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Healing Line

Healing Line

Ask Judith

by Judith MacNutt
August 1993

Dear Judith,

Q: My seventeen–yearold son was recently diagnosed with depression. The hospital referred us to a local psychiatrist for medication and treatment. We believe in the power of prayer to heal our son. Should we see the psychiatrist in addition to prayer? My son is also a believer.

A: Your question will touch the hearts of our readers. Many families have been touched in some way by this confusing disorder. Depression has been described as the "common cold" of this century. One in five people will suffer from the debilitating effects of this disorder during the course of his or her lifetime. It is estimated that twelve million people annually in this country suffer from depression. Half of this nation's suicides are attributed to clinical depression. Depression left untreated can gradually affect every aspect of life. In some cases, it can become chronic, affecting not only the emotional well–being, but physical health as well.

At CHM we encourage treatment with a combination of psychotherapy, inner healing prayers and medication, if necessary. You didn't state the severity or duration of your son's depression. Certainly a long–standing, severe clinical depression requires antidepressants for a prescribed period of time.

A growing consensus among scientists is that dysfunctions like depression are caused by disruptions of normal brain chemistry. Subconscious issues are thought to alter brain chemistry. We have discovered that deep, traumatic childhood wounds, when left unprocessed and unhealed, can produce depression. Most studies show that drug treatments work best when administered along with counseling or psychotherapy.

Many Christians have expressed concern about taking antidepressants; yet they feel perfectly at ease taking an aspirin for a headache. We need to educate ourselves about any drug the doctor asks us to take in order to appreciate its beneficial effects.

During the last decade research into brain chemistry has produced a group of highly specific antidepressant drugs that have few negative side–effects. They work rather quickly to alleviate the symptoms of depression.

Most of these drugs are effective in balancing the brain chemistry. Some drugs, however, such as Prozac have helped countless numbers of people regain emotional stability, and yet may produce adverse side–effects. Therefore, it is extremely important to remain under the professional care of a competent psychiatrist when using any prescribed antidepressant. (We are very blessed here at CHM to have Dr. Tom Wikstrom, Christian psychiatrist, who helps those who come to us for prayer but also need professional medical help). I do recommend that you find a Christian therapist who can work closely with a psychiatrist or doctor in prescribing the appropriate medicine for your son.

A professional psychiatric evaluation is necessary to determine if your son needs an antidepressant. If he does, a combination of prayer and psychotherapy should bring him the healing he is seeking.

If medication is not necessary he could be experiencing "situational depression" (i.e., caused by a particular situation) which many of us temporarily experience when we live through intense conflict, loss, change, or anxiety. For a time we may feel depressed, sad or unhappy. If these symptoms gradually clear up as the problem subsides, he is probably suffering from situational depression that can be resolved with counseling or psychotherapy and prayer.

Sometimes prayers for generational healing is necessary, especially if depression can be traced back through your ancestry. Occasionally, deliverance prayers may also be necessary if demonic forces are at work. Discernment and the direction of the Holy Spirit are necessary in deciding the appropriate treatment for your son.

Certainly,

  1. Prayer for inner healing is needed (sometimes this alone will be enough).
  2. Counseling will be very helpful.
  3. If the depression is severe, psychiatric help and the prescription of an antidepressant will be needed
  4. It's just possible that prayer for deliverance will also be necessary.

Judith MacNutt Judith MacNutt is author, teacher, conference speaker and co–founder of CHM. August 1993 Issue