Psychology has become such a part of our society that anyone who stands opposed to it is sometimes branded ignorant and uninformed. Even in the Christian community, those who disregard and question psychology and its counterparts based upon its opposition to Scripture are often considered extremists and sometimes branded us cruel, cold, and unloving.
In a recent letter to us a writer made this comment:
Clinical depression is a real physical condition, which has been medically proven. It is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain due to an improper release of seratonin. I think that articles like yours that claim people are simply not spiritual enough to overcome their depression is cruel when it comes to a real physical ailment. I hope that you will do some research on it, and perhaps update your depression article to include medical clinical depression.
If Clinical depression were a real physical condition it would seem cruel to suggest that their problem was spiritual when it is not. However, that is not the case. The cause of depression has never been scientifically discovered and it has definitely never been scientifically proven that its cause is a chemical imbalance in the brain. When you hear the causes and cures for depression discussed you will notice that every doctor, psychologist, therapist, pharmaceutical company, or any other “expert” in the field will always use vague words such as “may,” or “might”. They never say that the cause is known and the cure is scientifically proven. For their arguments, they say things like “studies show” or “research suggests” but never is it discussed factually. This is because they do not know. Below are a few examples of groups that use vague wording in order to hide the fact that it is not proven.
The National Mental Health Association says that many things contribute to depression. One is Biological. Look at what they say. Note the exact wording.
People with depression typically have too little or too much of certain brain chemicals, called “neurotransmitters.” Changes in these brain chemicals may cause or contribute to clinical depression.
While they say people with depression typically have too little or too much of certain brain chemicals, we have yet to meet anyone who was diagnosed with depression who has ever had their chemicals tested to find out for sure. They go on to say that these chemicals may cause or contribute to depression but they do not state it as a certain fact. They then list other factors that may cause depression and among them are situations and poor thinking patterns. These are not physical but emotional problems.
Paxil, one of the leading anti-depressant drugs on the market, says this on their website:
The exact cause of these conditions is not completely understood. Research has shown that depression and anxiety disorders could be linked to a chemical imbalance in the brain.
When a person suffers from depression or anxiety disorders, there could be a problem with the serotonin balance and its effect on cell-to-cell communication.
A quick search at Wikipedia reveals the same truth.
Clinical depression is a health condition of depression with mental and physical components reaching criteria generally accepted by clinicians… No specific cause for depression has been identified, but there are a number of factors believed to be involved.
Physiology There may be changes or imbalances in chemicals which transmit information in the brain, called neurotransmitters. Many modern antidepressant drugs attempt to increase levels of certain neurotransmitters, like serotonin. While the causal relationship is unclear, it is known that antidepressant medications do relieve certain symptoms of depression- although critics point out that the relationship between serotonin, SSRIs, and depression is usually greatly oversimplified when presented to the public
Two professors of Psychiatry at UCLA wrote an article for Nature Review and they state clearly that we know little about depression:
Depression is a major cause of disability worldwide, but we know little about the underlying fundamental biology. Research is hindered by the difficulties of modelling a disorder of higher cognitive functions in animals. Depression can be understood as the interaction of genetic susceptibility and environmental factors; however, current classifications are purely descriptive.2
That is the key. The diagnosis of depression does not come from any biological testing but rather from the patient’s description of their symptoms. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (DSM) is what doctors use to diagnose people with depression. However, the classifications in it are solely based upon symptoms and are simply the overall consensus of most psychologists. Not every psychologist or doctor will agree with the assessments within it. However, this is the standard that is used. Its primary purpose is not to treat patients but to allow the physician to bill insurance companies for the treatment. Without a DSM label, the insurance company will not pay for treatment.
Wikipedia again confirms this:
Some psychologists have stated that they use DSM primarily for completing forms for the government or insurance companies, some of which require a patient to be classified by a diagnosis
Mental Illnesses (as the world calls them) are based not upon scientific data with provable and testable genetic information, but rather they are based upon their symptoms. For one to be diagnosed as “clinically depressed” he must simply have the symptoms. They are offered treatment and often medication not based upon any physical testing but rather on assumptions.
This fact is not well known to the general public. When a doctor tells a patient they have clinical depression, they believe this to mean that it is a scientifically proven disease. Why else would it be called “clinical?” This, however, is not the case. There is nothing clinical about it. The patient is being fed the lie that man is not responsible for his actions and emotions. Since psychological theories ignore any mention of God, they do not take into account possible spiritual issues that can cause depression. This should not be surprising to the Christian community but unfortunately it often is. Many Christians have bought into the lie that psychology is a science. Psychology, however, is a field that studies behavior and emotions and those are not tangible entities that can be studied with science.
The Bible has the answers to our behavioral and emotional problems. They are addressed emphatically and thoroughly, yet many Christians now believe those passages are not relevant to them because their anxiety or depression is “clinical.” The Bible makes no such distinction, only man does. What I do not understand is why Christians will simply believe their doctor because he wears a white coat and has a degree. If his diagnosis contradicts Scripture, why are we so quick to dismiss the Bible and believe some man?
Christians who believe in psychology and the labels the medical community has described as ‘mental health’ need to do their own research. There are tons of resources that show the fallacies of the medical community in this regard and more importantly point us to a cure that has been proven. God’s Word has all the answers for our emotional and behavioral problems. Let us look to Him to find the solutions that He offers.
When a person is physically sick they will need a doctor, but when a person is spiritually sick, they need Jesus. There are times when a person with a true medical illness that can be tested and proven scientifically will have symptoms of depression that are caused by that illness. The difference from that and what the world terms “clinical depression” is this; when the real illness is treated the depression goes away. If a person with a thyroid problem becomes lethargic and depressed, when their thyroid is treated the depression disappears completely. The symptoms we call depression can be symptoms of a true disease and we encourage everyone who is suffering from depression to get a complete medical physical.
We now offer a new page titled Psychology Links with resources that support our claim that depression is not a disease. Many of them offer the Biblical solutions to these trying and troublesome times. We do not take depression lightly here. We realize that these symptoms are real, they are painful and they do cause trauma. What we want the reader to know is that there is hope. We have the cure that always works, but the person must be willing to trust in the power of God and His Word. The Holy Spirit offers us joy and peace; a peace the apostle Paul called a peace that passes all understanding. How true that is. Science and psychology have attempted for some time to cure man’s emotional problems. They have failed miserably and they will continue to do so. God alone has the only answer. Will you believe Him?
Col 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.
Matt 11:28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
1 Nature Reviews Neuroscience 2, 343 - 351 (01 May 2001) - Research and treatment approaches to depression by Ma-Li Wong, Julio Licinio