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What does the Bible say about Bipolar Disorder / Manic Depression?

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    What does the Bible say about Bipolar Disorder / Manic Depression?

    Gotquestions.org

    Note: as with many psychological issues, there are often both a physical and spiritual aspect of manic depression / bipolar disorder. While we believe psychologists often miss the true spiritual nature of the sickness, we strongly encourage anyone suffering with a mental illness to seek medical attention and counseling.

    Answer: Bipolar Disorder, or BD, (formerly known as Manic Depressive Disorder) is a mental illness classified as a mood disorder. There are several forms of the disorder, some being more severe, and others emphasizing either the mania or the depression side of the disorder. In general, the disorder is characterized by extreme highs and lows in mood which affect emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. The manic episodes are what make this mood disorder different from other forms of depression. Mania can include any of the following symptoms: a feeling of inflated self-importance, grandiose thinking, hyper speech, racing thoughts, increased energy level, risky behaviors, and wildly unrealistic judgment. The manic depressive is easily agitated or angered when these fantastic views inevitably meet reality. Thus, a manic episode is typically followed by an explosion of anger and a plunge into depression and despair.

    The behaviors and mood swings are the primary indicators for diagnosing manic depression, as there is no organic or physical evidence of a chemical imbalance that causes this disorder. The research simply identifies areas of brain activity, not the precise neurochemical reactions to indicate a causal relationship to the symptoms (the brain activity could be a result of the disorder rather than a cause). Furthermore, medicine that targets brain chemistry is not an exact science. Medicine can reduce manic depressive symptoms for some, but not all patients.

    The Bible does not use the term bipolar or manic. These are man-made terms used to describe behavior patterns and characteristics. The science of mental illness is a way to study and diagnose problems rather than find solutions for them. On the other hand, the Bible does provide answers to issues related to Bipolar Disorder; for example, a manic episode includes a prideful view of self, a strong desire to gratify wants, and uncontrolled, destructive anger. These are natural desires we are all born with, but we respond differently to them depending on our DNA, environment, and spiritual condition. These factors all play a role in how Bipolar Disorder can develop and take hold in a person’s life. Having Bipolar Disorder is not a sin, but blaming sin on BD is inappropriate. It is we who make sinful choices due to our sinful nature.

    In summary, Bipolar Disorder is a type of human frailty that is ultimately caused by our sinful heart condition. BD does not determine a person’s identity, nor is it a life sentence that cannot be overcome. The answer to surmounting BD lies in the spiritual reality we face. We need salvation through Jesus Christ. Salvation sets the captive free from the chains of sin (Proverbs 5:22; Romans 6:6, 14). Without Jesus there is no hope of a redemptive work in our hearts to overcome human weakness.

    The gospel is the first need of someone who suffers from BD. A relationship with Jesus is the first step and the only way to true, lasting healing. For those who are walking through this trial, the biblical advice is to examine what part they need to own and know how to respond biblically to temptation.

    Having a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder will indicate an area of struggle, particularly with anger and pride (self-importance, selfish desires). A Christian who is dying to self and following Jesus must face these weak areas like he would any other temptation through the help of the Holy Spirit (Romans 13:12-14; Ephesians 6:10-18). Discipling, biblical counsel, support from Christian friends, and personal Bible study are essential tools for spiritual growth and victory over habitual sin. Medication and psychiatric/psychological counseling can be helpful, as long as it is done in conjunction with spiritual guidance. Otherwise, such counseling is nothing more than a band-aid for BD’s symptoms and could potentially cause more harm if it keeps a person from seeing his greatest need is Jesus. Those who place their trust in Jesus will experience the hope that does not disappoint (Romans 5:1-5).

    #2
    In bipolar depression the person experiences mood swings from manic enthusiasm on one hand to depressive gloom on the other. Manic highs can give the impression of both insanity and demonization. When on a manic high, the afflicted person may appear totally out of control. He may yell, run wild, or destroy personal property; or he may simply talk, incessantly, about illusions.

    In unipolar clinical depression, however, there are no manic highs. There is only gloom and despair. Such persons can become suicidal. Death is preferable to life that has become unending and ever-increasing pain.

