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Can the Bible Help with Depression, Eating Disorders, and Porn Addictions?

By: Kristen Clark

Jenna was your average high school girl. From the outside, she seemed happy and excited about life. What most people didn’t know about Jenna, was that her doctor diagnosed her with depression.

Jenna has been taking antidepressants for over a year now and seeing a counselor on a weekly basis. Deep down, she sees very little improvement in her life. She feels hopeless and lost on the inside. 

Melanie is similar to Jenna, only she’s in college. She’s cute, skinny and all the guys seem to like her. From the outside she’s the girl that all the other girls are jealous of. 

What nobody knows though, is that Melanie seriously struggles with her eating habits.

In fact, she had been diagnosed with anorexia. She agreed to go through therapy, but after 6 months, she isn’t seeing any improvement. She feels hopeless and lost on the inside. 

Bryan is the same age as Jenna, only he doesn’t appear happy and excited about life. He keeps to himself and has very few friends. 

A little over two years ago, his parents discovered that Bryan was heavily addicted to porn. Urging him to get counseling Bryan reluctantly agreed. Now, two years later, Bryan finds himself still addicted to porn, and feeling more guilty and more hopeless than ever before. 

Jenna, Melanie, and Bryan each have struggles that are becoming more and more common in today’s society.

They are the people in your church, in your Christian school, and on your sports teams. They are regular people with tough struggles.

After pursuing the most popular routes of medicine, secular therapy, and mainstream counseling, they are each left with little improvement to show for it. 

What went wrong? Why didn’t they find victory over their problems? 

As Christians, we have (as a majority) bought into the secular culture’s solutions for fixing our problems.

We have closed our Bible’s and turned to “other sources” to find answers.

I’ve heard story after story of Christians just like Jenna, Melanie and Bryan who have serious issues, and can’t seem to ever fully conquer them. Is this what God intended? Is this how God wants us to live…in a constant state of struggling? 

I don’t think so. 

The biggest reason many Christians are struggling to find answers and permanent (lifelong) solutions to fixing deep issues is often this: they aren’t getting to the root issues.

I’ve been attending a Biblical counseling conference this past week and have heard some amazing and eye opening teaching from Christian doctors, counselors, and pastors. 

They all agree that most of the secular solutions our culture offers don’t go after the root. 

They shared this illustration to explain:

Imagine you sit down and unknowingly sit on a sharp tack. You feel intense pain in your lower regions, but you don’t get up. Instead, you call up your doctor right away and explain that you feel intense pain in your lower regions.

He prescribes a high dosage of pain killer for you. You take that and it eases the pain temporarily. After several days, you get an infection. Your doctor then prescribes heavier meds to take care of the infection. And on and on this goes. 

From the outside, we know what the root issue is, right?? Get OFF the sharp tack. Stop fixing the symptoms and get to the root issue. 

Removing the tack is the only way to permanently fix this issue. 

This is a great illustration of what often happens to us as Christians. We experience struggles like depression, eating disorders and porn addictions, and we label these as the main issue. We don’t stop to consider that these struggles may only be symptoms of a deeper heart issue.

Unless we address the deeper heart issue, we will most likely never overcome the symptoms. 

When we takes things deeper and address the heart issue, we often discover some form of sin lurking beneath the surface. Root issues are almost always sin issues. And when we call a sin what it is – a sin – the Bible has answers and solutions.

That is where lasting victory is found. 

I have read dozens of stories about people just like Jenna, Melanie, and Bryan who have overcome intense struggles by getting to their root cause. By meeting with a Biblical counselor, they were taken to God’s Word where lasting help and hope is found. 

For Jenna, she discovered her root issue was an idol in her heart that she couldn’t let go of. The more she focused on her idol, the more depressed she became about life.

It wasn’t until a Biblical counselor helped Jenna get to her root sin issue, and solve it Biblically, that she ever found freedom and victory.

For Melanie, her root issue was a fear of man which caused her to stop eating.

She believed the lie that her worth and value came from what guys thought of her. So she did everything she could to try look “pretty” to get people to notice her.

It wasn’t until a Biblical counselor helped Melanie see this root sin issue, and fix it Biblically, that she was finally free. 

For Bryan, he had an extremely low view of God and a high view of himself. He put his pleasures and self-fulfillment far above serving and honoring God.

