Why Your Pills Aren't Solving Your Problems [BLOG]

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25% of Americans saw a Mental Health Professional sometime in the last year.

Let that sink in.
As a part of the How to Have a Clear Conscience series, I wanted to address several enormous issues facing people in today’s world and particularly in the United States. In many ways, this post is about Behavioral Medication or Psychotropic Drugs, Depression, Maladies, Mental Health– and the fields serving people with these types of challenges: Counselors, Therapists, Psychologists, Psychiatrists, Pastors, Sociologists, Physicians, Pharmacists, and others.
The fact is, lots of people in our world are hurting and we wanted to stand up and take notice. This is especially important because we want to help people grow in their faith and relationship with God, and sometimes depression and related issues negatively affect a person’s discipleship.
Regarding the ministry of Podcast Seminary, my primary concern is very simple: I want people to be Happy, Healthy, Whole, and Holy.
I want people to find themselves.
I want people to come to terms with themselves.
I want people to be at peace.

But we live in a culture where people are manifesting tremendous problems related to the Modern World and all the challenges of living in it.
I believe that when we take the external challenges people are facing, and add them to what is going on INSIDE of us, that sometimes creates a toxic mix that crushes people– leading to some of the enormous problems we see today. And these things are keeping people from being all God made them to be. That’s what led me to spend a little time talking about that in a recent Facebook LIVE session


Join the Hundreds of Others Who Watched My Video Teaching On This Topic (40 minute discussion)


The August 2017 issue of Time Magazine speaks about the problem of Depression.


Time Magazine


That’s at least part of what I’m addressing here, but not all I’d like to address. I want to use the problem of depression as my starting point, however, so we can use it as a spring board into a larger discussion.
According to Time’s lead article, 16 Million Americans are afflicted by Depression. But– wait for it– One-third of them don’t respond to treatment!!
In Feb 2015, the Center for Disease Control, a US Government service, reported that about 25% of All American Adults (18-65) had seen a therapist in the last 12 months. Let that sink in.
1/4 of Americans are under some regular or irregular PROFESSIONAL mental health care. That’s a significant percentage of people.


CDC Depression


The report, available on the CDC website, reports that the OLDER PEOPLE GET, the more likely they are to need to see a Mental Health Professional– to the tune of 1/3 of median and older adults, according to Mandy Oaklander in the Hope from a Strange Source article being mentioned (Time, August 2017)/
WOW.
Because of the trouble of understanding the complexity of human behavior and the brain, the first antidepressants were introduced only 60 years ago. Clinical Depression– something that should be understood as a serious and significant degree of depression, and not just “feeling bad” occasionally– again, an actual mental health condition, affects a full 6.7% of Americans, nearly 7% of Americans. That’s some 16 million people–not including other people internationally! And that DOES NOT include children and teens.
And believe it or not, depression is the leading cause of disability in the world today.
Depression is like a spider web, and many physical and mental illnesses are related to it.
People may not realize that ANXIETY, PTSD, MIGRAINE HEADACHES, SLEEP DISORDERS, and other issues are sometimes related to depression. Ironically, there hasn’t been a major depression drug breakthrough in the last 30 years, though lots of research has been continuing.
The sad thing is that depression gets the best of some people. In the U.S., suicide is at its highest number in 30 years. And because the situation is so acute, experts agree that patients must get help and they need it more quickly.
As for drugs, it takes up to 4-8 weeks for antidepressants to kick in. And, what’s worse is that 30% of people struggling with depression don’t respond to current treatment options.
As a result, psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, sociologists, physicians, ministers, and others– all of them are frantically trying to figure out what to do as people continue to suffer so profoundly.

The Evolving Understanding of Depression and Related Maladies

Interestingly, doctors have always understood that depression wasn’t just sadness or feeling the blues. Very early on with the ancient physician Hippocrates, 500 B.C., he thought depression had something to do with a bodily fluid imbalance, called Black Bile– from the spleen. Though he was wrong about that, he at least understood that depression was a condition of some sort.
Later, in the Middle Ages, depression was believed to be exclusively a spiritual disease, and possibly even demonic depression. (Though there were some crazy things done to people back then, it’s important to keep in mind that depression SOMETIMES DOES, perhaps OFTEN DOES, have something to do with the spiritual dimension of our lives.)
Later, in the years leading up to the Enlightenment, in the 1600s, the idea came that depression is actually rooted in the BRAIN. But many not-so-great things were done in the name of science early on that were very troubling to us today– things that included electro-convulsive therapy (can you say SHOCK TREATMENTS?), and other types of fixes.
Now, fast forward to the last 30 years. Finally, in 1987 Eli Lilly released a drug based on brain research, and that gave us Prozac and other knock off drugs like it.
The fact is that, despite all this research and thought, psychiatrists have actually said they “have no idea” why, after decades of studying psychotropic drugs and treating people, some people get better, and why such a large percentage do not.