    Specialist are now convinced both bipolar and unipolar depressions are primarily biological. Dr. John White says it is now believed that both bipolar and unipolar depression illnesses are due to "the scarcity" of neurotransmitters in the brain. They are tiny electrical-chemical "dispatch riders," to use Dr. White's term, which are supposed to carry the messages contained in the nerve cells of the brain from one nerve cell to another.

    For some reason they get locked up in storage areas in the nerve cells. Treatment is aimed at either releasing them or keeping them going longer... we really don't take messages of the brain from one part of the brain to the other, so much as from one nerve cell to the next. In two nerve cells in the communication network there is a tiny space filled with fluid called synapse. Area transmitters pick up messages from one side of the synapse and deliver them on to the other, their range is rather limited.

    If the neurotransmitters become scarce, that is, if they are not released from nerve cell to nerve cell, the brain malfunctions. When they fail, the part of the brain which controls our moods, our powers of concentration, energy, sleep, sexual drive, appetite, and so forth are affected. We become gloomy, we lose our energy. As one psychiatrist put it, the "joy center" of the brain is sabotaged. We lose all joy for life. We lose our normal desire for love, sex, food, beauty, humor. We either want to sleep all the time or are unable to sleep at all. We either eat in wild excess, not enjoying what we eat but eating compulsively, or we cannot eat because food has lost its appeal.

    It is important to realize that the behavior caused by defective brain functions often mimics similar behavioral patterns produced by demonization; thus the need for correct diagnosis. We cannot cast out non-existent demons!
    Comment>

      #3
      William, I believe what you are referring to is serotonin, the chemical which controls moods from the brain. In neural transmitting, the chemical is to be passed from one neural synapse to the next in the brain, but in a person suffering with manic depression (bipolar), the serotonin is rejected by the next neuron for an unknown reason and the sending neuron re-uptakes the serotonin into itself, preventing it from being carried out through the brain as it ought. SSRI's are drugs that help prevent the re-uptake of the serotonin, thus normalizing the patient. It can be quite difficult to control, and is unpredictable.

      The fact that this disease is real does not discount the possibility that demons could also cause depression or mania. In fact, doctors are not sure which comes first, the chicken or the egg, as in does demonic or circumstantial activity cause the chemical imbalance, or does the imbalance come first, and thus may be the only problem. I have heard from a pastor with a PhD and a world-renowned psychiatrist that demonic activity does not get enough recognition as to people's ailments through fouling up the normal bodily functions, whether they be in the brain or wherever. Yet, we must be careful not to give them too much credit, either. Just because something can be explained scientifically does not mean God had nothing to do with it. The same can be said about demonic attack. It is all too easy to say that we are seeing things or hearing things in our minds, when they are paranormal. One must not drive himself batty trying to figure out who or what is responsible, but to just stick close to the Lord through prayer and study. That's really the bottom line no matter what the disease is, and no matter who or what is causing it.

      The trouble is, that the moment we go down the road of discussing the possibility that demons could be at fault, we can really lose it, and we cannot let that happen. If demons are involved, remember that greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. Through Jesus, we are the victors in spite of our bodies acting up. Paul had a "thorn in his flesh" which was a messenger from Satan, and despite 3 attempts through prayer to get rid of it, God said, "My grace is sufficient for thee." No worries, guys. Jesus says we are to be anxious for nothing. He wants us to trust in Him.
      Comment>

        #4
        Originally posted by William View Post
        Note: as with many psychological issues, there are often both a physical and spiritual aspect of manic depression / bipolar disorder. While we believe psychologists often miss the true spiritual nature of the sickness, we strongly encourage anyone suffering with a mental illness to seek medical attention and counseling.
        A psychologist does not need to understand any "spiritual nature of [a] sickness" in order to do their job, which is to analyze, diagnose, and refer treatment to a psychiatrist. There are Christian psychologists who have the same job description and processes as secular psychologists. Their job isn't to minister to spiritual wellness, but rather physical wellness.

        Originally posted by William View Post
        Answer: Bipolar Disorder, or BD, (formerly known as Manic Depressive Disorder) is a mental illness classified as a mood disorder.
        Why is this article not attributed to GotQuestions.org, where it came from? In addition to other factors, they are the only place I have ever heard call bipolar disorder "BD." Comparing this article and the current GotQuestions article, there are too many similarities to ignore them as at least a source, if not the original source for this explanation.

