God’s Power, Prayer, And Paxil

7 Years Ago. Before the book.  Before the records.
It haunts me. It haunts me every single time I walk on stage. And I have walked onto A LOT of stages since then.
Standing in front of the people I love, singing Salvation by Charlie Hall, when for no reason whatsoever my heart begins to FLY AND RACE OUT OF CONTROL, my head begins to spin, I black out.
Next thing I hear…”Is there a doctor in the building? Something has happened to our worship pastor Carlos and we need a doctor.”
That was the beginning of my haunting.
It wasn’t a heart attack.
It was a full blown anxiety attack.
While doing the one thing I felt called to do.
But the haunting is only that. A haunting.
Because through God’s power, prayer, and Paxil, I press on.
Insert boo here. Go ahead. Click it.


Pray harder.
Trust God more.
Pray that demon out.
You don’t need a drug. You need Jesus.
So I even stick that bad boy white little pill on my tattoo that says pray in Korean and see if it will knock it out in one shot.


Crap. That didn’t work.
I’ve heard them all. And you know what, I actually agree.
But along with Jesus, I need the intelligence of the scientists that he created to create this drug I take called Paxil.
I allows the chemicals in my brain that are out of whack to straighten out.
And that is OK.
It is also OK for your mom to take the diabetes meds to help her control her diabetes.
It is also OK for your pastor to take his heart meds because it helps keep his heart beating.


It’s OK for them to pray everyday that if God chooses to take these illnesses from them, that they would.
As do I.
Yet for some reason, He has not.
And that is OK.

You see I honestly believe that Anxiety and Depression are one of the churches dirty little secrets.
I was at a pastors conference where they took an anonymous poll. 80% of the pastors were on anxiety and depression meds and only 15% said anyone outside of their family knew.
No one will ask for prayer and admit to taking something that helps that seratonin smooth out.
Because people will think they are crazy and tell them to trust God more.
News Flash.
We are crazy.
Because of God’s healing I have been able to lead worship in front of a crowd of 90,000 last summer and 9 last Wednesday.
And I believe part of His healing has been through the medicine He has provided.


So pastors, ministers, church workers, church staff, church high level volunteers…
Stop hiding this ailment so the people in your church know that they are not alone in this.
They don’t deserve to walk it alone when you are walking it right next to them.

God can heal me of my heart palpitations and anxiety symptoms.
One day He will.
But until that day….
I’ll make sure everyone I know, knows that God can use a man with anxiety and bouts of depression to lead His church and disturb and disrupt them so that they see Christ’s face fresh again.
It’s better that way even with 20 milligrams a day…


Author loswhit

More posts by loswhit
  • Neal MD

    Imagine us all being honest in church. Where the truth REALLY is what we find important…uncomfortable or not.

  • WELL SAID!! Love you Paxil man! Keep going!

  • Scott Todd

    I can’t thank you enough for this post! I’ve been on Paxil for nearly three years and I feel I’m constantly having to face those comments. I am a husband, father, and pastor. If that combination doesn’t cause anxiety I don’t know what does!
    Thanks for letting me know I’m not alone!

    • Eric

      I am a pastor also, I am looking for someone to talk to….would you mind talking to me?

  • I hear you on this one. It bugs me to no end when people say “you shouldn’t take those pills, just pray, God will heal you.” I’m not on anxiety or depression pills, I’m on something much worse.. in fact its one of the #1 narcotics in North America that people get hooked on and die from.. I’m on Oxycontin and Percocet. 3 years ago while on an outting with my students (playing paintball) I blew 3 (yup THREE) disks in my back.. still to this day no doctor will operate, instead they seem to think it a better idea to keep me high 24/7. The pain in my back/leg and foot is beyond any pain I would wish upon everyone, and that is why I have to take the heavy drugs that I take.. and then theres all those people who say “get off those drugs, and pray” THANKS.. because as if I wasn’t praying before.. I hate being on the drugs I’m on.. because most of the time my brain is up in the clouds and I can’t focus on anything.. but the reality is, without them, I can’t even walk, sit or stand. So I take the drugs.. do I believe God can heal me? Of course I do.. I’ve seen God heal people right in front of my eyes.. but does that mean that I should just stop doing what a doctor has told me to do? NO.. I firmly believe that God put doctors on this earth for a reason, and that is to help us.. if God didn’t want doctors to help us, then he would just heal people when they are sick/suffering.. OR there wouldn’t be sickness and suffering.. so until God decides to heal me (and I pray for it every day, and I try to walk in the truth of it every day) I’m going to keep taking my pills, so that I can continue to help those around me.. because otherwise, I would be stuck in a bed 24/7, and what earthly good am I there?

    Thanks for this post Carlos.. it’s great to see that there are other people out there who see value in modern medicine.

    • Hey man. I’ll pray with you.
      Be strong in Him and I will as well.

  • natalie

    this post is just yet another reason why i love love love your ragamuffin ministry! Thank you and I do pray God heals your anxiety one day! Lord knows there are millions of us out there who wish we could be miraculously healed one day as well ^_^

  • Yep. One Day. Until then.


  • Crystal

    I just suffered my first anxiety attack last Friday and I went through all the emotions: fear of failure, fear of my husband looking at me differently. I’m the oldest of 6 kids-their role model, the perfectionist, the straight A student, recent grad school acceptee. I’m also a social worker. I’m not supposed to have anxiety attacks, I’m supposed to be helping others who have them.

    I’ve heard some stories from friends this week about how they too suffer from anxiety attacks and have found out how common it is. I’m in the midst of seeking help, but I really appreciate the transparency of a Christian role-model– it dispels my fear that there is “something inexplicably wrong with me” and that I will be able to leave the house one day without worrying I’ll have another attack.

    Thanks, Carlos for being so open and honest.

    • Crystal. This has actually helped me help people. Imagine now in your social work you can say, I understand, and you REALLY WILL!.
      I’ll pray for complete healing after I type this comment and if you ever need to talk, I’m right here!

    • There is such beauty to be had amidst all this pain. It put Jer 29:11 into a whole new light, eh?

      I’ll pray for your healing (along with everyone else!) and for revelation, direction, and purpose for how you can better serve God and others using what He’s given you.

    • Oh Crystal girl, I too am a social worker who struggles with anxiety and I work as a counselor helping others w/ similar problems. And you know what? This is a field of broken ppl helping other broken ppl and THATS OKAY. Doctors gets sick, pastors sin, and mental health professionals suffer from mental illness. It doesnt make them any less competent at their work. In fact, it has helped me understand my clients all the more.

      Im fighting hard to reject those “supposed to’s” in my life. God WILL use this for good and you’ll be amazed at how he does it.

  • Jesus loving, Xanax taking lady

    Finally! Thank you!
    Let’s start marketing t-shirts where you can list the medications you’re on- completely customizable with a dry-erase-esque panel so you can modify your mg and/or when you stop, start… just to make people realize that it’s okay!

  • David

    Thanks for posting this and being so open and honest about a sensitive topic. I have panic disorder as well and I’m on medication. I can’t tell you how many times my friends have said that there is a mix up with my relationship to God and that I’m not trusting enough, etc. It’s gotten to the point now that I just keep it my little secret. It’s a shame really because as fellow brothers & sisters in Christ, it would be nice if I could actually have an open and honest relationship with them. Instead, I’m forced to cope with this struggle by myself. I just wish they would seek to understand before passing quick judgement.

  • I’m on Zocor for high cholesterol. I have changed my diet, exercised til I could exercise no more, fasted, prayed, told the cholesterol to “be gone”, prayed some more, gotten off the meds “in faith” that the medicine would be lowered.

    Still on the meds. For now.

    Thanks for your honesty. I want to see more honesty in the Church. The Church will die without it.

    • She shall wither away without it.

  • Thanks for sharing. Anxiety is not something you can pray away if you are chemically imbalanced and I’ve witnessed that firsthand with someone close to me. Here’s to little pills (clonazepam in our case).

  • MJT

    I have experienced anxiety attacks, clinical depression, hospitilization for these ailments, 3 years of therapy and without the meds i wouldnt have made it. I no longer have to take them, its been 5 years without the medication and a lot of hard work, but I doing fine. But,if I landed in that dark place again??? I wouldnt hesitate to go on the medication..