It wasn’t until a Biblical counselor helped Bryan get to the root of his sin issue, and teach Him a proper theology of God and being a Christian, that Bryan ever found lasting freedom and victory. 

No amount of pills or secular methods will ever fix the root sin issue. 

When we get to the root issue, and call our sin, sin, God has answers. The Bible has solutions for every heart issue we face. God created us and He knows how to help us overcome the toughest and ugliest of sins. 

Yes, the Bible CAN help with depression, eating disorder, and porn addictions.

And that is exactly why I am SO excited about the Biblical counseling movement. This movement is made up of regular Christians who help other regular Christians get to the root issues of their problems using the Bible. 

I can’t encourage you enough to learn more about Biblical counseling by checking out this website: www.biblicalcounseling.com. This organization if full of certified and trained Biblical counselors in cities all across America ready to help for free. 

If you, or someone you know is struggling with a tough issue, I urge you to look them up.

If you are someone who is interested in getting certified as a Biblical counselor yourself (I am!), check out their website for more info. 

God has answers. The Bible is filled with powerful truths that can transform any life and fix the darkness of any struggle. 

How about you?

  • Do you believe God’s Word is able to counsel and help people with deep issues?
  • Do you know how to use the Bible to help someone overcome a sin issue?  
  • How has the Bible helped you overcome sin? 

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35 Responses to Can the Bible Help with Depression, Eating Disorders, and Porn Addictions?

  1. CT says:

    Can somebody PLEASE explain this to the psychology community??? How do you Biblically account for things like multiple personality disorder and schizophrenia??? Also, there’s no counselors in my area — I checked on the website list 🙁 because I have several peers who are seeking/will seek help from the university counseling center, but I feel that would be a really bad choice, and a Biblical counselor would address the issue properly. There’s not even a training center nearby so I can learn myself how to help them. Any suggestions???

    • Celtic Princess says:

      You might try contacting a few of them and see if they’re willing to counsel over Skype?… I know it’s ideal to be in the same place and to actually be able to look into their eyes one on one, but if you can’t get to any of them, Skype/face-time might be the best option…

    • GirlDefined says:

      Hey CT, check out this website, http://www.ibcd.org. They have 100’s of free podcasts and resources filled with Biblical teaching on issues like personality disorder, schizophrenia, depression, etc. This website is a great resource for your own learning, as well as how to help others.

      • CT says:

        Wow, Kristen, thanks, you nailed it! I read your response to Cheryl too. This really helps clear up my confusion, as well as give me some solid, reputable sources. I’m thinking of using this topic for my school project and this will be a great help. Thank you so much!!

  2. Melissa Van Den Assem says:

    Kristen, I think you will make a wonderful Biblical counselor! I really love the blog posts you and Bethany come up with. Thank you! This blog is exactly what we need to hear in this day and age.

  3. Raquel Alves says:

    That was exactly what I needed to hear (or read). Thank you so much, Kristen! God bless you ^-^

  4. Elisabeth Grace says:

    Thanks,I’d appreciate it if y’all would pray for me,I’m really struggling with two big issues right now.Thanks and may God Bless!!

  5. Cheryl says:

    Honestly, I think this article only half-speaks the truth. I am in recovery for various mental illnesses, and God has been my Rock in Recovery. But an illness is still and illness, even if there are spiritual issues involved. A person might be gluttonous and end up having heart disease or diabetes, but they’re still illnesses and need to be treated physically, even if there is a spiritual issue attached. I’ve never chosen recovery for any reason other than he fact that God wants me to. I have seen psychiatrists. I have seen therapists. Doctors… I take medication and, you know what? It helps * a lot*. Because I have certain chemical imbalances and genetic pre-dispositions… I have a natural physical reason to be this way and while, yes, God is a huge part of this recovery, so are the physical aspects that are more secular. Most Christians no longer believe that going to a doctor for a purely physical issue is wrong, so why does the Church still stigmatize mental illness?