        Originally posted by William View Post
        There are several forms of the disorder, some being more severe, and others emphasizing either the mania or the depression side of the disorder. In general, the disorder is characterized by extreme highs and lows in mood which affect emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. The manic episodes are what make this mood disorder different from other forms of depression. Mania can include any of the following symptoms: a feeling of inflated self-importance, grandiose thinking, hyper speech, racing thoughts, increased energy level, risky behaviors, and wildly unrealistic judgment.
        Most of that is correct.

        Originally posted by William View Post
        The manic depressive is easily agitated or angered when these fantastic views inevitably meet reality. Thus, a manic episode is typically followed by an explosion of anger and a plunge into depression and despair.
        A person with manic depression is not necessarily delusional or unaware of reality, so their agitation does not come exclusively from "fantastic views inevitably meet[ing] reality." Agitation can occur from any number of things. Triggers are different for each person, though one common feature is when there are abrupt changes in plan, or when a person's mind is not at pace with their body. In other words, someone in a manic phase may know exactly what they want to say, but their mind is moving so quickly, their normal brain-to-speech functions are impaired, thus causing agitation. People with bipolar disorder are not inherently delusional.

        Originally posted by William View Post
        The behaviors and mood swings are the primary indicators for diagnosing manic depression, as there is no organic or physical evidence of a chemical imbalance that causes this disorder. The research simply identifies areas of brain activity, not the precise neurochemical reactions to indicate a causal relationship to the symptoms (the brain activity could be a result of the disorder rather than a cause). Furthermore, medicine that targets brain chemistry is not an exact science. Medicine can reduce manic depressive symptoms for some, but not all patients.

        The Bible does not use the term bipolar or manic. These are man-made terms used to describe behavior patterns and characteristics.
        This is also correct.

        Originally posted by William View Post
        The science of mental illness is a way to study and diagnose problems rather than find solutions for them.
        "The science of mental illness?" To which science does this refer? There are a number of fields of study related to the brain, chemical reactions within the body, psychology, and so on, and some of those fields are exclusively dedicated to finding cures for mental illnesses. There are certainly some fields of study that are more concerned with management of symptoms than healing the disease, but as there is currently no known cure for any mental illness, the best that can be done through science is management. To say that's all they care about, however, is a lie. It's like saying oncologists aren't concerned with curing cancer (a lie people actually believe, resulting in "Big Pharma" conspiracies).

        Originally posted by William View Post
        On the other hand, the Bible does provide answers to issues related to Bipolar Disorder; for example, a manic episode includes a prideful view of self, a strong desire to gratify wants, and uncontrolled, destructive anger.
        Again, wrong. A manic episode does not inherently involve any sin. All a manic episode involves is less need for sleep, an increased amount of energy, and attributes like racing thoughts or increased irritability. "Pride," "greed," and "wrath" are not diagnostic criteria for mania, nor are they an inherent part of increased energy. Certainly, the increased irritability can lead to these things, but so can being a jerk. A person with a mental illness is not more likely to sin than anyone else, and a person who has manic depression and a sense of self-awareness can understand and control their potentially sinful thoughts and actions, short of full-blown psychosis.

        Originally posted by William View Post
        These are natural desires we are all born with, but we respond differently to them depending on our DNA, environment, and spiritual condition. These factors all play a role in how Bipolar Disorder can develop and take hold in a person’s life. Having Bipolar Disorder is not a sin, but blaming sin on BD is inappropriate. It is we who make sinful choices due to our sinful nature.
        This is true.

        Originally posted by William View Post
        In summary, Bipolar Disorder is a type of human frailty that is ultimately caused by our sinful heart condition.
        No.

        Bipolar disorder is a mental illness with an unknown cause. It is not caused because a person is weak, or because a person is inherently sinful, or because a person is more sinful than someone else. Bipolar disorder happens, and for reasons God knows, but humans can't understand. Like the man born blind, no one is bipolar because of their sin or the sin of their parents; they are bipolar because they are bipolar.