  • I am a worship pastor in a church that believes in healing… and I deal with diabetes. I have believed God for that healing and continue to do so. I also take insulin because I have to. Sometimes I feel a certain level of scrutiny, probably sometimes imagined but I am sure sometimes real… people who are “healthy” who might seek to condemn me for having an illness… but there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ, so I must apologize for continuing to stay alive until Jesus heals my condition… or until he doesn’t. It is not up to me. All I can do is move forward.

  • THANK YOU for this post, Carlos. I’ve been taking antidepressants since October for clinical depression, and I range from feeling resentful that I am “reliant” on medication, and extremely thankful that taking a little pill makes me feel normal and capable. I’ve encountered great misunderstanding in the church about this issue, and also great compassion from other Christians who have been there. Thanks for being one of the voices talking honestly about this.

  • I’m a single mother with three kids.

    Let me tell you, I haven’t felt the anxiety attack from standing in front of a room of people, but I have had debilitating anxiety attacks that haunt me through the night, and make me wonder at times how my financial needs will be met…

    It hurts as a mother to be in that position and for my darling child to not be able to go on a rite-of-passage school field trip because I can’t afford the second $90 payment. (And to which she was gracious and smiled and nodded and said, “It’s okay, I understand.”)

    It hurts as a mother to offer my children scrambled eggs or cereal (okay, sometimes they like it!) for dinner, when we’re exhausted of almost all our other food supplies.

    It hurts as a mother to feel physically ill when opening the mail box, afraid of what unexpected bill arrived that day.

    I take a very mild dose of medicine just to take the edge off the anxiety, but there are days where I literally beg God for the strength to help me find the good amidst the pain.

    God bless you, Carlos. Thank you for your transparency as a Christian man to share of yourself with such a personal matter.

    • I’ve had those days of begging God to help you through the day.

      Which is why I look at people funny when they tell me to pray more or have more faith.

      All we can do is keep clinging to the God who created us and rest in His strength as we take each step in our day.

      Father, please bless Eliza today. Surround her with your Spirit and help her feel You near to her today. Father, give her a light heart and mind that she could see You and your grace in her life.

    • Eliza, I’ve been there & lived thru to the other side. My kids ended up being compassionate, loving indidvuals who learned family team work thru the sacrifices. They are responsible when their peers are partying. They make me proud and they say themselves that our trials made them (and me) better people.
      I found that God enlarged my heart, when I learned to thank Him for the things I had (Health, healthy kids, loving church, food (whatever the type))
      I remember crying at the dentist office when I couldn’t afford the necessary treatment, crying in front of my kids too. But now, years later, the tears have turned to joy, that the fruit of those hard times birthed a diamond-like quality from the lumpy coal.
      I’m praying for you. Thankful for your honesty! There are many walking thru hard spaces, just like you!

  • This post has me in tears…Seven years its been for me too. Since anxiety set up camp. Seven years of prayer and prescription and fighting to get that place where IM OK WITH THAT. Of stopping the relentless voices (that sound a lot like me) saying I dont have enough faith, that I have failed. But slowly I AM entering that place of acceptance…thank you for this

    • Heavenly Father, please bless Mari today. Show her that the only acceptance she needs is Your acceptance. God, please wrap her up and love on her today. That You are all she needs and Your love is perfect even when she is not. You are it, God. Thank you. Amen.

    • Mari.
      I just spent the last 10 minutes praying for you in my kitchen. Knowing you have walked this the exact same amount of time is comforting to many.
      You HAVE won.
      Keep your head up.

      • Thank you Carlos and Jen for your prayers, I am humbled…

  • MJT

    Some more on this topic, it really gets to me when people trivilize anxiety and depression..you know, pray it away, snap out of it. Unless they have walked in those particular moccassins they need to shut up. If you have ever had a panic/anxiety attack and your body is screaming “you are in trouble, you are going to die, its a heart attack”.. and intellectually you know what is going on ,its anxiety, but your brain says “this may be real anyway”…

    • I hear ya’. We recently discussed depression among Christian women, and I was little shocked at how– what’s the right word– not understanding people are. Like you said, unless you’ve gone through it, don’t downplay it. It’s real. It’s not a sign of weakness or reliance on God.

  • I take 1 med for bipolar and 1 med for anxiety and have had sooooo many people try to convince me that if I take certain herbs or if I get my thyroid tested or if I take the newest “miracle healer” then my bipolar (a genetic, life-long illness) will be all fixed!

    I wish people would take the time to listen. I’ve shared with many people about my struggle with bipolar, but so few of them take the time to listen and understand. Most of them give me the responses you’ve gotten. And I feel like I can’t ask those people to pray, if they don’t care about me enough to hear my true struggles.

    Where does that leave me, and the countless others who are suffering secretly, if we feel we can’t ask fellow Christians to pray without being “fixed” or criticized?

    Thank you for posting, for bringing this issue up and for providing a place where I can share. Thank you.

    I pray you’ll have a day full of joy and so focused on Jesus, that you forget your other struggles.

  • I started taking prozac after doing a project in my Masters program of Counseling. The project showed me that I had anxiety and so off to a counselor I went and came home with the prozac. My life changed since then. When I got pregnant the dr asked if I could come off the meds and I said absolutely not! I am much more grounded and less uptight than ever in my life. My husband greatly appreciates me taking meds and one day my daughter and any other children we have will appreciate it also.

    • Paul Vergalla

      I’m very happy for those of my brothers and sisters who have found relief from a drug. I’m bipolar and I thimk I’m over medicated. Lithium, seroquel, celexa. I also have available to me ativan and ambien. Please pray that my doctor will find the right medication and level that I need. Right now I feel unable to do anything contructive. Worthless before the Lord. Unfit for His service.

  • Ann Gardner

    Thank you Carlos. Our pastor talks openly from the pulpit about his treatment for depression and that has made all of us more vulnerable and honest. Pastors like you remove the stigma from things that the church has kept hidden for years. That is so healing. Paul said “If we are out of our mind it is for God…” .Let’s all be crazy for God together like that Apostle Paul.

  • Martha

    Love this post! Thank you for your transparency, Carlos. I am so glad to be in a church community that is open and revealing about depression and other taboo disorders. I am a Lexapro girl and believe God can of course heal us, but he’s also allowed doctors to “heal” me through drugs. Our brains are so incredibly complex and I think they are awesome evidence of God! They’re also examples of our broken world/bodies and our complete dependence on Him. Glory to Him!

  • It took almost 7 months after my daughter was born to realize that nothing that I could do or prayer alone would take my PPD away. I still struggle and feel discouraged for being on meds and people like you, being open about it, brings me encouragement. Though I wish instead you never dealt with anxiety, I am so happy that you chose to be open about your journey. THANKS!

    • Janelle

      I understand I went through a severe hormonal disease after delivering twins. The depression anxiety and panic that came with it was almost unbearable. I don’t think we should ever feel shame about our struggles for it is in our weakness that God makes us dependent on Him it is not about how great, how strong or how much we have it together that God delights in but how much we are dependant on Him. It didn’t happen over night it was a process but God did heal me even though the doctors said it was connected to my hormonal disease. God delivered me anyway, I had to relearn how to think differently according to Gods word and as my thinking shifted I was able to cast off the enemy of my mind. Praise God He says 2 Tim 1:7
      For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind .
      There is a ministry in Georgia called Be in Health http://www.beinhealth.com that helped me walk out. hope this helps you.
      with lots of love and prayers

  • Tric

    I have epilepsy. I have an extremely hard time telling people about it (contrary to the fact that I just told an unknown number of ragamuffins), because for some reason, along with anxiety and depression, epilepsy has this huge stigma. I also get the “just pray and God will heal you” Band-aid response, along with the occasional offer for some kind of exorcism type thing. After I had a seizure at church in the middle of worship, one guy came up to me and told me that the worship service was irritating the demon I had inside, and it caused me to seize when it was agitated. He continued to say that if I continue to go to church, it might irritated the demon enough to leave. I debated talking to him about brain damage, and how I’ve been going to church all my life, but I settled for a blank stare.

