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.

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).