        Originally posted by William View Post
        BD does not determine a person’s identity, nor is it a life sentence that cannot be overcome. The answer to surmounting BD lies in the spiritual reality we face. We need salvation through Jesus Christ. Salvation sets the captive free from the chains of sin (Proverbs 5:22; Romans 6:6, 14). Without Jesus there is no hope of a redemptive work in our hearts to overcome human weakness.
        Salvation is not a cure for bipolar disorder, because bipolar disorder is not a sin. We can manage bipolar disorder through doctors, self-awareness, therapy, and medication. God is also capable of healing us with a miracle, but He often chooses not to do so for reasons He understands. Bipolar disorder is, without a statistically unlikely but possible miracle from God, a life sentence. The remission rate of bipolar disorder is almost unheard of. These are realities. Bipolar does not define a person, but it is far more than likely a permanent condition a person will need to learn to manage.

        Originally posted by William View Post
        The gospel is the first need of someone who suffers from BD. A relationship with Jesus is the first step and the only way to true, lasting healing. For those who are walking through this trial, the biblical advice is to examine what part they need to own and know how to respond biblically to temptation.

        Having a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder will indicate an area of struggle, particularly with anger and pride (self-importance, selfish desires). A Christian who is dying to self and following Jesus must face these weak areas like he would any other temptation through the help of the Holy Spirit (Romans 13:12-14; Ephesians 6:10-18). Discipling, biblical counsel, support from Christian friends, and personal Bible study are essential tools for spiritual growth and victory over habitual sin. Medication and psychiatric/psychological counseling can be helpful, as long as it is done in conjunction with spiritual guidance. Otherwise, such counseling is nothing more than a band-aid for BD’s symptoms and could potentially cause more harm if it keeps a person from seeing his greatest need is Jesus. Those who place their trust in Jesus will experience the hope that does not disappoint (Romans 5:1-5).
        Every person's greatest spiritual need is Jesus, but do not ignore the absolute necessity of physical, medical help. It is not second to Jesus. Christ is our first spiritual need, and medical attention is our first physical need. Advising someone to not seek medical help unless they can also find spiritual guidance is dangerous and could actually cost someone their life. The suicide rate among those with bipolar disorder is nothing to sneeze at, and there are those of us (people with bipolar disorder) who have been able to receive medical help, but not spiritual guidance. Thankfully, I had a clinic who would listen to me, when the church was giving much of what I see here: blame, caution against treatment, and condemnation. "It's your fault you have bipolar. Pray more. Repent of your sins. Don't take medication, just believe more." These were the stated or, more often, implied messages from the church environment I was in.

        Having a mental illness is not the fault of the person who suffers from it. They are no more or less inclined toward sin than anyone else, and management of their illness is vital to preserve their life. I am not more prone to anger because I'm bipolar. I am not more prone to lust because I experience periods of hypersexuality. Every person, mentally ill or not, needs self-awareness, needs medical care, and needs their physical life sorted, in addition to having their spiritual life sorted. Mind, body, and spirit are all equally important, and advising people that treatment of mental illness is secondary to one's spiritual needs is potentially lethal.
        Comment>

          #5
          Originally posted by Penguin View Post
          Why is this article not attributed to GotQuestions.org, where it came from? In addition to other factors, they are the only place I have ever heard call bipolar disorder "BD." Comparing this article and the current GotQuestions article, there are too many similarities to ignore them as at least a source, if not the original source for this explanation.
          Thanks for bringing this to my attention. The original has now been attributed. Some 1500 posts were hand copied from the old forum to the new one during our transition a year ago.... seems that a portion was clipped from the original.

          God bless,
          William
          Comment>

            #6
            Originally posted by William View Post

            Thanks for bringing this to my attention. The original has now been attributed. Some 1500 posts were hand copied from the old forum to the new one during our transition one year ago.... seems that a portion was clipped from the original.