  • Cliff


    Thanks for speaking out about this. I’ve struggled with the similar issues and have been on and off of Paxil twice. I know everyone’s situation is different and I don’t want to be one more person trying to tell you how to get off medication but I found the book “From Panic to Power” by Lucinda Bassett incredibly helpful.

  • Matt

    Thanks for sharing Los….God’s grace comes in two little pink pills I take everyday. We not only have broken souls, we also have broken bodies….
    If you,re reading this and you disagree….remember this post when you take something for your headache next time.

  • Amy

    Thank you so much for sharing Carlos! I am so thankful you have felt comfortable enough to share with your readers. You are right. There are so many people dealing with issues such as depression, anxiety, and others who don’t feel comfortable enough to share with anyone. What would our world be like if everyone felt comfortable enough to share?

  • I work for a biopharmaceutical company and have no problems as a Christian doing so. God gave us the intellect, ingenuity and drive to discover, test and use these drugs.

    I pray for God to remove the headaches I get sometimes.
    Then I take some pain relief pills and grab a big cup of caffeine.

    I believe in God’s power to heal.
    I also believe that He has allowed us to discover ways to help with that process through medication.

    God is all-powerful.
    Sometimes He uses us to show His power and glory.
    And sometimes, like Moses, we need a little assistance holding up our hands. (see Exodus 17)

  • amykay

    earlier this year, one of my high school seniors stood up in front of my junior high students to tell her story… with about 5 minutes notice. she talked about her struggles with anxiety and the meds she takes to help. I was SO PROUD of her and I know for a fact that 1) she helped kids in that room by being transparent that day and 2) 95% of the adults in our church would not have admitted that. why is that? what are we afraid of?

  • Brad

    Hey Los,
    Thanks so much for writing this. I am 44 and have suffered since I was 18. I don’t tell anyone, or ask for prayer because I don’t want to be seen as weak. My wonderful girlfriend, soon to be wife, has really helped me see that I don’t need to be ashamed and that I do need prayer. I wish I could snap my fingers and God would take this away, however, it is in his time. I promote a lot of concerts, but cannot get on stage myself, I don’t even want to speak in front of more than 10 people because…….what if? Knowing more people who will open up is huge! Did you know jenny from addison road suffers from panic attacks and has blogged about it? Thanks bro!

  • Vicki

    Nobody would deny medication to someone who is being treated for cancer, or allergies, or headaches. If they take Tylenol are they not trusting God to heal them from a headache? I thank God that He gave wisdom and insight to doctors to help us live in a fallen world. I trust God would not have allowed that to happen if He didn’t want us to use that wisdom. I think we have more of a problem within the church when it comes to things that are “mental illnesses.” It’s our culture leaking into the church, I think. I do think we tend to be a little over-medicated (see too many kids on medication who just need to have a different learning environment) but I do believe that God has different ways of healing different people. Who am I, or anybody else for that matter, to say how God should heal people.

  • ione

    Thank u for the post Carlos 🙂 People need to know that having low levels of seratonin, dopamine, etc. And that take meds don’t have a lack of trust or faith in God because they take meds. For a long time I thought it was something I personally just needed to work out, pray more…and by myself. But the truth is that its a medical condition, not something ppl can snap out of by shear will. Thanx for bringing attention to a very important topic that so many deal with in the church, most of the time very alone.

  • Los,

    I commend your courage. I fought a battle against bipolar disorder over ten years ago. A battle brought on by years of alcohol abuse. I experienced blinding rage and terrifying anxiety attacks. Only the medications brought me to a realization that I needed God in my life.

    I have good friends that suffer as I have. They are also on medications for various emotional ailments including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and clinical depression. We pray together for relief, but more so for God’s peace to fall on each of us.

    In 2003, God kept directing me to 1 Cor 12, and the thorn in Paul’s flesh. The secret, as I saw it there, was that God did not remove the thorn. Rather, He gave Paul the grace to handle it.

    I saw that as His divine answer to my battle with bipolar disorder. In faith, I talked with my psychiatrist about coming off the meds – which were causing severe physical ailments. “The medicines gave me the will to live, but they are going to kill me!”

    Since October, 2003, I have been med-free. And I thank God for that every day.

    What worked for me has not worked for any of my friends. But I don’t believe they have been divinely directed as I felt I was. I never advocate coming off medications without a supreme confidence that God is behind your move. He provides us with physicians who heal in His stead. Some miracles occur, some don’t.

    Your battle gives you the ability to walk with others who are fighting the same battle. Share with them God’s peace. 1 Cor. 12 continues “His power is made perfect in weakness”. Only through our weaknesses can His Glory be made manifest.

    Again, I laud your courage to stand up and say, “I’m weak and need help.” You are in my prayers. May God bless you and the work you do for Him.

  • Thanks for being honest with this post. My husband has similar stuff going on and also is diabetic. I can’t tell you how many people have given me pat answers and the just have more faith and pray more lectures. I normally ask them which takes more faith, to pray for healing (which we certainly have) of to live each day in a broken world with broken bodies trusting God to walk with us through it and to transform us in the process? There is such a stigma in the church about mental illness which is so wrong. Sometimes it’s true that there’s “better living through chemistry.”

  • Mike

    As a Pastor that suffers from depression, I live this post everyday. Unfortunately, I stopped taking my Paxil two years ago, and have suffered through a tremendous amount of pain because of that decision. I felt like I wasnt a man because I needed it. The people around me said I needed to pray for more faith. Blah Blah Blah. Yes, I’ve gone through it all. I finally learned to keep my mouth shut and have found some ways to deal with it. I was doing pretty good until my Dad died last year. Now I find myself in a constant fight to keep my depression (a physiological problem), away from my sorrow (a psychological problem). It’s important to know that these two things are NOT the same. I’ll be honest, I’m scared. I’m scared that if those two things ever touch one another, I wont be able to live through it. As it is, I often think about suicide. At least once a day the topic crosses my mind and I push it away. I’ve never really put this all out there before, but Im desperate. At this point I understand that starting the Paxil again isnt enough. I dont know what to do. I dont have anyone to turn to. And yet the thing that sucks the most is that I counsel with people all the time regarding depression and loss. They get better. I do not.

    • MJT

      You need help my friend

      • Jon B

        i will be praying for you pastor mike. for healing, wisdom and wise counsel, stranth to get help.

    • Pastor Mike, although I know you understand the medication isint an instant cure, if it will help you through this difficult time, thats OKAY. What would you tell someone at your church who came to you with the same exact situation? …Could you show yourself some of that same grace? I have prayed for you…thank u for sharing this here

      • Mike

        Mari, thank you for your reply. It has been exactly a year since I read your words here on Los blog. I finally showed myself grace like you said. I am back on Paxil and Xanax and my life has changed dramatically in many ways. Unfortunately not all of them good. I hit rock bottom before I got help. I had a nervous breakdown and in September Attempted Suicide. While I was in the hospital my wife left me. I was asked to resign my Pastoral position. 19 years of marriage and 15 years of ministry lost because of pride. Because I let people convince me that I could control this. I cant. So while I no longer worry about my physiological problem, I still have to battle the sorrow of losing the ones I love. Last year it was my father. This year it is my family. Next year it could be me… But today I fight. I’ll worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.

    • Paul Vergalla

      Mike I know where you are at. I commend you for carrying on with your duties. Helping others. But you need help too. If there is no one to confied in, in your church, then go outside of it. A doc can prescribe a different medication that may work for you. You need someone to talk to who will not judge. Face to face is best but there are groups, organizations of depressed, bipolar people who are not christian based, like NAMI, National Assoc. of the mentally-ill, and DBPS, or Edwina’s chat room. It’s hard to reach out when you’re depressed. Go on the web and make contact. Hopefully it will help. May our loving God visit you this day so you will know you are not alone.