    • Jenn says:

      I love the truth that God is our ultimate healer and we need to be aware of any sin issues that are impacting our lives, but I live with a daughter who loves Jesus and has battled major depression with Bibkical counseling and medication and she still struggles. If you’ve never lived with or been close to someone with mental illness you may not understand, but you need to know, as Cheryl said, there are those with true chemical imbalances that will never go away unless God so chooses to heal them. Focusing on God’s truths and addressing heart issues is helpful but it does not cure mental illness. We would never tell a diabetic to stop taking insulin so we as believers must be very careful not to imply that medication for mental illness is wrong. I’ve seen my daughter cry out to God, I’ve seen her beg him to take away her depression, and I’ve seen God say no, at least not right now. We trust that he is using this in her life to make her more like him and that he will be glorified in her life no matter what. That said, it pains me when people say that such a struggle is simply spiritual. I’m loving it and there is a medical issue that has to be treated.

      • Shanice Harris says:

        Hi Jenn. I just wanted to say I am touched reading your comment about your daughter. I like when you said you trust that he is using this in her life to make her more like him. That is how I feel with my schizophrenia, depression, and anxiety. It puts it in a beautiful perspective. We know that long-suffering is apart of the fruit of life so I trust that this too shall pass. I pray your daughter be well and blessed in Jesus’ name. God bless!

    • GirlDefined says:

      Hi Cheryl, I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts on here! And I am truly sorry for the pain and suffering you have endured.

      I totally agree that a person may have a legitimate physical sickness (diabetes & heart disease) which requires medical intervention. I am totally on board with that. However, as far as mental illness and chemical imbalances go, I have read some surprises new research (secular and Christian) which reveals that many of these diagnosis aren’t quite as concrete as we’ve been led to believe. For example, one article stated:

      “If asked, most doctors will admit that the chemical imbalance diagnosis is their “best guess” and that the medicines do have unpleasant to even severe side effects to say nothing of the withdrawal effects. “In fact, leading psychiatrists such as Dr. David Healy don’t even believe in the “chemical imbalance” theory any more. Now researchers agree that whatever antidepressants do, they do not correct an imbalance.”

      I think you will find this article interesting: http://biblicalcounselingcoalition.org/blogs/2014/07/10/helping-a-counselee-understand-chemical-imbalance/

      Can a spiritual problem lead to a physical problem? Yes! And I think many times we address the physical symptom alone, rather than searching for the initial root cause. We live in a day and age where our secular society has removed God from the equation, and come up with their own medical diagnosis for every issue we have (spiritual and physical). And sadly, most doctors (especially psychologists) will admit that much of their diagnosis are simply based on a theory, not medical fact.

      • Zuki Mqeke says:

        Hey Kristen
        Is it possible for you to provide links to the other articles you read( those that dispute chemical imbalances),apart from the one you listed above?

      • Martha says:

        Current (2015) neuroscience research although not coining it a ‘chemical imbalance’ describes it as biliogical imbalances that can be passed on genetically and shown in families, even those who have separated, have biological traits (UK NIMH). So research is still showing that there is something genetically in their enzymes which impact their thought patterns and behaviours.

  6. Mark Shaw says:

    As the director of a women’s program that addresses eating disorders, addictions of all types, self-harm habits, & unplanned pregnancy, I have witnessed 9 young ladies this year graduate our long-term program with victory over life-dominating issues utilizing the sufficient Word of God and the Holy Spirit. Jesus is really all one needs & His body, the church as expressed in local congregations, is able to handle these difficult problems through intensive disciple-making, biblical counsel, & compassionate concern. These young ladies trust in Christ as they learn Who He is & apply His Word wisely to everyday life. It is a joy to watch God transform lives for His own glory, which is what this blog is all about. Thank you for writing it and being bold in your faith.

  7. chorva says:

    Thank you for this! I think you would love the book “Handbook of Happiness” by Charles Solomon who coined the term ‘Spirituoutherapy’ to solve personal crises through targetting our spiritual side, which often has the root cause
    Check it out! 🙂

  8. Martha says:

    I’m so sorry but I think it’s almost dangerous what you’re saying. To say that the root issue for Jenna is sin could be dangerous. I totally agree that biblical counselling is a great thing and has its place but sometimes medication is important in dealing with mental illness, which is what depression is. Using the bible to help people understand their problems is hugely important but u do acknowledge that sometimes people brain chemical balance is off which can cause their problems and medical intervention.