            God bless,
            William
            It isn't a current article on Got Questions, as far as I know, but like I said, they're the only ones who have called "bipolar disorder" BD. Whoever wrote this original article had no idea what they were talking about, and I shudder to think how many people they killed as a result.
            Comment>

              #7
              Personally, I have had several doctors refer to being bi-polar as a disorder. While I can understand some may receive such a label as being harsh it doesn't bother me either way. Penguin, have you identified any triggers that seem to aggravate your illness? It seems that social stress contributes to cycling. I deal with it by heavily filtering what I am subjected to day in and out through various media outlets, and I limit the amount of personal engagement and contact. I was just curious whether this is something that others have found or if it is just more aligned with being an introvert?

              God bless,
              William
              Comment>

                #8
                Originally posted by William View Post
                Personally, I have had several doctors refer to being bi-polar as a disorder. While I can understand some may receive such a label as being harsh it doesn't bother me either way. Penguin, have you identified any triggers that seem to aggravate your illness? It seems that social stress contributes to cycling. I deal with it by heavily filtering what I am subjected to day in and out through various media outlets, and I limit the amount of personal engagement and contact. I was just curious whether this is something that others have found or if it is just more aligned with being an introvert?

                God bless,
                William

                I don't particularly care about the semantics. I have bipolar, I am bipolar, it's an illness, it's a disorder, whatever it is, the reality is what it is. I have identified a number of triggers, including social stress. I am an introvert who tends to like being around people, but not necessarily involved with them. I limit my time engaged with others, but I also try to expose myself to more social stress at times, but just enough that I can handle it and learn to cope. It may be an attribute of being an introvert, but being bipolar is where the stress is made worse by the social interaction. For a normal introvert, the experience is simply draining, but it is more immediately stressful and draining for someone with bipolar disorder.
                Comment>

                  #9
                  I have been reading an interesting book by Dr. Mercola , called "Effortless Healing", and one of the parts of the book talks about how important our digestion is to how we think and feel. Shortages of some of the B+vitamins can cause mental illnesses and even dementia, which shows how important it is to not only our physical health, but also for our mental health, to eat the right foods.
                  We usually think of the neuro-transmitters such as serotinin as being manufactured in our brain, and while that is true, it is also true that they are made in our "second brain" which is in our gut and digestive system.

                  Having healthy beneficial bacteria in our intestines is very important.
                  When we eat foods with sugar, or take antibiotics, we disrupt that important balance between healthy bacteria and yeast. Since the yeast feed on sugar, when we eat sweets, then there is a yeast overgrowth and we can get candida, which often has no obvious symptoms, but causes problems. Antibiotics also kill the beneficial bacteria which aids proper digestion and produces B+ vitamins as it digests food.
                  One excellent way to help this condition is to use probiotics.
                  Natural probiotics are found in foods like kefir and sauerkraut. Kefir has a lot more probiotics than yogurt, and making your own kefir at home is totally simple. Just add kefir starter to a quart of milk, and then let it sit and culture for 24 hours, and it is ready to drink.
                  I don't know specifically whether this is helpful for bi-polar; but it seems to me that anything that can help normalize our body is always beneficial for a person to do.
                  The Mercola book "Effortless Healing" is available in the Kindle store for only $2 right now, and it is probably the best $2 that I have ever spent ! I seriously recommend reading this book !

                  Are Probiotics the New Prozac? | Brain-Gut Connection!
                  Last edited by Happyflowerlady; 05-02-2016, 08:43 AM. Reason: accidental post.
                  Comment>

                    #10
                    I certainly have little medical knowledge about BP. However I think that some Psychiatrists have made the mistake of calling adults with ADDHD with BP. We have a son-in-law that was doing fairly well on meds for ADDHD and then the Doctor changed his diagnosis to BP. He is on lithium (hope I spelled it right) and he has become totally out of control. He now does have real episodes of the high and the lows he gets mean to his wife(our daughter) and wants to leave her. Two of the older sons ages 18 and 16 left home because of his anger and mean attitude every couple of weeks. Our daughter feels she is trapped, but loves him. They have been married about 15 years. I think she is at a braking point. He was doing a lot better with his ADDHD meds, but he will not change Doctors and believes he is BP as he is a LPN. Mental Health Doctors often are not Christians (so are much of all doctors) and sadly my son-in-law struggles with unbeliefe much of the time, he no longer goes to church. This is a very sad situation in deed. justme
                    Comment>
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