  • Whit

    I too suffer from anxiety attacks. It is a horrible experience to go through, I will sometimes have an attack because I am so afraid I will have another attack! Mine are attributed to control and loosing it..as if I ever had it, I am learning! I am all for Doctors and medicine let that be clear, however, I am not about masking underlying problems. Sometimes I feel as though folks will take the easy rout and pop a pill to make it all better. I am NOT saying that is the case with anyone on here, I don’t know any of your circumstances, so I hope this is not how it is taken. Personally, and only for me, at this time I am seeking natural healing through the help of counseling, talking openly and honestly to my support system and myself, and trying natural calming agents such as chamomile, lemon balm extracts deep breathing and yoga. If at any point I feel as though I put my child, myself or others at risk or harm will I resort to a pill, of course! In the mean time I am trying to understand myself and be honest as to why this occurs to me and accept it. Thank you for your post and thanks for all the comments! It helps me feel less alone in this journey!

  • Thank you for this. I, like so many other commenters, have had my own bouts with depression- and took medicine to treat it. People are always shocked because I am a “happy” person. It’s still a constant struggle and awareness of my own inability to be “perfect”. Thank you for being so honest. Thank you for telling your story. Thank you for pushing people forward.

  • I was at a women’s retreat once, with a friend who has struggled for years with anxiety and depression, and the speaker (who happened to be a smug, self-righteous bee-atch) told the group that if anyone among us was taking medication for these problems then they didn’t *really* have Jesus, because Jesus gives us peace.

    I said “this is bullshit. we’re out!”, took my friend by the hand and dragged here ass out of there.

    We spent the rest of the weekend finding real Peace – in sunsets, and rock-skipping, in warm apple pie, in telling stories about our babies, in laughing and crying and taking our meds….together. And we thanked Jesus for every one of those gifts, knowing that He does indeed bring Peace, in many, many forms.

    • Jamie I love your post! If only more people within the church had the same B.S. alarm that you do. (BTW – I checked out your blog and became a subscriber!)

      • Whenever I see you comment on Carlos’ posts I have to smile… because you two are both incredible, kick-ass, truth-telling, real-life-living Christian people that I have a lot of respect for (in a world where I have little respect for people who wear that moniker.) Thanks 🙂

    • Paul Vergalla

      Way to go Jamie!Good job!

  • I don’t have the time to read all the comments right now; but thank you for posting. I’ve battled a chronic pain illness for about a dozen years now. Up & down w/ comments and suggestions that I just need to get something corrected in my life, a hidden magic sin issue, etc. Now, as everyone else I’m in process of sanctification…and always have sin issues. I’ve been back/forth on pain meds/off and healthy and not. So, I’m with you, brother! Thanks for always keeping it real! Hope others will feel more encouraged, and especially the Pastors who you minister to.

  • Art

    Good word Carlos. If we can’t be honest in church, and amongst other believers, where in the world can we be honest?

  • Kudos for you bro. The church is the worst at this kind of garbage. I pop a Prilosec every day, there I said it! Anyhow – keep rockin.

  • My depression got really terrible in college, and my life totally fell apart. My mom actually discouraged me from seeing a doctor about getting on medication. She wanted me to try herbal supplements first. I told her that my depression was so severe herbal supplements were not recommended for someone like me. I never did find a drug that worked for me (I think I was on about six different drugs), but I did end up doing two stints in the hospital on the psych ward because I was suicidal, and I did one out-patient program. I’ve been in regular therapy for several years now, and I plan to continue it as long as it helps me cope with life. Even though my depression is…not cured, but let’s say I’m not in a depressive cycle right now, I’m pretty sure that for the rest of my life I’m going to be watching for signs that my depression is worsening, keeping an eye out so that I can get help before things get really bad. Thanks so much for sharing, Carlos. People, especially church people, seem not to talk about this very much. I’m always relieved when I note that a patient at my office (dentist) takes anti-depressants, because it makes me feel less alone.

    • Paul Vergalla

      You’re not alone Brenda. I too had two trips to the crazy hpuse. Numerous outpatient treatments. It’s a battle. Thank God Jesus already won the war. Our battle will be over eventual. He knows what you are going through Brenda. Keep up the fight and God Bless you.

  • Karen Florian

    I sooooo appreciate reading this. I too have suffered from extreme anxiety and OCD thought patterns on and off for the past 10yrs. Unfortunately, the drs I’ve seen haven’t found a medication that works for me. But I’m not giving up.
    I think one of the hardest things I’ve had to let go of was shame of my weakness, and worry of rejection.
    A book that I HIGHLY recommend is “A Life at Last” by Paul David. Excellent. God bless you as you continue serving Him in every aspect of life!

  • Thank you for this post, my friend! It has been years since I have had to deal with any anxiety attacks of such a magnitude, but I have a number of friends going through deep, severe, struggles and feel that they are all alone, that they feel shameful and that they must be doing something wrong. Honesty like yours is what we need more of in this world, and in churches, for all of us in our walks with Faith.

    Thank you, Carlos!

  • mo

    Rock on man. I stuck a bandaid on my tattoo once and it blew it clear across the room.

    • mo

      Might have been bc I flexed, tho.

  • L.

    Amen! Panic attacks and depression are physical problems, not character flaws. Something that happens in the brain is just as much a physical problem as problems that happen in other areas of the body. Depression can be a physical reaction caused by stress, but sometimes it’s caused by other factors.

    By the way, I used to go to a church that thought that depression was a character flaw. I wonder how many people in that church are unnecessarily burdened by guilt because of that misguided belief.

  • annie

    I think this is a great post, and I appreciate the call to be honest, especially within the church. That is why I feel compelled to be honest with people when they tell me that they are on a prescription for anxiety/depression. I have to tell them that yes, I too ( a pastor’s wife) was on Zoloft along with my mother and sister. Seeing the women in my family struggle could have left me feeling like I too would struggle for the rest of my life. But that wasn’t the case.
    Just a few years later I decided that I wanted off of them…there had to be another way. That’s when it HIT THE FAN. Because the truth is that sometimes, when you try to come off of these meds, you truly do have HUGE withdraws (insomnia, anger, sadness etc…) and your symptoms are even more exaggerated, making you feel like you DEFINITELY need the meds. By God’s grace I found a website that helped me wean myself off of the the Zoloft, and I’ve never looked back.
    I just wanted to throw that out there. I don’t judge anyone who needs these meds. But I do want to be a voice for those trying to come off of them as well. It’s hard, but if you feel you’re ready, it’s worth it.

  • Megan

    I take three different meds for anxiety and depression. My husband just went Home to Jesus two weeks ago, after a three year battle with cancer. I have a two year old daughter and have taught kindergarten for 12 years. I’ve kind of made a point to talk openly with my coworkers about my “happy pills”. Enough with the stigma attached to mental illness!! It’s equal to any other physical illness in my mind, and I know for a fact that I would be incapacitated and crippled by the circumstances in my life, were it not for an incredible support system, great medication, and the never-ending grace of God. Kudos to you, Los, for addressing this issue publicly!

    • Nothing about your current situation sounds easy. Thoughts and prayers with you.

  • This post is just one more reason why I love you Los! Your blog is truly a breath of fresh air in our overly religious church culture. Keep up the great work bro and if you ever find yourself in the northeast lunch is on me!

  • I think your spam filter ate my comment because I listed all the meds I’ve been on 🙂 Can you unspam it?

    • Los

      Yes friend…

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Seriously. Thank you.

    Mental illness is something that affects so many people and we need to stop treating it like the one affliction that is the fault of the person who has it. Most would never think to ask when a person is going to stop taking medication for their diabetes, but many have no problem asking how long someone has to be on anti-depressants. And when you’re dealing with depression and feeling isolated already, this is NOT okay and it is NOT helpful.

    Thank you.

  • I have been honest with my clients for years that I take an anti-depressant. I think it helps them understand that they aren’t crazy. I tell them that they would never consider NOT taking their diabetes or heart medication. Well, they should not consider NOT taking their anti-depressant, anti-anxiety, or anti-psychotic medication either. Bravo for you telling it like it is, Carlos!

  • Thank you for being the real deal Carlos! I’ll be forwarding this post to many friends and family.