Encouragement for The Large Number of People Not Helped by Medication

Let me give encouragement for The 30% of people Not helped by medication. If your medication is messing you up… or if your drugs aren’t getting the job done– then in consultation with your doctor or therapist, I suggest trying something else… or at least adding to what you’re doing.
Here’s a fact: NOT ALL MENTAL PROBLEMS ARE TREATABLE BY DRUGS.
Sometimes the problem isn’t MENTAL but is more accurately, “Psychological,” if I can make that distinction. Keep reading.
In other words, sometimes depression isn’t rooted in your BRAIN (MENTAL) but in your PSYCHE (MIND). Meaning, sometimes depression is psychological (Meaning in your SOUL).
Don’t miss this: If your depression is not due to your BRAIN– then MEDICAL TREATMENTS TO THE BODY WON’T FIX YOUR PROBLEM– SINCE YOU CAN’T TREAT SPIRITUAL PROBLEMS WITH PHYSICAL REMEDIES. DOES THAT MAKE SENSE?
Let me say it again– you can’t treat spiritual problems with physical remedies. That’s why SOME– up to 30% we think, of people don’t respond to their medications. And that is why I think that sometimes Your Pills aren’t Solving Your Problems.

Non-Drug-Related Solutions to Depression

Now, let’s go to some non-drug solutions suggested by researchers as reported by Time’s Mandy Oaklander, then I’ll go deeper into the spiritual issue.
What are some possible non-drug-related solutions science gives us– for those who aren’t being helped by powerful psychotropic drugs?

1. Exercise— it’s one of the most studied approaches to treating depression, and it helps a lot of people. And it’s free.
2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy— meaning, thinking and behaving differently, where you talk to a counselor or therapist– often 10 to 20 sessions, where you learn techniques of changing negative thought patterns. My opinion on this is that these work for many people– and yet sometimes, they don’t. We want more than “coping” skills, so if Cognitive Behavioral Therapy doesn’t work, keep trying other things.
3) Behavioral Activation Therapy– Another non-drug related treatment is Behavioral Activation therapy- where you take up new behaviors and activities to replace behavior with negative thinking.
4) Mindfulness Training– A fourth major treatment is what’s called “Mindfulness training.” This involves things like daily meditation and yoga.
Let me add to that something that’s more important than mere meditation, and that’s PRAYER.
Meditation is THINKING, while PRAYER is TALKING to God and asking for His Help. So don’t miss that and don’t neglect it. Meditation can help if the problem can be solved by you, but if you can’t solve it within yourself, then you need God’s help.

Understanding Human Nature: A Key To Understanding Some Depression

Now let me take you deep, deep, DEEPER into a critical area of understanding in the topic of depression.
I personally believe that the reason that SOME (note that I am saying SOME, not all, but SOME) treatment for depression, and other maladies that may be related to depression– again, insomnia-sleeplessness, PTSD, anxiety, panic attacks, and so on, the reason I think those may not respond to medication is because they aren’t all “medical” issues.
Some problems we face aren’t physical but spiritual.
If you try to solve spiritual issues in the soul with medical solutions in the body, they won’t be effective, and they can cause more harm than good. Just like if you try to solve medical problems in the body with spiritual solutions alone.
Sometimes you need to take an aspirin IN ADDITION TO PRAYING that God would relieve your headache.
But what I mean here is that, some of us may be looking for medical solutions to spiritual problems. Let me teach you a little about human nature– and this is where Christian educators sometimes differ from other fields of study.
Here’s where you need your thinking cap.

People’s Worldview Impacts Their View of Human Nature and of Treatment for Depression

Many in the Behavioral Fields (secular-behavioral-and some Humanistic psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, therapysts, physicians, etc.) hold a view of human nature that is at odds with scripture, and this is why I think some of their treatments miss the point.

