Psychiatric Anxiety and Biblical Anxiety

There are psychiatric disorders medical doctors call anxiety disorders. Then there is anxiety defined by the Bible as a spiritual matter. They can be comorbid and intertwined but are not inherently the same. One thing you must always remember is that you were bought with a price and you are not your own. Thus, you have a Master who is concerned and will care for you.

Psychiatry’s Focus is on Organic Causes

Psychiatry is focused on organic causes for what the Diagnostic Statistic Manual 5th Edition considers clinical anxiety disorders. These maladies are diagnosed by groupings of criteria and then classified into categories. The most severe anxiety disorders are due to chemical imbalances in the brain. They are treatable but not always curable. On the other hand, biblical anxiety is curable if the inflicted follows the spiritual model to be remedied. Before we delved into the anxieties the Bible will heal, we first will consider the complex issues of the organic psychiatric disorders, anxiety disorders.

Organic Anxiety Disorders are by Natural Phenomenon

Organic means the disorder is caused by some natural phenomenon. In the case of anxiety disorders the issue is due to a chemical imbalance in the brain. Neurotransmitters normally carry messages through electrical impulses across what are called the synapses. Serotonin is the hormonal chemistry that allows the communications between cells in the brain. When the neurons do not fire correctly due to an imbalance of serotonin, it affects our entire body, especially our moods, to include our fight or flight system – otherwise known as anxiety. Hence, the DSM category for anxiety disorders.

DSM V Categories of Anxiety Disorders

The Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Disorders has several diverse types of anxieties listed in its manual. The National Institute of Mental Health provides the following as a summary of some of the more common examples of clinical anxiety disorders.[1]

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

People with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) display excessive anxiety or worry, most days for at least 6 months, about several things such as personal health, work, social interactions, and everyday routine life circumstances. “The fear and anxiety can cause significant problems in areas of their life, such as social interactions, school, and work.” (“NIMH » Anxiety Disorders”)

Generalized anxiety disorder symptoms include:

  • Feeling restless, wound-up, or on-edge
  • Being easily fatigued
  • Having difficulty concentrating; mind going blank
  • Being irritable
  • Having muscle tension
  • Difficulty controlling feelings of worry
  • “Having sleep problems, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, restlessness, or unsatisfying sleep” (“NIMH » Anxiety Disorders”)

Panic Disorder

People with panic disorder have recurrent unexpected panic attacks. Panic attacks are sudden periods of intense fear that come on quickly and reach their peak within minutes. Attacks can occur unexpectedly or can be brought on by a trigger, such as a feared object or situation.

During a panic attack, people may experience:

  • Heart palpitations, a pounding heartbeat, or an accelerated heartrate
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Sensations of shortness of breath, smothering, or choking
  • Feelings of impending doom
  • Feelings of being out of control

People with panic disorder often worry about when the next attack will happen and actively try to prevent future attacks by avoiding places, situations, or behaviors they associate with panic attacks. Worry about panic attacks, and the effort spent trying to avoid attacks, cause significant problems in various areas of the person’s life, including the development of agoraphobia (see below).

 

phobia is an intense fear of—or aversion to—specific objects or situations. Although it can be realistic to be anxious in some circumstances, the fear people with phobias feel is out of proportion to the actual danger caused by the situation or object. (“NIMH » Anxiety Disorders”)

People with a phobia:

  • “May have an irrational or excessive worry about encountering the feared object or situation” (“NIMH » Anxiety Disorders”)
  • Take active steps to avoid the feared object or situation
  • “Experience immediate intense anxiety upon encountering the feared object or situation” (“NIMH » Anxiety Disorders”)
  • Endure unavoidable objects and situations with intense anxiety

There are several types of phobias and phobia-related disorders:

Specific Phobias (sometimes called simple phobias): As the name suggests, people who have a specific phobia have an intense fear of, or feel intense anxiety about, specific types of objects or situations. Some examples of specific phobias include the fear of:

  • Flying
  • Heights
  • Specific animals, such as spiders, dogs, or snakes
  • Receiving injections
  • Blood

Social anxiety disorder (previously called social phobia): People with social anxiety disorder have a general intense fear of, or anxiety toward, social or performance situations. They worry that actions or behaviors associated with their anxiety will be negatively evaluated by others, leading them to feel embarrassed. This worry often causes people with social anxiety to avoid social situations. Social anxiety disorder can manifest in a range of situations, such as within the workplace or the school environment. (“NIMH » Anxiety Disorders”)

Agoraphobia: People with agoraphobia have an intense fear of two or more of the following situations:

  • Using public transportation
  • Being in open spaces
  • Being in enclosed spaces
  • Standing in line or being in a crowd
  • Being outside of the home alone

People with agoraphobia often avoid these situations, in part, because they think being able to leave might be difficult or impossible in the event they have panic-like reactions or other embarrassing symptoms. In the most severe form of agoraphobia, an individual can become housebound.

Separation anxiety disorder: Separation anxiety is often thought of as something that only children deal with; however, adults can also be diagnosed with separation anxiety disorder. People who have separation anxiety disorder have fears about being parted from people to whom they are attached. They often worry that some sort of harm or something untoward will happen to their attachment figures while they are separated. This fear leads them to avoid being separated from their attachment figures and to avoid being alone. People with separation anxiety may have nightmares about being separated from attachment figures or experience physical symptoms when separation occurs or is anticipated. (“NIMH » Anxiety Disorders”)

Anxiety which has an organic cause has treatments and coping mechanisms available. You might consider researching of these at the www.nimh.gov.