  • Jon B

    Yeah… thanks for this post carlos. I have had P.T.S.D. and panic disorder for about 6 months now and its hard. i take clonazepam everyday and lorazepam if i need too. im also a co church planter in its early stages. i aked God if he was going to heal me from this anxiety and he said yes but not yet and i will know when. so utill then i will take my meds and keep looking and trusting for his healing. i have learnd alot in this dark time, and it sure is good to hear that i can do both serve and take meds right now because that is somthing i have had a hard time with. and that God can still use me…

    • Jon B

      your right about anxiety in the chuch too, the is not much help out there for christians with axiety/depresion.

  • Man if only we really understood freedom completely. Medications are not a sign of failure or lack of faith. Los, you alluded to it that God has used science to create medications so how can something God uses be something that causes me to be a failure to Him? Not possible! I praise God that there are medications out there that bring relief to people battling some ailment.

    You are not a 2nd rate Christian for taking meds that is a lie from the enemy to cause you more suffering.

  • Lisa

    How many years did I (literally) suffer from depression before I was able to get some pharmaceutical treatment? Too many. I was too busy wondering what was wrong with my faith and seeing myself as spiritually defective. [Just BE more patient! HAVE more faith! Just REST! Just TRUST! Just BE content!! Just CHILL! Just choose to BE HAPPY!!]

    Now that I’m on prozac I’m in a place I’ve never, ever felt before. I’m self-compassionate instead of self-loathing. I’m glad to wake up in the morning instead of disappointed that I didn’t die in the night. I’m smiling and finding myself unexpectedly joyful.

    Because of prozac, I now actually AM able to rest and be content and trust and relax and enjoy and all those things i wanted so badly to do before, but couldn’t emotionally muscle my way there. I’m not TRYING to enjoy life — I just AM enjoying. Totally different.

    I still feel like I’m supposed to say that prayer made me well. But – while prayer probably kept me alive, prozac has brought relief and internal healing.

    Praising God that my brain chemicals match up with the ones in prozac in a way that lifts the very dark fog of depression. aahhhhhhhhhhhhh……….

  • Pingback: READ THIS: God’s Power, Prayer, And Paxil | Ragamuffin Soul « Crossing The Rubicon()

  • Thank you for sharing this. Too many times those who deal with depression and/or anxiety, even among the congregation, are made to feel like it’s best to keep it their own little secret. Depression, like any other illness is treatable with medication. And like all the other imperfections in our bodies, are a result of our Adam nature. Yet, in time God will redeem ALL of His creation, I’m not sure He wants us to muddle through when there are alternatives, like, medication.

  • Wow. Well said, man. Every time I stand to lead worship, I stand as someone with diabetes and dermatomyositis (so weird, I’m sure you don’t know what is is 🙂 But that doesn’t keep me from worshiping. It makes me more desperate for God. I won’t hide it and I won’t stop worshiping.

    Thanks for the encouraging post.

  • bravo.
    And i have decided that the “E” for your middle name is for “Eleanor”

  • Courtney

    I want to thank you for posting this. Several years ago, after the birth of my 2nd child I suffered from post partum depression. At the time we were living on campus at Bible College – in a place where it felt as everyone believed that I was doing the completely wrong thing by taking Paxil. I didn’t stop praying, I didn’t stop loving God, I didn’t stop believing that God could take the depression from me…but I did take Paxil in order to function. After awhile I was able to not take the Paxil anymore and am doing fine (I did have to go on it again briefly after baby #3).
    Although it was a very difficult time in our family’s journey, I am thankful that God allowed me to go through it…I was reminded of His faithfulness, I was reminded how much my husband loves me, I was shown love from unexpected places and I have been able to share with other women in order to help them.
    Thanks again!

  • Ronda

    Thank You! Also thank you to the dear sweet elderly lady in the restroom on the sunday I was crying and talking to another lady at church. She came out of the stall and walked up and told me very firmly to go see my doctor the next day and get some medicine. No more mood swings. Now wish I had done it years ago.

  • @CynHendrix

    Maybe you’ve gotten this advice before but Pv 17:22 says “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones”. Well, that tells me that God thinks medicines do good, right?
    My pastor told me that one Sunday night, and as a Pharmacist (who works for Walgreens), that set me free to a new level. Yes, I believe in healing, and that part of the blessing that I should be walking is divine health. But those that taught me that made me feel condemned that I was causing people to have faith in medicines and not in God for their health and healing.
    Well, if you believe in God, and believe that God created the people who made the medicines and He actually think that medicine is good, then God can supernaturally help that medicine work for you. And then we can lead them from that place to believing that God can heal you without medicine, but you got to start somewhere.
    So, don’t let people hate on you and your medicine, because God said right in his word that medicine “doeth” good!

  • Randy


    Thanks for being brave enough to talk about this. I have suffered from clinical depression and anxiety my entire life and medication save my life years ago. I am able to manage now through a very specific diet but have noticed I am unusual in my willingness to discuss publicly. I know a lot of people need to have this issue in the open to be fully known and fully accepted.

    Bless you man!

  • My gosh… I’m still trying to gather thoughts. The biggest revelation in my mind right now… I’M NOT ALONE.

    Thank you, thank you,…. for writing this and being so transparent. My anxiety symptoms plagued me like a like a thorn in my side for 3 years before I talked to a doctor. Every Sunday I would puke my guts out as an anxiety attack hit me from the time I woke on Sunday, til i walked off the stage. I trusted God the most I feel I ever have during those years but the anxiety never loosened.

    Fastforward… I have been on Paxil now for 2 & a half years. I have been able to continue leading worship, get married (which was a huge anxiety attack waiting to happen) and live my life. Glory to God and His creativity in the design of medicine.

    Thanks again for sharing your life with us.

  • thank you for talking about hard things so that people who struggle with hard things get to say me too. someone gave me that gift and it gave me the strength to get medication myself when I needed it.

  • Karyn

    Thank you for being brave enough to share the hard things. Keeping things like this in the dark places and not bringing it into the light gives the enemy more opportunity to lie to you. I pray others seeing you standing in the light will be brave too! Love you!

  • Five years ago I left my church job on account of my anxiety/depression. It was one of the lowest and most shame filled eras of my life. I spent several years wandering doing odd jobs and questioning my calling. Today I am in semianry getting a degree and prepping to go back into ministry a bit wiser and more humble. I am in christian counseling and it has been several years since my last bout of depression and almost four years since my last panic attack.

    Sadly, no one from that church keeps in contact with me any more and I am still mournful when I think about my journey.

    I mention my story because when I read yours I didn’t feel alone. I hope putting mine up here will make someone else feel supported as well.

    • I’m sorry for the loss and separation you experienced. I’m so glad you’re pursuing your passion and calling!

  • Daniel S.

    Keep rollin’ with it and keeping it real Los! We (the Church) needed to read this.

  • lyndsey

    wow. thank you, thank you. i love what God can do with honesty. and i get really excited when i hear stories like yours within our community as believers. heck yes.

  • shellie (baylormum)

    Los, As another pharmacist commenting, I say, I love your honesty! You’ve never been anything else since I’ve “known” you!

    As an addict in recovery, my 12-step program talks about mood-altering, mind-changing medications. Some in recovery get their panties all in a wad when another member in recovery takes something along the lines of paxil. Those in the 1st group truly believe ANY medication, not just those addictive ones, constitute shunning other members! I have seen members STOP medications that shouldn’t be stopped suddenly, and DIE.

    I believe many (C)hurches think in a similar way. The shame of it all! Just because my brain (I take Celexa) doesn’t fire neurons correctly, I can spin into panic attacks, etc without help. I take thyroid replacement. Why not medication that makes me more level headed. I am NOT a well-functioning person on my own! God is there and so is Celexa! Rock on, Carlos!!