A Secular View of Human Nature- And Its Short-Sightedness

There is an entire field out there that rejects the idea that human nature (how humans are composed) has any type of soul. Some believe we are nothing more than physical bodies… or matter. They are materialists or Physicalists, as the case may be. If you believe as a therapyst or psychiatrist that the only thing that exists is the physical body, then you will treat depression and other maladies as if the only solution is PHYSICAL.
Accordingly, if you believe the human person is nothing more than MATTER and that matter is human flesh made of (a) chemicals and (b) electrical impulses– how will you try to treat such problems? With other chemicals and sometimes electrical impulses. That is what has led to the behavioral community’s production of chemical medications as the primary, and in some cases, only treatment for behavioral issues, depression, and the like.
Does that make sense?
In other words, if the brain is chemicals– then you treat it with chemicals to fix the chemical imbalance in the brain. And in large part– “with regard to the brain and truly brain-related issues,” I agree. But if some medical and counseling professionals assume that “there is no soul” and there are no “inner states” (viz., no conscience, no soul, no real “mind”), then their only treatment option becomes brain-and-not-mind-related treatments– which are largely medications (chemical).
But that’s where SOME– SOME– NOT ALL– in the field of psychiatry and psychology go off the rails.

The Biblical View of Human Nature

Christian educators take their view of human nature from scripture, because we believe God made the body… but that God also made the entire human person.
Podcast Seminary thinks this is important for you to understand. So, let’s go into a little theology.
The Bible teaches that human nature, people, are body, soul and spirit. (1 Thess 5:23). That means the Bible teaches that God made people with BOTH a BODY (chemicals, matter, electrical impulses) AND a SOUL. We are PHYSICAL and SPIRITUAL. So human nature is body, soul, and spirit.
The body is FLESH. The body includes the PHYSICAL BRAIN.
But the soul is not physical. It is not corporeal. It is not material. The soul is, if you please, for lack of a more precise word, “spirit.”
The soul is immaterial. It is not physical. It is not chemical. The human psyche (your mind, emotions, and deliberative choices or “will”) is not matter. Therefore [don’t miss this], the Soul, the Bible teaches, includes the mind, and your emotions, and your will. And these influence and largely regulate our ability to choose, and how our conscience interacts with us. And that’s what we’re studying the human conscience in Podcast Seminary in a very special series at the time of publishing this post.

The Brain and Mind Aren’t the Same Thing

YOUR MIND is a part of your soul. Your BRAIN is a part of your body. Your BRAIN and your MIND are not the same thing.
Your Brain is physical. Your Mind is not.
If the problems you have are caused by problems in your BRAIN, then they are PHYSICAL and can be treated by CHEMICALS or some other cognitive and behavioral techniques.
If your problems are ROOTED IN, caused by, or related to your SOUL– then they are not happening in your BRAIN, but in your MIND. And since the MIND is soul or spirit– you can’t treat SPIRIT with CHEMICALS. The Spirit has to deal with God.
The spirit or soul has to be fixed by spiritual means because it has spiritual causes. So if you have a troubled mind, start with spiritual solutions and work outward toward other behavioral and chemical solutions. If you’ve already tried medications and they haven’t worked… My guess is that the problem is likely something in your soul. That means your issues and problems might be caused by something wrong in your relationship with God.

Relationships Can Also Be Affected By a Wrong Understanding of Human Nature

In addition, in the event that you have “relational” problems– interpersonal problems with others, it’s important to understand that, to the extent the other person approaches the problem the right or wrong way, that too will affect you. So when we (or others) in relationships approach their personal problems or other issues the wrong way, that can affect our relationships. That’s just another reason to get this right.

An Appeal to Take the Bible Seriously About Human Nature and Human Problems

Medication can’t fix the soul– if that’s what’s wrong with us. Medication can’t fix the mind– if that’s what’s wrong with us. Medication can’t ease the conscience– if that’s what’s wrong with us. And medicine can’t solve spiritual problems. In those cases, medication can only mask the real problem and its root causes, and simply dope you up. Ironically, that places you farther than ever from a real solution to your problems.

Our Advice: Start with Your Soul

If you have legitimate problems with depression or other issues that are rooted in the Body and Brain, seek medical help. Then you should even seek psychiatric help if and when needed. But my advice is to START with your SOUL. The brain is a delicate instrument and mind-and-mood-altering drugs are very powerful. They often have profound side-effects. It’s best to look INSIDE your soul before INSIDE your body. More often than not, our bodies are functioning as God intended. The soul is *much more* susceptible to malfunction because we live from our hearts (as writer and brilliant spiritual formation author Dallas Willard said).
If you have depression or other issues rooted in the SOUL and SPIRIT, you might seek nouthetic (biblical) counseling or a solid, biblical Christian counselor. You may want to, if needed, consider other therapeutic help where a solid Christian counselor integrates scriptural truth with helpful integrative counseling and other techniques, and even ultimately medication. But don’t medicate first. And never over medicate.
Most importantly, SEEK SPIRITUAL HELP. SEEK GOD. Seek God’s help.
And that’s my challenge to you IF YOUR PILLS AREN’T SOLVING YOUR PROBLEMS… If you feel like you’ve tried everything else– try God. Try God first, not last. If you’ve tried medication for the body and that didn’t work, try medication for the soul.
God can help.