  9. Shanice Harris says:

    I go through high bouts of psychosis with my schizophrenia and during, I have gone to church, been prayed over and received deliverance from a minister, but the voices were still there traumatizing me. It is one of the exceptions where medication is needed to bring it down to be able to function in society properly. I’m not saying deliverance or prayer cannot heal the illness. I believe God can and will heal, but sometimes we endure the long-suffering of the fruit of life where you have to take medication.
    Just adding my experience. I have read much about the spiritual connotations of schizophrenia and spirituality. I dislike leaning on psychology to tell me what I’m experiencing, but it helps break confusion to educate myself on what is going on with my brain and biological chemistry. I’ve actually read an article suggesting Jesus was schizophrenic. There’s so much out there. I believe four things matter about a human to maintain health: biology, psychology, social life, and spirituality. The suffering for me has been a blessing because I came back to Christ and everyday I ask for my spirit and mind to be renewed.

    I love this article a lot. Thank you for citing the biblical counseling website. There are ten counselors in my area and most are at a church I looked up last year when I wanted to get baptized during some high psychosis point in my life. I didn’t go then, but now I am looking to begin counselling with them! I think it’s definitely a sign from God. And this site has been a saving grace for me so so so so much. I’m so happy to be here. Forgive me if i’m not making sense or talking in circles, as I am still not truly clear thinking right now. I want to get everything off my chest. I can’t wait to read the articles you link below for Leanne.

    God bless you!

  10. Madeleine Grace says:

    First off I just want to say how encouraging and awesome this post is!! Thank you so much! And second it’s true!! The bible and The Lord and help you break free of anything! Because that’s what happened to me! For four years from 7th grade to 10th grade I struggled with depression. And toward the end of my 10th grade year it came worse than ever! I tried everything in my own power to stop my depression to break free from it. But nothing changed! Until I heard one of my pears talk at a youth conference at my church! He spoke about his own battle with depression and told us how he broke free. His words I will never forget because try changed my life! He said “if you run to God then he will take away you’re depression” I started crying when he said that because I had tried everything to break free but I was using my own strength not Gods. I didn’t run to him! So after that I ran, I ran straight to The Lord and asked him to take it all away that it was his fight know not mine! And then I broke free! Because of The Lord sand his strength not mine!! I broke free and I can say that I am depression free!! If you run to The Lord than he will take it all away!!! 🙂 and that’s an amazing truth to know!!

    Merry Christmas,
    Madeleine

  11. beth murphy says:

    I would be very careful giving medical and therapeutic advice for very real diseases that more often than not require medical help, as well as counseling/therapy and God’s help to endure and overcome. It is dangerous to suggest using scripture, a biblical counselor and finding the sin issue will cure depression or an eating disorder and suggesting medicine and other forms of therapy are the wrong way to go. These are God given gifts that have saved thousands of lives.

  12. Cappy says:

    “For Jenna, she discovered her root issue was an idol in her heart that she couldn’t let go of. The more she focused on her idol, the more depressed she became about life.”

    According to you, my idol is acting like Jesus as much as I can. I emulate him to the fullest extent and feel like carp because of it. Be careful how you word things. There is a difference between depression and clinical depression.

  13. Katie says:

    I’d love to know where you got your sources on secular therapy an counseling.

  14. Allie says:

    What should I do if I’ve tried? I’ve removed idols from my life and cut my arm when I mess up. I quit taking my medication because you and many others have told me it’s evil. Why do I still hate myself and feel so sad all the time? Please help me.

    • Allie says:

      I figured there was no hope for me.

      • Calina H. says:

        Hi Allie, i have no idea what u are going trhough but i can tell you one thing, when we come to the Lord with sincere hearts, He can free us of ANYTHING, He knows what you are going trhough right now, He is just waiting for you to come to Him and surrender yourself for complete. Dont forget what says in Psalm 42:11 “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”

        • Allie says:

          I have! I even hurt myself wen I sin. I surrendered to go yet i still want to die. I just want this pain to go waay. I have good days, then that thing called depression comes back and I want nothing more than to die.

          • Calina H. says:

            Stop hurting yourself! God created you and He loves, although you dont see it, He doesnt want you to hurt yourself, He wants you to love Him and love yourself and your body, if you ask the Lord with faith to take the depression away, He can do it, theres nothing impossible to God, do you go to church, if you dont, you should think on doing it, and maybe there, start seeking from help, because some battles arent win by ourselves, but sometimes God uses other people to fight with us. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8). Ill be praying for you Allie…

            Heavenly father i pray that you will lay your healing hands on Allie, heal whatever you see that needs healing,heal her heart,mind,body and soul see her through these hard times walk beside her and please guide her and give her strength please warp your arms around her and teach her to trust in you, In Jesus name AMEN.

