxiety drug that can erase the God-given consequences of my sin.  No prescription can take away my guilt.  No drug can remove my shame.  Only the blood of Jesus can wash away the stain of my guilt.  And to have that kind of clean heart, I have to turn away from my sinful life and walk to Christ – abandoning my sin, and embracing Him and His will for me.  I have to give up control over my life and give that to Christ.  I have to trust Him to make me right with God and realize that I can’t earn the right to be in a right relationship with God.

  •  All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  Romans 3:23.
  • The wages (paycheck) of sin is death, but the GIFT of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 6:23
  • For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.  And by Him we cry, “Abba, Daddy.”  The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.  Now if we are children, then we are heirs- heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.  Romans 8:12-17
  • For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.  Ephesians 2:8-9

GOD’S PRESCRIPTION FOR JOY

Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again, Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all, the Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally brothers, whatever is TRUE, whatever is NOBLE, whatever is RIGHT, whatever is PURE, whatever is LOVELY, whatever is ADMIRABLE – if anything is EXCELLENT or PRAISEWORTHY  – think about such things.  Philippians 4:4-8

Now, your assignment is – think about these verses from Philippians 4.  And think about your marriage with those verses  – and your husband.

Please ask God to show you the good in your husband and THINK ON THOSE THINGS.

My husband’s strengths and qualities that are:

TRUE

NOBLE

RIGHT

PURE

LOVELY

ADMIRABLE

EXCELLENT

PRAISEWORTHY

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15 Comments on “Spiritual Causes of Anxiety and Depression”

  1. Elizabeth@Warrior Wives
    August 20, 2012 at 5:52 pm #

    I agree with you on this one. I ended up with postpartum depression after the birth of my third child (but not with the other two) and it’s been hard to explain to my mother in law (and a few others). I honestly wouldn’t have said that depression was a real thing prior to “getting it”, so I’m really glad I did. It’s actually helped me to see what you’re pointing out here…that there are multiple causes for depression. And honestly, no matter what kind of depression you have, you can never really just deal with it with medication (if that’s what you choose to do…I did). You HAVE to address spiritual issues as well.

    • peacefulwife
      August 20, 2012 at 6:21 pm #

      Elizabeth,
      I have had depression myself from multiple causes at various times and it is AWFUL! I am very glad we have medication – sometimes it is extremely helpful. But most of all I am so thankful for God’s Word and His Spirit!

  2. christianmomatwork
    November 3, 2012 at 10:51 am #

    Thank you so much for this post. I am a Christian and have been bhaving issues with my blood pressure. My Dr. Feels that I am having issues with anxiety due to my job loss and financial burdens. He wants to treat the anxiety rather than the blood pressure, and I tend to agree that he is on the right track. But he wants me to take an anti-depressant/anxiety drug. I feel, as a Christian, that I should be relying on the Holy Spirit to make this change in me. I feel guilty about taking the medication, but also feel I need to break the cycle. I am concerned about side-effects. Ironically, these thoughts all make me more anxious! I appreciate your thoughts on medication and feel somewhat better about this type of treatment. I know this will not replace my need for prayer and Bible study, as well as my reliance on Him, but I wonder if I will be able to immerse myself more fully in Him once I deal with the anxiety.

    • peacefulwife
      November 3, 2012 at 11:11 am #

      What does your husband think? :)

      Sent from my iPhone

      • christianmomatwork
        November 3, 2012 at 11:19 am #

        My husband is very comfortable with me taking the medication, and I desire to submit to him. I searched for this topic within your posts for this reason. :)

        • peacefulwife
          November 3, 2012 at 11:40 am #

          There can be times the meds can help a lot. Be aware that the anti-depressants take about 1 month to start working. First, there are side effects like stomach upset, headaches, sleep changes, difficulty achieving orgasm, increased anxiety (for a few weeks) and possibly suicidal thoughts. Once the rx kicks in, most of the side effects subside. But if you skip a day or two, the side effects happen again and rebound depression and suicidal thoughts can happen again. These drugs have to be taken daily and not suddenly stopped. Sometimes taking them for 3-6 months can be very helpful in a difficult situation and definitely focus on God, prayer and learning. I would not use them to try to avoid consequences of sin. I am glad you know what your husband thinks and are cooperating with him. Praying for God’s provision for you, for you to be able to trust Him and find His peace and for wisdom for you and your husband! It is great to meet you! Let me know if you have any questions!

          Sent from my iPhone

        • peacefulwife
          November 3, 2012 at 12:17 pm #

          Please keep me posted on how you are doing! Let me know how I might pray for you!

          Sent from my iPad

  3. christianmomatwork
    November 3, 2012 at 12:21 pm #

    I will! Thank you for the information, and especially for the prayers! :)

  4. Mich
    July 20, 2014 at 9:28 am #

    Hi April. I know you wrote this sometime ago and I want to say it’s still a critical post. Thankfully as a pharmacist you can address, in a more balanced way than many, the benefit of medicines to treat some depressions. I wonder though is there really a clear divide between spiritual and non spiritual causes?

    Sexual abuse, generational dispositions to depression, traumas, emotional and mental stresses and more can all be brought to the foot of the cross. All of the above have been true in my case and only God can bring me through the battlefield and tend my scars. It’s been important to seek Him, and know his goodness, experience his peace and trust in his justice. So I just question the spiritual / non-spiritual divide. Some people have actually become more fully alive for God as a result of illness, loss or trauma – even in the midst of their depression where it exists.

    Among my Christian women colleagues and church sisters (married, divorced and single alike) many talk about their depression. Or their marriage / relationship to someone else who is depressed. I hear yearnings and expectations around marriage, kids, involved partners / husbands, parents, work and friends. Yet I also struggle to find sisters who want to come together as a community around God’s word – and I wonder what they know about their options in the context of really knowing our Lord and our God. So I’m looking, for example, to facilitate a local Respect Dare group. I know this is a fallen world, but there’s lots of choices we can make that would serious kick certain depressions into touch. Some of the authors you have recommended – which I’ve read too – address those choices around boundaries, sacred life, respect, expectations etc.

    Thanks for this post as ever.

    Mich.

    • peacefulwife
      July 21, 2014 at 8:04 am #

      Mich,
      You are most welcome! We don’t seem to talk about this in church – or, I haven’t seen it talked about!
      What an important topic! Spiritual and physical issues are extremely interrelated. It can be difficult to separate the two. There can be times when things are purely one or the other. But I don’t know that I have the wisdom to discern that.

      Thankfully, our God is able to heal our scars and wounds and He is able to give us new hearts and minds and free us from our past. WOOHOO!

      Praying for healing for all of our sisters in Christ (and brothers). Thank you for shining for Him! I am excited about what He is calling you to do to bless other women! :)

  5. coinfishmedia
    October 5, 2014 at 10:25 am #

    This article is spot on. From personal experience, I can say with confidence that Jesus Christ still heals. It’s for this very reason I started a blog of my own to share the steps needed to open ourselves to His healing grace; and to accept with gratefulness whatever kind of healing He desires to give us. God bless you and Praise God for using you in this way as a service to others.

    • Peacefulwife
      October 5, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

      Coinfishmedia,
      I am so excited about what God has done in your life! Thank you very much for sharing!

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