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Getting Rid of Guilt Once and For All: Why You Still Feel Guilty (blog post)

Blog Header New 2017 July large logoE013, Why You Still Feel Guilty FACEBOOK, BLOG version


Getting Rid of Guilt Once and For All: Why You Still Feel Guilty

It’s sad!

One of the saddest realities of human existence is the fact that so many people carry around the unbearable weight of guilt from past mistakes.
The existence of guilt is one of the primary reasons psychologists, counselors, therapists, physicians, pharmacists, and florists stay perpetually busy. People all around the world seek to assuage their guilt through so many things and yet, for the most part, people remain locked in the grip of either ‘guilt’ itself… or the toxins and captors that promised freedom from guilt.
I doubt if this is overstated.

People truly are riddled with guilt from past mistakes and besetting sins from which they just can’t get free.
It’s really, really, really time for that to end.


Freedom From Guilt is on God’s Terms, Not Ours

But it isn’t automatic. Freedom from the pain of guilt is available to all, but receiving such freedom (emancipation, really) comes on God’s terms, not ours.
For a person, any person, who wants to truly be free… freedom awaits. But the process of being forgiven cannot be short-circuited, otherwise we remain in its suffocating grip.
Let’s explore what I believe are the six scriptural principles of freedom from guilt. And our failure to comply with these six biblical principles is “Why You (We, or I) Still Feel Guilty.”
You can also find a full discussion of these truths on this video version of this discussion, given originally in a Facebook LIVE event.


6 Tips to Getting Rid of Guilt Once and For All

1. To Get Rid of Guilt, We Must Have Awareness of Sin

-We have to become aware that what we’re doing displeases God
-We have to know the difference between right and wrong
-This involves paying careful attention to our hearts. This includes, listening to our conscience. And if you’re a Christian, listening to the Holy Spirit. Half the battle is obeying your conscience, so it doesn’t become abuse and silenced, and then failing to make you aware of sin.
Scripture: Rom 3:20 ESV: For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.


2. To Get Rid of Guilt, We Must Have Acknowledgement of Sin

We must admit or acknowledge it—otherwise we’re keeping secrets from ourselves and we can’t go any further into freedom without acknowledging our sin (individually, not only as a whole set of sins ever committed—at some point, if things are bothering us, we must confess those singularly, one by one).
Scripture: Ps 32:5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.
This passages comes from the “Man After God’s Own Heart” (the person God said pursued Him the most in his own time in history) who had to come to grips with this important principle. So, if the Man After God’s Own Heart had to come to grips with acknowledging it—so might we!


3. To Get Rid of Guilt, We Must Have Contrition

To have contrition means we regret something. I’m not a big fan of when people say “I have no regrets in life.” Really? I mean, really, really?
Unless a person has lived sinful perfection, I can’t imagine saying that. Now, people often mean “I learned something valuable” so they wouldn’t take an action back. The only problem with that is that “it’s not all about us.” In other words, the reason regret is important isn’t just because of US… we should have regret because that makes it clear that we recognize the pain we have caused OTHERS. Only a selfish view of our actions would keep us from having regrets.
And regret is the essence behind the concept of contrition. It means that we feel bad about it. We could have, should have, done otherwise.
Scripture: Psalm 51:17 New International Version: My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.


4. To Get Rid of Guilt, We Must Confess

Confess means to “declare the same thing” or “to repeat.” When we confess, we declare to God that His conviction of our action is accurate. It means we repeat that accusation and conviction back to Him… that we agree with it and declare it.
Proper biblical confession holds nothing back. It fully owns what we’ve done. It doesn’t restate the sin to our own liking, but instead restates it just as God has shown it to us. When we say the same thing about our sin as God does, we can be forgiven. When we shirk responsibility by confessing “to a lesser charge,” we remain in spiritual bondage. It’s as simple as that.
Scripture: Ps 32:5 “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.”
Scripture; 1 John 1:9 “If we are faithful to confess our sin, God is faithful to forgive our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”