  • You are to be commended bro. One thing I cannot do is ACT like I’m beyond the tribulations of this world, and of course those tribulations often show themselves in our bodies. You said it – we’re ALL messed up humans, learning to lean on the ONLY one who can save us from ourselves. Jesus. I too am a pastor’s wife…the pills I have to take irritate my pride quite nicely. I must say I’ve noticed the voices of condemnation that I HAVE to learn (daily) to not listen to try to come out of my own head. Thanks for reminding your fellow Christian brother that WE serve a GOD OF LOVE and one who doesn’t condemn us for the path of healing we are on. Every good and perfect gift comes from the Father. Last year I would have potentially go into a coma due to heptic encephalopathy driven by ammonia blood levels that stayed in the 70’s no matter what. Many normal drugs failed, but due to a NEW drug created some 6 years back, for now I am in the normal ranges of Ammonia levels…I call it a miracle!!! Needless to say God used the man who created this drug as a way he decided to answer my prayer and save my life. Having learned (like you have well stated) to THANK HIM for his goodness – even through medicine! (I too decided to quit beating myself up that I had not just received the HEALING in the way my pentacostal roots tell me to!)

  • Stacy LJ

    Thanks Los – perfectly timed for my life. Transparent living is so encouraging.

  • P-dog, P-los …you da man. I divide my existence into two life segments…pre-zoloft and on-zoloft.

    My motto: I take zoloft so you don’t have to. Cuz bein around me w/o my friend Z will make u nut up faster than a chicken on a June bug. Know what I’m sayin?

  • Kathy

    God delivered me in a MOMENT from dependency on Oxycodone, but he has never seen fit to allow me to get any rest without an antidepressant and a small amount of Ambien. Thanks, Carlos.

  • exhausted but hopeful

    As the mother of a special needs child, I’ve finally been told by multiple doctors that my 4 yr old son’s impulsive behavior is beyond his control and he needs medication. While I agree that its beyond his control, I’m battling the stigma and the other negative thoughts that come with medicating a small child. Our families are not exactly supportive and would rather tell us to modify his diet or change our behavior modification/discipline (translation: be better parents…ugh) We are scared but we want him to have a normal life and function in a classroom and don’t want him to hurt himself or others. Thank u for your post today. It was divinely timed for so many. It seems that many of us came from church backgrounds where it was easier to believe God for a leg to grow out a la Smith Wigglesworth than to believe Him for healing for anxiety & depression & even childrens behavioral/social disorders. It’s time to open up & discuss it. Thank u for your transparency Los. I pray it’s contagious.

  • i feel like this is part of the tension we live in that will never end til the beginning. tension that sucks. but it is.

    it’s knowing that he can.
    but not knowing if/when he will.

    {said by a girl who prayed for God to heal her dad of cancer and he died anyway}

    im not a fan of those who say, God will. Because he is the one who gets to decide and ultimately like you said, if he chooses, it allows Christ to be the strength in our weaknesses.

    <3 ya

  • AMEN. That simple. Thank you for you eloquent validation. Amen.

  • Thank You, Thank You, THANK. YOU! More and more people need to know and understand that anxiety and depression are illnesses just like diabetes, etc. That it’s OK to have to take something to get the chemicals balanced. That it’s OK to share it with others. Love your work Carlos! Thank you!

  • Michiel

    Not to ask the same uncomfortable and condemning questions again or proof you’re wrong, but I have to testify that I’ve experienced God’s delivering and healing power in my struggle with fear and anxiety.

    And you know what? I’m free from it ever since that day!

    (And if He can do this for me, than He can certainly break your chains of fear and anxiety in the blink of an eye!)

  • Seems to me the far larger issue is the lack of sharing the deep, dark places of our hearts with other believers, and far less whether we take certain pills. Thanks for sharing your heart.

    Also, a hopefully encouraging testimony on this- my wife struggled with depression deeply for several years, taking Welburtrin, and then Sam-E (natural supplement), and then a few years back in a church meeting it was spiritually cleaved off of her in the Spirit. No more drugs, no more depression for 3+ years. It can totally happen in a moment.

  • have you ever heard of something called adrenal fatigue? it’s a stress syndrome and 80% of american’s have some degree of it. that might be something you might want to investigate, as many of it’s symptoms can be mistake for other health conditions (heart racing and irregular beats, depression, insomnia, etc).

    i hope God gives you the freedom you so crave.

  • Glad you talked about this. Not taking medication that can help makes no sense. As an orthopedists I use metal implants to make bones better, and no nobody complains. You did not talk about epidurals to help with labor, though.

  • Hey, I’m a pastor and can totally relate to the stress and occupational hazards of church ministry. I also want my church to be the kind of place where we can be honest about our struggles because we all have them, support each other candidly, and where grace gets sloshed around in massive quantities. I’m also 100% in agreement that chemical deficiencies cause physical symptoms and that there are folks who need medical help for that and shouldn’t be judged spiritually. Amen.


    Los, you said, “80% of the pastors were on anxiety and depression meds” in the anonymous poll. 80%? At the risk of getting my head blown off in this thread, I’m not sure it’s possible for all 80% of any group to have genuine chemical imbalances through no fault of their own. If anything, that stat shows what we also know to be true: SOME (though not nearly all) chemical imbalances are initiated by situational factors compounded by emotional and mental patterns.

    It would be ignorant to suggest that ALL of these pastors just need to pray more. It would also be ignorant to suggest absolutely NONE of these pastor’s struggles are due to poor coping skills. In my experience, we pastors often push our bodies too hard, don’t take care of our souls, allow unhealthy mental patterns to persist, don’t deal with conflict in healthy ways, and internalize our emotions because pastors should be more spiritual than we’re often feeling. I believe this can and does lead to SOME of the chemical imbalances you are talking about.

    It’s not my place to judge which cases are which (that would be just stupid). But I really must point out that while everything you said is true, it’s also true that we live in a society where the accepted “solution” is, increasingly, to throw medication at a symptom and call it a day. This in no way undermines you, your situation, and the grace you’re trying to weave into a healthy awareness of people’s struggles.

    I’ve seen people “judged” for taking meds. Not acceptable. I’ve also seen people attacked for trying to have a balanced conversation about the whole truth. Also not acceptable.

  • Jesus

    Warning: Here comes a Jesus Juke …. lol

    Thank you for your ministry. I am grateful for the kick in the pants that your website can be. I just have to ask with this one though ….

    The brain is a hard one. I know there are medical issues that drugs can help, but I also know that Jeremiah 17 tells me my heart is deceitful and will let me justify a lot of things that are not in line with how God would have me carry myself. Most of the literature I’ve read on “mental illness” is very disturbing. “Mental illness” or “chemical imbalance” is often a catch all diagnosis. Wiki on Antidepressants: “The use of antidepressants in the United States doubled over one decade, from 1996 to 2005. Antidepressant drugs were prescribed to 13 million in 1996 and to 27 million people by 2005. In 2008, more than 164 million prescriptions were written.” Population of the US? 300 million

    If we look at obesity and cholesterol meds or diabetes due to obesity, do we use the same logic? WebMD: “That’s the finding of the latest Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which shows that 63.1% of adults in the U.S. were either overweight or obese in 2009.” This one isn’t the pastor’s dirty little secret because we can see it. But should all of us overweight people (myself included) get together and condone our circumstances because we’re on the same meds? I would hope you agree that we shouldn’t (we should get together and go for a walk =) )

    I’m NOT SAYING meds are bad. If your leg is broken, take the meds. If your arthritis wont let you get out of bed, find that syringe. But with matters of the heart, I firmly believe we need to seek God through His word.

    There’s a field of study directed to this very topic:
    Nouthetic Counseling.
    David Powlison, Wayne Mack, Jay Adams.
    CCEF, NANC, Center for Biblical Counseling

    All that to ask my question. How, as a Christian, do I rectify this:

    1 Peter 5:7
    Cast ALL YOUR anxiety on him because he cares for you.

    Philippians 4:6-9
    Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the PEACE OF GOD, which transcends all understanding, will GUARD YOUR HEART and your minds in Christ Jesus.

    with this:
    “But along with Jesus, I need the intelligence of the scientists that he created to create this drug I take called Paxil.”

    I am IN NO WAY trying to belittle your, or anyone else’s, struggles with anxiety, depression, or any other number of real struggles. As you do a great job of showing, we are HUGELY influenced by our culture (to a fault) so I’m busting a loswhit and stirring up the pot. Have we accepted a cultural norm when it comes to psychotropic medication that might not be biblically faithful?

