A couple thoughts on drugs

We’ll talk about drugs more later, but here is my initial take on drugs. (Remember, I’m a pastor, not a doctor, Jim!)

1. Drugs are good. It’s First Article stuff. Whether you are talking about natural or homeopathic remedies, or good ole fashion home grown medication, it is a gift from God. It is part of how God takes care of us through the means of doctors, diet, medication, counseling, etc. Of course, the chief thing for the Christian is the strengthening of the faith by Word and Sacrament. This may not make you feel better (there’s another post for ya), but it certainly is the most important.

2. It is not a sign of weakness to take medication. If your children were sick, you would give them medicine. If your leg was broken, you you wear a cast an probably take pain medication. While opinions and mileage may vary, most experts suggest that depression and anxiety is about 70% biochemical. What that means among other things is that it is very difficult to overcome depression and anxiety disorder without medication.

3. It is a sign of weakness to take medication. Yes, I know, this is a bit of a paradox. But part of what we pastors have to come to realize is that A) We’re human, B) We’re fallible, C) We can succomb to sickness and disease as much as the next sinner, and that D) that doesn’t make us a bad pastor or a bad person. That means that Christ has come for us. Our Lord knows that pastors are weak and in need of His strength and healing. It is arrogance and pride on our part to believe that we can do all things without Christ who strengthens us.

4. When dealing with medication, go to the right kind of doctor. Many general practitioners will prescribe anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medication, etc etc etc. While this may work, I don’t recommend going this way. All medication is a bit of hit and miss, and this is especially true when it comes to medication that affects the mind. Go to a psychiatrist. Talk about your family history. Get whatever tests needs to be done. But if you are serious about wanting to get better, then go to the doctor who can help with the medication part of it.

5. Medication isn’t everything. While medication is a key component (in my opinion), it isn’t everything. I have found counseling absolutely invaluable. I have found having a faithful pastor to be more precious than jewels. My family (esp my wife) have supported me in ways that I can never repay. My congregation has also given me amazing support (we’ll talk about that more later). All of these things sort of run together.

So anyway, there’s my thoughts on drugs for the day. FWIW, I’ve been on Wellbutrin, Zoloft, Clonazepam, Trazedone, Xanax, and a few other things along the way.

Be at peace.

-DarkMyRoad

15 thoughts on “A couple thoughts on drugs”

  1. I think you need to be careful when you talk about drugs.

    As I pastor I’ve had to deal with 2 suicides in the past 18 months. Both of them have been connected to drugs. The first took place 2 months after a person was placed on Cymbalta and the second took place when a man was going off of Wellbutrin XL. Neither one had shown any suicidal thoughts in the past. A third person was told to begin taking Zoloft even though she went to the doctor on a “wellness” visit, she was just having an emotional day.

    Our culture has become little more then a bunch of pill poppers. The art of counseling has been lost by so many professionals. I’m glad you are finding help, but I have to completely dissagree on the use of drugs.

  2. I think you need to be careful when you talk about drugs.

    As I pastor I’ve had to deal with 2 suicides in the past 18 months. Both of them have been connected to drugs. The first took place 2 months after a person was placed on Cymbalta and the second took place when a man was going off of Wellbutrin XL. Neither one had shown any suicidal thoughts in the past. A third person was told to begin taking Zoloft even though she went to the doctor on a “wellness” visit, she was just having an emotional day.

    Our culture has become little more then a bunch of pill poppers. The art of counseling has been lost by so many professionals. I’m glad you are finding help, but I have to completely dissagree on the use of drugs.

  3. Also, be aware that some drugs cause anxiety and depression. I had to take prednisone for an anaphylactic reaction. Predinsone caused some very scary problems for me. My mind was racing, I couldn’t concentrate, I had strange thoughts, and panic attacks for very wierd reasons. The symptoms continued even after I stopped taking the steroid. I had to take anti-depressants for about six months. I weaned myself off of them and have been good since. However, I do have times when I feel very anxious and panicky.

    I also think it is very important to include your medical professional in any decision to stop taking your medications. You should never “quit cold turkey”. My mom, who still suffers from clinical depression, decided she didn’t like the medications she was on. She stopped taking them and tried to kill herself.

  4. Also, be aware that some drugs cause anxiety and depression. I had to take prednisone for an anaphylactic reaction. Predinsone caused some very scary problems for me. My mind was racing, I couldn’t concentrate, I had strange thoughts, and panic attacks for very wierd reasons. The symptoms continued even after I stopped taking the steroid. I had to take anti-depressants for about six months. I weaned myself off of them and have been good since. However, I do have times when I feel very anxious and panicky.

    I also think it is very important to include your medical professional in any decision to stop taking your medications. You should never “quit cold turkey”. My mom, who still suffers from clinical depression, decided she didn’t like the medications she was on. She stopped taking them and tried to kill herself.

  5. One of the two darkest days of my life was when I was on Wellbutrin (bad drug for me) and I was absolutely convinced that I was having a heart attack. Went to the doctor, had the hair shaved off my chest, EKG, etc. Nada. It was the medication. It was prescribed by my family doctor.