5. To Get Rid of Guilt, We Must Repent

Repentance means to change one’s mind. It means to do an about face. It means that we are going in one direction, wrongly, and we recognize and acknowledge that, and then “respond” by changing our mind about what we are doing and the direction we are going… resulting in a change of mind and, after repentance, a change of behavior.
Note that repentance is not the change in behavior exactly—it’s the change of mind. It’s the change of heart. That change and repentance begins to work its way into our behavior and our livestyle. God works His will into us and his transformation from the inside out, which is why it’s mostly about what is going on inside of us. Then, that inward change, results in outward behaviors. But repentance is getting our heart and head right, and that causes a change in our lives as a result.
Scripture: Acts 3:19 –repent that times of refreshing should come from the Lord


6. To Get Rid of Guilt, We May Have to Give Restitution

Genuine repentance leads to a desire to do whatever we can humanly do to right the wrongs in our past. This is what “restitution” is.
Restitution takes many forms. It may mean to approach someone and offer the grace of an apology. It may mean serving a person we’ve violated in some way. It may mean a type of action where we demonstrate penance—and not in “that” way… but to demonstrate to a person we’ve wounded or violated that we are “doing something” as a way to visibly show our contrition and apology. Restitution sometimes even involves cash payment, though that’s when the punishment fits the crime (like when stealing or embezzlement, etc. has occurred).
So what about restitution?
Sometimes restitution is necessary, and sometimes it isn’t.
Sometimes restitution is possible, and sometimes it isn’t.
Sometimes restitution is practical, and sometimes it isn’t.

Now, it should be clear that—even when restitution isn’t practical, it may be necessary. So “impracticality” isn’t in any way an indication that restitution isn’t needed. Impracticality simply makes it harder to do. But, just as it wasn’t “easy” for Jesus to manifest in human flesh in order to die on a cross for human sin—we can’t use the excuse that showing restitution for our wounding of another person is “impractical” or isn’t “easy.” That’s beside the point.
[Want More Details? Watch The Live Video Talk]
Even so, even if it IS possible, and even practical—that doesn’t mean God always wants us to do it in every situation.
Want to learn more about this principle? See my live video talk.
If you have received forgiveness of sins through faith in Jesus Christ, all of your sins are forgiven, whether or not you have been able to make restitution for them. But IF YOU DON’T FEEL FREE FROM A PARTICULAR SIN—ask God to reveal to you if restitution is needed then follow through.
Scripture: Exodus 22:1-14; Leviticus 6:2-5; Matthew 5:23-24
Matthew 5:23-24: “If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift (of worship to the Lord).


What Happens When We Do These Things?

When we biblically deal with our guilt, God responds.

  1. God forgives our offense and restores fellowship with Him (and sometimes others)
  2. God cleanses our lives- and continues to make us holy (like Him and for His use), increasing the spiritual power in our lives, enabling His mighty work in our lives.
  3. He removes emotional guilt (Ps 32:3-5). That results in the end of self-loathing. It means finally having the grace to forgive ourselves and to stop allowing ourselves to be condemned by Satan and to live under the crushing weight of others’ disapproval.

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Album Covers of Our First 20 Podcast Seminary Episodes

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Podcast Seminary Stats for First Three Months, 2017


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Why You 'Still' Feel Guilty (Watch Our Very First Facebook Live Video)

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It’s sad.

One of the saddest realities of human existence is the fact that so many people carry around the unbearable weight of guilt from past mistakes.
The existence of guilt is one of the primary reasons psychologists, counselors, therapists, physicians, pharmacists, and florists stay perpetually busy. People all around the world seek to assuage their guilt through so many things and yet, for the most part, people remain locked in the grip of either ‘guilt’ itself… or the toxins and captors that promised freedom from guilt.
Freedom from the pain of guilt is available to all, but receiving such freedom (emancipation, really) comes on God’s terms, not ours.
For a person, any person, who wants to truly be free… freedom awaits. But the process of being forgiven cannot be short-circuited, otherwise we remain in its suffocating grip.
Let’s explore what I believe are the six scriptural principles of freedom from guilt. And our failure to comply with these six biblical principles is “Why You (We, or I) Still Feel Guilty.”


Thank you!

This event aired live on Facebook on July 22, 2017. It simultaneously aired on Twitter and Periscope livestream as well. Without calculating non-Facebook views, we’re excited that over 300 friends and supporters have now viewed this important discussion on forgiveness and mercy. This is a screenshot from earlier that includes many, but not all of our views and engagement. You’ll see that nearly 1000 of you engaged the Live (or Later) event in some way, in addition to the views that were mentioned. Please accept our thanks. You’re encouraged to view it again, or please share it using the social media buttons on this page– just click and it’s done!


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As also seen on Periscope and Twitter here.