          • OrangeGirl says:

            How dare you? How dare you tell someone who is hurting to just pray and they’ll get over it? She is in pain, and the thing which has CLEARLY caused her more grief than it is worth is what you’re throwing on her face as a cure.

          • Manda Lore H. says:

            Dear Allie,
            I am so sorry for what you are going through, and I’m sorry you’ve been lead to believe taking you anti-depressant medication is a sin.
            My mom is a strong Christian, and goes to God’s word in prayer many times a day, but she still struggles with depression and has also struggled with wanting to die. It’s been that way off and on since I was a little girl.
            Having also experienced depression myself, I can tell you that it isn’t ALL a sin problem. Yes, parts of it may be rooted in sin, and yes God will reveal those places to us if we seek him. Yes, reading your bible and praying will help you gather the strength to carry on, and yes it’s wonderful to join together with sisters and brothers in Christ to help bear your burdens.
            BUT
            Sometimes depression is caused because your brain can’t produce enough of a chemical to makes you feel happiness. Not because you’re just “feeling sorry for yourself” or “you just need to have more faith” but because of an actual illness in your brain, which is just as much a vital organ as your heart or your lungs. Just like if you had cancer, heart disease, or were sick with the flu. Depression can be an actual, serious, illness.
            I know what it’s like to feel horrible, and want to hurt yourself for feeling depressed when your life is great. In fact, feeling depressed when your life is totally fine is usually caused by depression the illness.
            I would encourage you to ask your doctor exactly what the pills they’ve prescribed you do chemically. Though some people may tell you they are only dealing with the symptoms, the medication may actually be helping a deficiency in needed chemicals already in most people’s bodies that allow them to remain emotionally stable.
            I am again, so sorry you have to go through this, and that you feel alone. Don’t hesitate to talk to people just because you “aren’t supposed to be feeling this way” as a “good Christian”.
            I’ll be praying for you every day.

  15. OrangeGirl says:

    This is absolutely sick! How dare you say that anyone who is going through clinical depression is just a sinner who needs to repent? There are truly sick people who will tkae this advice to heart and not get the help they need until it is too late.

    I thought my depression was my fault because of articles like this. I quite taking my medication and spiraled even further till I attempted suicide multiple times. Mine is not the only case.

    You may have a call from God, but clearly you don’t research enough into what you talk about before you post. You just think prayer is all you need. Read a book or two, for goodness sakes and learn a bit about what you’re talking about.

    It makes me sick to think that people are taking your backwards, uniformed advice as law. Shame on you.

  16. Beth says:

    Wow, you people are sick.

  17. Brandon says:

    Addictions and illnesses lie this are just that, illnesses. You wouldn’t tell someone with cancer to just pray it away without seeking help. Educate yourselves. I’ve seen too many people hurt by this kind of logic.

  18. Dally says:

    I read this again several years later. After taking medication, going to a doctor, and leaving Christianity, I finally overcame my depression. This article alone contributed to me attempting suicide because I thought it was me making my depression worse. It turns out I had a disconnect in my brain that caused me to not be able to think clearly. But sure, I should have just continued praying.

    What you’re saying hurts more than it helps. You point to singular ideas being the sole reason for any problem. The world isn’t simple, there are rarely simple answers to any question. To claim that there is, and parade around like you have the moral high ground because of it, is revolting.

    • Grace R says:

      Thank you for sharing this. So glad you are feeling better and thinking clearly – and I am so sorry to hear about what you went through. You’re absolutely right that this advice hurts more than it helps.

  19. Grace R says:

    Going to treatment for my eating disorder literally saved my life. Please think carefully about posting content that discourages those suffering from life threatening conditions from seeking help. I knew many girls in treatment who were Christians, and who continued to pray and connect with God during their healing process. This is to say, treatment and religion do not have to be mutually exclusive.

  20. Mark Mosely says:

    Biblical counseling is snake oil!!! The Bible is complete Bullshit and should not be used to treat anyone’s mental illness. Mental illnesses are real and they are brain disorders. The Soul and sin has absolutely nothing to do with it.


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