    In the very same vein, I have dealt with potential suicides who were both on and off anti-depressants. It should be noted first off that anti-depressants are MUCH tricker when dealing with adolecents. That’s not what I’m talking about.

    What I am saying is very simple: A) talk to a real expert (psychiatrist), not your general practitioner. B) Be very honest and very clear with your responses to the drugs. C) Just because one medication doesn’t work is no reason to toss out the whole concept.

    We do live in a culture of “pill poppers”. However, to follow my analogy before, there is real, scientifically demonstrated bio-chemical causes for depression and anxiety. In the same respect, there are well respected drugs with years and years of successful testing in use. If you had a heart condition, you wouldn’t hesitate to take a blood thinner or whatever was necessary. The same could be said for insulin and a thousand other dieseases.

    Penultimately, I’ll have to look up the data, but there is no question that the number of suicides is WAY WAY higher for depressed people who are not on medication than for those who are.

    Finally, I have been suicidal. I know where that is at and the darkness that clouds everything around it. I would wish it upon no one. It is nothing short of satanic. Our prayers should always be to guard and protect us from the evil one so that the devil, the world and our own sinful nature will not lead us into false belief, despair and other great shame and vice.

    -DarkMyRoad

  6. One of the two darkest days of my life was when I was on Wellbutrin (bad drug for me) and I was absolutely convinced that I was having a heart attack. Went to the doctor, had the hair shaved off my chest, EKG, etc. Nada. It was the medication. It was prescribed by my family doctor.

    In the very same vein, I have dealt with potential suicides who were both on and off anti-depressants. It should be noted first off that anti-depressants are MUCH tricker when dealing with adolecents. That’s not what I’m talking about.

    What I am saying is very simple: A) talk to a real expert (psychiatrist), not your general practitioner. B) Be very honest and very clear with your responses to the drugs. C) Just because one medication doesn’t work is no reason to toss out the whole concept.

    We do live in a culture of “pill poppers”. However, to follow my analogy before, there is real, scientifically demonstrated bio-chemical causes for depression and anxiety. In the same respect, there are well respected drugs with years and years of successful testing in use. If you had a heart condition, you wouldn’t hesitate to take a blood thinner or whatever was necessary. The same could be said for insulin and a thousand other dieseases.

    Penultimately, I’ll have to look up the data, but there is no question that the number of suicides is WAY WAY higher for depressed people who are not on medication than for those who are.

    Finally, I have been suicidal. I know where that is at and the darkness that clouds everything around it. I would wish it upon no one. It is nothing short of satanic. Our prayers should always be to guard and protect us from the evil one so that the devil, the world and our own sinful nature will not lead us into false belief, despair and other great shame and vice.

    -DarkMyRoad

  7. I am in my early 30s. I remember having my first panic attack at the age of 12, and even earlier than that not being able to sleep without the TV on or a fan blowing in my face to occupy my mind. The darned ol ‘feeling of impending doom’ started way back then.

    I have suffered with anxiety and panic attacks in different forms throughout my entire life, and not until just this last month did I finally ask my family doctor for something to help me deal with it.

    I put this decision off for many years. I didn’t want to depend on drugs. Heck my whole life has been fear of such things. I never drank or smoked. I drive with both hands on the wheel, 10 and 2. I didn’t enjoy the relief of simple over the counter pain relievers like Tylenol or ibuprofen until my second c-section … and still after the 4th was crushing those into food. To swallow without thoroughly chewing is a choking hazard, don’t ya know.

    In just 3 weeks, I feel like a new person. A week on Paxil was terrible, but then I was switched to Celexa. Not only can I simply lay down in bed and fall asleep at night and leave the house without fear of an attack (having faced simple situations such as shopping in the city on a busy hot summer day that would’ve normally set me off), but a wonderful bonus has been the loss of 7 pounds! Then, too, there’s that whole being a more patient and thoughtful wife and mother.

    My anxiety isn’t just a mental disability. It affected my physical well being. I couldn’t take a deep breath. My heart had palpatations. The brain affects much. The pains, the struggles … they were real. I didn’t just imagine them, and I couldn’t wish or pray them away. For over 20 years I’ve done that.

    The day I got the prescription I cried. I asked my husband if I was a burden on him. He assured me I wasn’t, and that it’s okay to take the meds. “It’s a most Lutheran thing to know that we can’t fix ourselves, and it’s okay to ask for help.”

  8. I am in my early 30s. I remember having my first panic attack at the age of 12, and even earlier than that not being able to sleep without the TV on or a fan blowing in my face to occupy my mind. The darned ol ‘feeling of impending doom’ started way back then.

    I have suffered with anxiety and panic attacks in different forms throughout my entire life, and not until just this last month did I finally ask my family doctor for something to help me deal with it.

    I put this decision off for many years. I didn’t want to depend on drugs. Heck my whole life has been fear of such things. I never drank or smoked. I drive with both hands on the wheel, 10 and 2. I didn’t enjoy the relief of simple over the counter pain relievers like Tylenol or ibuprofen until my second c-section … and still after the 4th was crushing those into food. To swallow without thoroughly chewing is a choking hazard, don’t ya know.

