People of faith can suffer from anxiety

There are many misunderstandings and myths about mental health and faith. For example, people of strong religious faith may suffer even more with anxiety, because they think that turning their lives over to God should eliminate those feelings. If they’re still feeling bad, they reason, something must be wrong with their faith.

Anxiety isn’t a sign of weakness or inadequate devotion. It’s a medical issue that’s related to the effect that your life experiences, coping skills, and brain chemistry. There’s no need to be ashamed.

Just ask well-known pastor and author Louie Giglio. Several years ago, he struggled with anxiety and panic attacks that sent him into a deep depression, despite his strong faith in Christ. Today, he uses his experience to help others who struggle with anxiety and depression. His book Goliath Must Fall examines the realities of mental health through the lens of familiar Bible stories. It focuses on gaining the spiritual strength to overcome the things that contribute to anxiety and other problems.

In one of my favorite chapters from the book, Giglio recalls a church camp he attended as a teen. The island on which the camp was located was home to venomous snakes. The teens would catch and kill the snakes by cutting off their heads, and then would marvel how the headless bodies would still try to wrap around the campers’ arms and legs. He points out that the snake bodies were creepy, but harmless.

The snakes’ heads, on the other hand, were deadly. Although there was no life left in the head, the fangs were still full of venom, and a barefoot camper who accidentally stepped on a head could wind up in a life-threatening situation. So the campers always buried the heads deep in the ground.

Giglio reminds us that Christ’s death on the cross defeated Satan. But like the snakes’ bodies, Satan’s presence can still scare us. And, although he’s been defeated, if we step on Satan’s fangs, he can cause us serious harm. While we’re still on earth, Satan’s presence and influence can cause anxiety if we fail to be careful. So even when we overcome problems like anxiety, they can still lurk out there, ready to return and hurt us.

Our professionals at Care to Change understand the medical basis of conditions such as anxiety and depression, but we know it’s just as important to address the spiritual component if we want to help people achieve lasting results. If you’ve been battling your own venomous snakes, perhaps you could benefit from some advice from one of our professional counselors. Not sure? Why not make an appointment and discuss your concerns with one of our counselors? We’ll listen carefully and tell you what we can do to help you.

April is the Director of Care to Change