One Final Observation About Clinical Anxiety

Before we discuss Biblical Anxiety, it is noteworthy to point out that all the afore categories of anxieties and phobias are fear based. The Bible addresses fears. Since the Bible does address fears, it has a role in care for individuals suffering with clinical anxiety. The Bible is all-sufficient to help all people, always, and in God’s ways. Now we turn to talk about anxiety from the vantage point of the Bible.

Biblical Anxiety

Let us begin by chopping at the root of it all. Fear. All anxieties are fear based. I am going to ask if you will indulge with me in a brief reading of Scripture. Hear what Jesus says about Jesus in Matthew 6.

“Therefore I say unto you, Be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than the food, and the body than the raiment? 26Behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not ye of much more value than they? 27And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit unto the measure of his life? 28And why are ye anxious concerning raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30But if God doth so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31Be not therefore anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32For after all these things do the Gentiles seek; for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34Be not therefore anxious for the morrow: for the morrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” [2]

Now, if we were to substitute the word anxiety with the word fear and read it again, how would it sound? Yes, that is correct. We do not have to fret with fear over where we are going get a set of clothes. Perhaps, we will miss a meal but no we will not perish with hunger. Even so, isn’t there something more important than food on the table and a nice shirt and jeans to wear on Sunday morning? God feeds the birds, doesn’t He? He does. You know you are more valuable to the LORD of life than the birds. Those little creatures were made to serve us. We are higher up than they are in the eyes of God. “Be not therefore fearful, saying, “What shall we eat? Or what shall we drink? Or Wherewithal shall we be clothed?” You are a child of God. Worldly people worry and fret anxiously over worldly things. You have been set free from the world. You are clothed in Christ. I am going to tell you three secrets to having peace of mind from Philippians chapter four.

Three Secrets to a Peace of Mind

  1. Always rejoice in the Lord, Philippians 4:4.
  2. Always think on true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, reputationally and praiseworthy things, Philippians 4:8.
  3. Always follow through with the things you have learned from the scriptures and Do Them, Philippians 4:9.

“….and the God of peace shall be with you.” (4:9)

Fact: Christians Suffer, Do Not Be Anxious About It

Jesus forewarned the disciples, “And when they bring you before the synagogues, and the rulers, and the authorities, be not anxious how or what ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: 12for the Holy Spirit shall teach you in that very hour what ye ought to say” (Luke 12:11-12 ASV). It is very possible that life will be miserable for you for some measurable amount of time. It is times like these that we must remember Job. And the words Paul wrote once again to the Philippians come to mind, “I can do all things through him that strengtheneth me. 14 Howbeit ye did well that ye had fellowship with my affliction” (Phil. 4:12-13). As disciples of Christ, you and I always have hope to abound.

Hope of the Holy Spirit

“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:13) Whomever will deny the power of this verse blasphemes the Holy Spirit and quenches the hope He provides. I will not quarrel over this because the Holy Spirit inspires Paul to forbid disputes amongst brothers (1 Timothy 2:8). The clear point of this message is that God fills you with joy and peace in your belief, so that you may abound in hope in the power of the Holy Spirit. People could banter the operation of the Holy Spirit from now to Judgement and miss the entire discuss at hand. Here is the point: Number one: The Holy Spirit has power. Number two: Because of the Holy Spirit’s power, you may abound in hope. Number three: the God of hope fills you with all joy and peace because you believe. Period. Now, since you have this power what room is there in your heart to fret, worry, or be fearful? Jesus calls us to Himself.

Jesus’ Remedy

Listen to Jesus’s remedy calling you.

28Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. [3]

This is a Short List of The Matters God Will Help You on Your Journey to Be Anxiety Free

First, I want to note that the Bible is concerned about spiritual ailment, not necessarily a chemical imbalance in the brain. But the Bible does help us cope with all kinds of anxieties. With that in mind I urge you to do the following.

  1. Adhere to Jesus’ call to mercy. He is waiting to soothe your anxieties.
  2. Trust in God’s Power to give you hope. Hope will reactivate the positive energy in your thinking processes.
  3. Leave the past in the past. There is enough to be concerned about today so do not get swallowed up by the yesterdays and yester-years.
  4. Forgive and Let Go. Whether you are having trouble forgive yourself for something God has already had grace on, or if it is something you are holding a grudge over. Its simply not worth the pain. The agony in your heart will eat you alive. Forgive and let it go.
  5. Do not pretend you are a prophet with a crystal ball. The future is a mystery in God’s time. Today is the day of your salvation. Rejoice and be glad in it.
  6. Train your spiritual mind to be in tune with the mind of Jesus.
  7. Rest in the comfort of Father God, who is the God of all comfort and mercy (2 Co 1:3).
  8. Finally, rest in the powerful hope of the hope of the Holy Spirit.

These have only been a few of the methods the Bible uses to address anxiety. Time has limited us. Lord willing, we will produce more podcasts and articles on the topic.

God bless your day.

Donny Weimar

November 8, 2021

Please visit www.ChristianWithBipolar.com


[1] https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders

[2] American Standard Version. (1995). (Mt 6:25–34). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[3] Ibid. (Mt 11:28–30).

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