    In just 3 weeks, I feel like a new person. A week on Paxil was terrible, but then I was switched to Celexa. Not only can I simply lay down in bed and fall asleep at night and leave the house without fear of an attack (having faced simple situations such as shopping in the city on a busy hot summer day that would’ve normally set me off), but a wonderful bonus has been the loss of 7 pounds! Then, too, there’s that whole being a more patient and thoughtful wife and mother.

    My anxiety isn’t just a mental disability. It affected my physical well being. I couldn’t take a deep breath. My heart had palpatations. The brain affects much. The pains, the struggles … they were real. I didn’t just imagine them, and I couldn’t wish or pray them away. For over 20 years I’ve done that.

    The day I got the prescription I cried. I asked my husband if I was a burden on him. He assured me I wasn’t, and that it’s okay to take the meds. “It’s a most Lutheran thing to know that we can’t fix ourselves, and it’s okay to ask for help.”

  9. Dear Getting Better,

    What a wonderful gift! You husband is absolutely right. It is nothing less than sin that convinces us that we can fix ourselves. Whether we’re talking about medication, therapy, or whatever the approach, healing comes “extra nos”. This is most true, of course, with the Gospel, where Christ gives us Himself. Truly the one thing we need.

    Thanks for posting.

    -DarkMyRoad

  10. Dear Getting Better,

    What a wonderful gift! You husband is absolutely right. It is nothing less than sin that convinces us that we can fix ourselves. Whether we’re talking about medication, therapy, or whatever the approach, healing comes “extra nos”. This is most true, of course, with the Gospel, where Christ gives us Himself. Truly the one thing we need.

    Thanks for posting.

    -DarkMyRoad

  11. I think one thing I would add to the drug issue is this: Get a thorough physical first.

    I was suffering from anxiety and depression, and it was caused by hormonal fluctuations caused by a physical condition…and also the anxiety of not knowing what the heck was going on. I have a client who was thought to be schizophrenic, and he had type 1 diabetes. I have seen depression diagnosed many times and then had thyroid issues.

    As this discussion shows, psychotropic drugs are serious. The fact of the matter is, we know they work, but we know very little about WHY they work and how long they can be taken. If there is the possibility of a physical issue, it should be identified and treated first.

    I have also seen food reactions cause these issues….gluten intolerance, food allergies, etc. Some even report a dramatic increase in well being when on a low-carb diet, but that isn’t for everyone. The human body is a very complicated “machine,” and a fault in one area effects the whole system.

  12. I think one thing I would add to the drug issue is this: Get a thorough physical first.

    I was suffering from anxiety and depression, and it was caused by hormonal fluctuations caused by a physical condition…and also the anxiety of not knowing what the heck was going on. I have a client who was thought to be schizophrenic, and he had type 1 diabetes. I have seen depression diagnosed many times and then had thyroid issues.

    As this discussion shows, psychotropic drugs are serious. The fact of the matter is, we know they work, but we know very little about WHY they work and how long they can be taken. If there is the possibility of a physical issue, it should be identified and treated first.

    I have also seen food reactions cause these issues….gluten intolerance, food allergies, etc. Some even report a dramatic increase in well being when on a low-carb diet, but that isn’t for everyone. The human body is a very complicated “machine,” and a fault in one area effects the whole system.

  13. This is a little off the topic of your post. I am a pastor (LCMS) who struggles with depression, and have been for years. Some days I’m fine and very productive; other days I can barely get out of bed or concentrate on anything (and sometimes drink too much to help me feel better–temporarily). I’m driving my wife crazy. I have been too ashamed to seek help or admit that I need it. I feel like it would be some kind of mark on me as being unfit to be a pastor. I don’t know how I’ve maintained this long. It must be by the grace of God. Yet I always feel on the verge of everything falling apart.

    Who can one call to tell this to and get the ball rolling for some help? I don’t know how long I can go on like this.

  14. “I have also seen food reactions cause these issues….gluten intolerance, food allergies, etc. “

    I totally agree. I have dealt with anxiety and depression for many years and now no one would believe me! I am very careful with my diet, practice stillness, get fresh air and in a good relationship. Managing food intolerances and blood sugar levels have been key for me.

    While I do agree that drugs can do wonders for some people, all depression sufferers can be improved with diet and exercise. Sometimes, if one is very depressed, he or she needs a drug as a boost to get exercising and addressing dietary problems. Then maybe the drug can be weaned.

    Just some thoughts…

  15. “I have also seen food reactions cause these issues….gluten intolerance, food allergies, etc. “

    I totally agree. I have dealt with anxiety and depression for many years and now no one would believe me! I am very careful with my diet, practice stillness, get fresh air and in a good relationship. Managing food intolerances and blood sugar levels have been key for me.

    While I do agree that drugs can do wonders for some people, all depression sufferers can be improved with diet and exercise. Sometimes, if one is very depressed, he or she needs a drug as a boost to get exercising and addressing dietary problems. Then maybe the drug can be weaned.

    Just some thoughts…

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