Why do I suffer from Anxiety when I am a practicing Christian?
Many Christians feel ashamed to experience anxiety or do not believe they would if they would be better practicing Christians.
The Christian faith has many great resources described in the bible, but it doesn't mean that there may not be additional resources such as therapy that can help when anxiety becomes clinical. Anxiety, depression, and social isolation are all forms of cognitive distortions; or thoughts and beliefs that go unnoticed, that falsely changes the way we think.
These distortions are often misunderstood as ‘stress’ or ‘over-thinking’ but rather there is a distinct difference between the sin of anxiety and mental health disorders like anxiety.
Did you know that according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America
- Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S. It affects 40 million adults age 18 and older; this also amounts to 18.1% of the population ever single year.
- Anxiety disorders develop from many different risk factors including genetics, personality, brain chemistry, and even life events.
- Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, however only 36.9% of people seek treatment.
Whether we are Christian or not does not change the battle of keeping our bodies and thoughts healthy. There is great freedom and strength in pushing aside the ‘judgment’, ‘shame’, and ‘flaws’ of being imperfect and getting help to control these distortions.
Christian counselors are trained to help those address emotional and relational concerns at a clinical level, while also following Christian values. many pastors and priests refer to Christian counselors when they believe their parishioner would benefit from a little extra support from a professional.
In our busy world, we often put too much onto our plates, and this is when anxiety begins to creep in. As we take on problems of other people and the world around us, trying to stay on top; our bodies often don’t know how to manage all the pressure and shuts down in ways we wouldn’t expect. God has designed our imperfect bodies to Be Still and reflect; rest in the presence of God, prioritize him and listen to what our bodies need.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, today’s treatments for mental illness are 70% to 90% effective for reducing symptoms and improving quality of life. They also indicate that early identification and action is extremely important as it reduces the risk of further harm to the brain.
How does a Christian counselor help with anxiety?
1. Uses clinical models such as CBT and solutions focused therapy, both researc and evidence based.
One of the most effective forms of mental health therapy for anxiety is CBT or Cognitive behavioral therapy. CBT is a fancy way of saying thoughts affect actions; so, changing your thoughts, will change behaviors and actions. The basis of this idea, however, is that our thoughts determine our feelings, and our feelings determine our actions. Therefore, our thoughts are where it all begins.
Changing these thoughts, while it may seem like an easy task, can be quite difficult. It involves paying attention and being aware of each thought we have in order to determine if it is serving us in a healthy way. Then redirecting the thought if it is not. It is a tedious and conscious action that we must make minute by minute.
2. May use biblical scriptures to support the therapeutic process.
While the bible does talk a lot about worry and sadness, I don’t believe that it is meant to shame, but rather normalize it among society and show its prevalence even 2,000 years ago and all over the world too.
In most of the verses within the Bible pertaining to mental health, changing our thoughts and actions is a repeated theme. These feelings of fear and hopelessness are bound to return, but it is this process of healing that we continue to choose again and again. Gradually, we can train our brain to release these fearful thoughts and cognitive distortions and hold onto the thoughts of hope and serenity.
3. Will have different kinds of conversations than the ones you've had with your pastor/priest/friends and family in order to promote change.
As a non-bias professional, counselors can offer new perspectives, advice, and information from a non-judgmental place. Often times, when we seek advice from family, friends, or a pastor/priest, we are offered bias information for how they believe we should heal or offer advice that may only be fit for them. Professional can offer many different perspectives, that are research based, evidence based, and tailored specifically to you and your journey. Together, we can create a non-judgmental environment to work.
Your Therapy Friend,
Sofia Robirosa is the owner of Infinite Therapeutic Services and is a Perinatal & Relationships Expert. She offers individual, couples, and family counseling to individuals seeking to enhance their relationship with their children and significant other. Her private practice is located in Plantation, FL. She attended Nova Southeastern University for both her Bachelor and Master Degrees in Marriage and Family Therapy and in Business Administration. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, a Perinatal Mental Health Certified Professional, and a Leader in Active Parenting for children and teens. She loves her family, which consists of her husband, daughter and son, and two dogs. Some of her interests outside of work include spending time outdoors, traveling, and dining. Read more about her at: www.plantationcounseling.com and follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/infinitetherapy/