    • Paul Vergalla

      Antidepressants are given out like candy these days. A lot of people do not need them. But the severly depressed, suicidal do need them. I always cast my cares upon the Lord. I hold nothing back from God. Yet I am still bipolar. If you could get inside my head you would understand. God’s there He understands. Good enough for me.

      • Jesus

        Paul, thank you for your honesty.

        Here is something you might find interesting. Allen Frances is the general editor of the DSM-IV, which is the bible for diagnosing mental illness. Here is an article on what he says about mental illness:


        “there is no definition of a mental disorder. It’s [bs]. I mean, you just can’t define it.”

        “We made mistakes that had terrible consequences,” he says. Diagnoses of autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and bipolar disorder skyrocketed, and Frances thinks his manual inadvertently facilitated these epidemics—and, in the bargain, fostered an increasing tendency to chalk up life’s difficulties to mental illness and then treat them with psychiatric drugs.”


        Another thought to toss around. Here is the criteria for diagnosing depression:


        “From this list, you can see that the diagnosis is based on the person’s description of his feelings, thinking, and behavior. There is little on the list that can be objectively measured. The diagnosis is based on subjective criteria. What a person thinks and feels is the reason for the label ‘depression.’
        How would you respond if a doctor told you that, based on your symptoms or feelings and actions, you had cancer and needed to be on chemotherapy, without the use of any laboratory proof that you needed it? Or what if you told the doctor your foot had no feeling and he responded that it should be amputated based on the information you gave him? You would not allow your subjectivity to be the criteria for such major decisions.
        Yet, in depression, the subjective experience of people becomes the authority and basis for diagnosis and treatment. There are a number of true illnesses that can cause depression, but they will have a truly medical disease label and not just the label ‘depression’. People with organic causes for abnormal behavior are given a diagnosis based on CHANGES IN THE BODY (i.e. physical, tangible, measurable changes), rather than on description of behavior (Smith, The Christian Counselors Medical Desk Reference, 200).”

        Is there even a biblical model for counseling?


        Romans 15:14
        14 I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another.

        Hebrews 3:13
        13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

        1 Thessalonians 4:18
        18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

        1 Thessalonians 5:11
        11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

        James 5:16
        16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

        Romans 15:1
        1 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.

        Galatians 6:1-2
        1 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

        “All these instructions apply to rank-and-file church members, not only to some priestly caste of experts. Counseling, particularly counseling that skillfully employs and applies God’s Word, is a necessary duty of Christian life and fellowship. It is also the expected result of true spiritual maturity: ‘Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God (Col. 3:16)’.” (MacArthur, Counseling: How to counsel biblically, 3).


        Carlos, thank you again for this discussion. I know I’ve taken up a lot of space, but I want to show people that there is more out there than psychotropic help. GOD’S SPIRIT, THROUGH HIS REVEALED WORD AND OUR PROACTIVE OBEDIENCE TO IT, CAN BRING HEALING TO OUR HEARTS AND MINDS. That is my message here. I am deeply troubled that because of the prevalence of psychiatric treatments today, even our churches have lost sight of this reality. Pastors are sending people off to secular psychologists to help them deal with problems of the heart (heart as used in the biblical sense, not biological). The heart belongs to God! We have lost sight of the biblical model of counseling. We as believers have the answers in God’s word to give to one another, we just haven’t been trained how to SKILLFULLY do it. I am not trying to knock or single out anyone on meds in any way. What I am trying to show is that there is hope outside of medication in God’s word; more than we’ve been taught there is. By God’s grace, we can be healed, and there are people our there in the nouthetic counseling world who can SHOW US HOW we can use the scriptures to bring ourselves and others out of the pits of mental anguish, and many other problems, by God’s power.

        One last thing Carlos, Martha Peace (a well known biblical counselor) is located in Georgia (http://www.marthapeace.com/). If you could contact her, she would be WAY MORE QUALIFIED to answer any questions than I would be. I’m just grateful for the chance to put the message out there. God has given you a tremendous platform to speak from, and it would be amazing to see you learn more on this matter.

  • allison

    Thank you for this!!! For 6 years I have hidden my struggle with depression and anxiety as well as my messed up issues with food, eating, and my body. I heard the mantra: have more faith, love Jesus more, pray more, go to church more. I remember last year reading your blog thinking, hey that guy doesn’t seem any crazier than me and he’s admitted his struggle with anxiety. Your bold courage to blog about your issues has helped me bring mine out of darkness and approach others for help and support. Here’s to grace, healing, and a serotonin boost!

  • Maria

    Thanks for your honesty, Carlos. No shame in being broken…we all are. I myself use an anti-anxiety medication that kills millions every year. It’s highly addictive, and there’s no hope for a rehab program. It’s called “eating” or “food.” Someone else I know uses video games to escape, others are control freaks or handle stress by withdrawing. Wounded warriors everywhere, bearing His light, not our own, in terracotta vases.

    For some reason, people are quick to judge, offer simplistic solutions and/or look down upon people who struggle with anxiety, depression and other mental issues…when a similar attitude towards a cancer victim or physically-disabled person would be reprehensible.

    Thanks for sharing your heart, struggles, weaknesses, Carlos…along with your talent, joys and beautiful family. Authenticity in action.

  • rodge

    One of the all time posts, this one. Thanks for your honesty. That 80% of pastors on meds is a pretty scary stat – enough to make you think if 80% of a workforce is on meds, then that industry has something profoundly wrong with it.

  • Tara Hietpas

    As a Christian who has suffered from depression and been on medication for it and hidden it from people in my church family for fear of being judged/criticized/lectured…. I say AMEN to this post!

  • Lana

    Been reading your site for years…this might be my favorite post ever. Thanks.

  • love this post.
    great theology.
    needs to be said more!

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  • new to the blog. whispering amen.

  • unbelievably important topic, thanks for being the brave one.

  • kim

    This is wonderful! As a Christian and someone who ‘suffers’ from severe clinical depression and anxiety, I have had such a hard time with taking my medication. I’ve prayed and agonized over, “Why can’t I just be healed? Why won’t God heal me? Shouldn’t I be stronger?” But it all boils down to He provided the science to create the meds that regulate the chemicals in my brain. And since accepting that and taking my meds with precision I have gotten my life back. Praise the Lord!

  • never came through. cest la vie!

  • Lindsay

    Thanks Carlos this is why we love you because your honest. I suffer with major anxiety/ depression issues and have been on meds that help me, but if I let my “Christian” friends or my pastor know they would freak out. It’s nice to know that I am not alone.

  • I was strangely comforted when studying Philippians 2 (vs. 28) – that Paul (BIG STRONG- GET STONED – GET BACK UP AGAIN – PAUL) had some anxiety. I’m pretty sure if Paxil was available in his day he’d be on it too :). The example I use when people ask me if Christians should be on ‘meds’ – “If you had strep throat, would you take an antibiotic?” Thanks for sharing BIG-STRONG-GET BACK UP AGAIN CARLOS by God’s Grace and Paxil.

  • Thanks for the courage brother!
    Waiting for one day!

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  • Five years ago, I was in college playing a Jury at the end of the Fall semester. I started to play my piece (A Vivaldi violin sonata arranged for double bass) and my heart started to race and my vision narrowed to almost nothing. I nearly dropped my bass and, shaking, I walked back stage.

    Besides that, I constantly dealt with anxiety when doing simple stupid stuff like going to Wal-Mart or a convenience store. Daily tasks caused me a lot of stress.

    I have been on medication for it since the panic attack at school and it has helped me tremendously as a person and musician. I, too, pray for God to help me not need the pills and I believe it will happen…

    I really want to thank you for this post.

  • Pete

    I found this post at the right time. I have been struggling with vertigo and a number of other ailments that are uncommon for an active 33 year old. They can be so debilitating and lead to so much anxiety. I am awake right now after an unexpected ER visit earlier this week, afraid to fall asleep just to wake up to more dizziness or pain. But as my church recently finished an in depth study on the Lord’s Prayer, I have found my strength as well as new meaning in the line “give us THIS DAY our daily bread…”

    God will heal me. And it will come on the day I need his healing the most. And while I would love it to happen right now, I love so much more that it will happen precisely when Christ desires for it to happen. Like the bread we need to survive, God’s plan for us is so perfect that it allows us exactly what we need at exactly the right time.

