In a blog published this week titled, “Should Christians take Medication for Mental Illness?,” mega-church pastor Perry Noble said Christians struggling with anxiety or depression should consider taking mood-altering drugs to help them cope. He admitted that he used to believe mental illness could be treated with prayer and scripture, but Perry said he has “done a complete 180 in regards to how I used to feel about them.” The leader of NewSpring Church in South Carolina credits the transformation to a period in his life that began in 2008, which he called “darkest time of my entire life.” For the next three years, Noble said he wrestled with depression and even contemplated suicide. He also shares these stories in his new book, “Overwhelmed: Winning the War Against Worry,” due out April 1.
Here I talk to Pastor Noble about his struggle with suicidal thoughts, antidepressants, and what advice he gives Christians who have mental health issues.
RNS: You’ve now shared with the world that you’ve been depressed and considering suicide. Can you share more about your journey to that place?
PN: I was on my way home from work one day and had this thought: “I wish someone would run that red light, hit my car and kill me instantly.” Soon, my thought about someone else taking my life led to me thinking thoughts–infrequent at first, becoming more frequent as time went on–about taking my own life. I remember sitting on the back porch of my house when I reached a breaking point and actually saying, “I am going to do this.”
That thought still freaks me out. I was so close.
RNS: The use of antidepressants has increased 400% in the last 20 years. Should this concern us? What about Christians who say “Rather than medicate, we should learn to rely on God more?”