    And that helps with the anxiety.

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  • Forgive me for asking but how do you know you’re having an anxiety attack? I ask only because our whole livelihood has changed recently and I am leading worship in front of different crowds a lot more than I used to. But even in front of my own people I get tongue-tied, jittery, heart beating out of my chest, nervous and then I blank out (like my mind sometimes goes blank). Sometimes when I’m home, I’ll feel all worked up over nothing, like my kids are having fun in the kitchen doing their chores and I’ll get anxious for no reason and just blurt out or in a frustrated tone try to get them to hush and just do their chores quietly. I don’t even know if this is closely related to anyone else’s symptoms, minor at best right. But I just thought I’d ask, because, well, sometimes though, I’m all-right . . .
    So I’m only asking because I’ve thought that maybe something like this is happening to me in those moments. I haven’t had the guts to talk to anyone about it, not even my wife although if it was the case, it would answer a ton of questions she probably has . . .
    Anyway, if anybody (los, others) wants to chime in here, holla . . .

  • Dear Carlos!

    You have comforted me!
    I am a widow and mom of 6, my husband went home to be with Jesus 9/9/09 – he was leading a Bible Study out of Romans 3 and he fell to his knees, we lost him in 37 minutes to a massive heart attack, he was 42 and we thought healthy – the Lord saw fit to bring him back to tell me these things, “I love you!” “Tell the kids the only way HOME is through Jesus” “Jesus, take me home” I was then able to sing to him with his head in my lap. Still so surreal.

    Background – I have dealt with anxiety/panic attacks since my early twenties (I am 44) – the first time was waking up in the middle of the night thinking I was having a heart attack – a trip to the U of M med center, anxiety – ups and downs with it –

    SO – not quite two years after my husband died the children and I made an out of state move to Missouri to live – arrived in a natural minded community – I decided I could go off the paroxetine and trust God – I weaned myself off in April – I had been on this for a long time – guess what? I needed it – I did okay, I thought I was being weak by needing a med – This Sunday evening I could not sleep – anxious, nervous, fearful, frustrated, irritable – so I got up at 4 a.m. and walked the gravel road in front of our house CRYING OUT TO GOD – take this away from me! what do I do? what do I do? Oh, how I miss my sweet, strong man, but I have our Heavenly Father now and I need to lean on HIM. So I went to the internet and found a bunch of scary JUNK on paxil – didn’t help my anxious thoughts – then I found this post – I found comfort, okay, so I am not a weak Sister in the Lord for taking a med that I obviously need – I have a chemical imbalance – I can’t eat anything, read anything, or think away the seratonin imbalance – I know paroxetine works – how stupid to put my children and myself through this – okay, so taking that first pill on Monday was SCARY – but this post gave me confidence that I am making the right decision and that I am not weak, I am being wise and the foolish thing was to go off of it. I have not been able to be the shining light for Jesus that I am when I am BALANCED.

    So, could you or anyone else who reads this pray for me through this transition – I can feel the rush of the med at different points throughout the day, the nerves are feeling less frayed Praise the Lord, but the warm rushes to my head bring not nice feelings and send my heart rate flying up – is hard to rest.

    This verses came to me – this is what you have done by being so honest and transparent in your journey with anxiety:
    2Corinthians 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

    Thank you and God be with you and your family and keep you mighty and strong for Him,

    • MomaJ

      You are making the right decision. If you had a broken leg you would treat it properly with medical help. You have an imbalance, you need medical help to treat that condition. It is that simple. Also Cognitive Behavior Therapy is very good (CBT). Yoga is extremely healthy (you don’t have to call it that). Some form of exercise. Hope for you, you know yourself and most of all God knows what you need too.

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  • dubs

    Found out last week that what I thought was a heart attack at the age of 32 was actually a panic attack. It’s weird because this happened literally a few days after reading a blog post on here regarding anxiety attacks. I think I was meant to read it to know that I’m not alone in this. Reading this has encouraged me more than you know. That’s important to remember when you’re actually going through an attack.

    I’ve prayed more, studied more, talked with a Christian counselor and will start on some low-dose meds (Prozac and 1 other weird name) soon to help calm my nerves and get my chems back to where they need to be. Just wanted to say thank you for being open about this. From a Dad and a worship drummer – thank you.

  • Kimberly Bowens Robinson

    Im so thankful for this post as i am currently in therapy for anxiety and depression from P.T.S.D. Ive been so conflicted with the prayer vs. pill debate with my family. I just want to feel better Los. Thanks for sharing your experience. Reading this and the comments, Im so comforted by the fact that Im not alone.

    • MomaJ

      Prayer of course will help but unless it changes your brain chemistry you will continue with the symptoms. I guarantee it. Do both, you need both. In fact your symptoms may create new physical illnesses as your body gets wore down by it’s imbalance. You are not alone.

  • That is a great post. Love this. Thank you.

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  • Ariane Guidry

    I am starting on beta blockers and muscle relaxers tomorrow, before the next time I lead worship this Sunday. I have gone to therapy and thought I was better. I have avoided medication for the last two years. Now I’ve been called to lead in our worship band, and each time I die on that stage. I pray often for healing (I even sang “Healer” a couple weeks ago and almost ran off stage in tears and panic). Thank you for letting me feel better about this decision, even if only slightly. Thank you.

  • Rocky Roberts

    As a Christian I know the stigma of being misunderstood by fellow Christians. Thinking if I would just pray enough, cast out unclean spirits in the name of Jesus that it would just go away. I thought I’m not faithful in going to church I’m sinful I’m not reading the Scriptures or maybe I need other Christians to lay their hands on me and pray over and over again still I was cleansed. However Christ said I save you not through works but through Grace and Mercy. We have to accept that we are in perfect no matter how much we work on changing that. LOVE YOURSELF cause if you can’t even love this creation of God then how can you love him.

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  • MomaJ

    Some times there is stimulus overload. Or multitasking and stimulus overload. Have some quiet time away from noise or visual stimulus.

    I had panic attack is Sunday School and during the worship service for years. I sat through it not understanding what was going on. I never recognized a threat of any sort till I saw the similarities between the SS room set up and my home. I was going through a PTSD symptom of anxiety & panic. The room had no windows and we sat in a circle. It seems formalized, awkward and people seemed to be disconnected (or it could be me).
    We had religious abuse at home. We would have devotions at the kitchen table. That should be a good thing except that the other part of the day was merely a time of survival. A horsewhip was hung on the kitchen corner. My dad was a Narcissistic religious abuser. So I started to recognize the dread of going to SS. I usually would sit at the door because sitting in the circle meant the panic would be worse because I feared I had no way of escape. I was trapped. I finally quit SS to save my body from the distress.
    Worship service was the same. Especially if there were more people in back of me. Standing and singing was misery as I tried to work in my mind thoughts of just making it through. I was asked to read scripture, I did, and then I never did again. I skipped verses to get through.
    I remember hearing, “all you need is Jesus, He can take all your anxieties away.” I wrote all the verses in the Bible about anxiety and carried them with me. My anxiety go worse. All we need is Jesus? If I have a broken leg, I think I’ll go to the hospital. If I have anxiety I will go to a therapist.
    Years later. I am now self-differentiated, autonomous and no longer co-dependent. That may sound like a bunch of foreign words. Look them up in family systems. My growing up years, my dad’s Narcissism and his dominate control of the family (taught by the church) completely damaged our family. The church’s teachings destroyed our family along with mental illness; the 2 combined are a disaster. I grew up totally controlled, no sense of self and forming a likeness to everyone around me. I knew nothing different than that.
    Watch out for what the church teaches it can destroy your mental health and that of your families. Watch for control rather than leading. Watch for those who try to destroy the person and put them under shame. Watch for those who teach control in the family rather than love and co-leadership. Watch for teaching that so rigid it boxes you in, guidelines are immobilizing and you feeling the anxious activities of public “do good behavior.” The spiritual, emotional, psychological, physical are inseparable.