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PEACE IN A PILL OR PERSON

Do you know what Prozac, Paxil, Celexa, Zoloft and Lexapro all have in common? They are "selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors" (SSRI's for short). If you're still stumped, they are all anti-depressants (THE TENNESSEAN, Tuesday 19/16/03: "Happy pills, quick fixes, or cure-alls?" by Darla Carter). America may be the land of prosperity, but she is also a land of pressures, problems and paranoia. A man named Richard Lewis may have spoken for millions when he said, "I'm paranoid. On my stationary bike, I have a rearview mirror" (9/03 Reader's Digest. p 113). To deal with our problems and paranoia, doctors are prescribing antidepressants in record-breaking numbers, and Americans are swallowing them. Bruce Tucker, preacher for the Rainbow church of Christ in Gadsden, AL, reports that over I I million Americans take anti-depressants. He points out that the popular drug Prozac is considered to be so safe that in January 2003, the FDA gave doctors the okay to prescribe it for depressed children as young as 7 (see "Peace in a Pill?" by Bruce Tucker, The Rainbow Beacon, Thursday 3/6/03, p 3). In 1997, 6.3 million people received outpatient treatment for depression. Since it was approved for use in the USA in 1987, Prozac alone has been used by more than 40 million people worldwide.

The point of this brief article is not to question whether or not there are times and cases when people become depressed for physiological and/or psychological reasons to the point they need professional help and prescriptions which can help relieve anxiety, depression and related problems. There clearly are. But the growing belief that peace can be and therefore automatically should be prescribed in a pill is flawed and ought to be questioned, especially by Christians. Christians freely admit life is filled with pain. Jesus Himself, the night before suffering the excruciating and life-ending stress of the cross, told His disciples in John 16:33, "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." A little earlier in John 14:27 He spoke of a kind of peace no pill can produce when He said, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." Study these statements carefully and you discover a peace that is dependent, not upon a mood-enhancing or moodaltering drug, not upon perfect circumstances or a problem-free life, but upon the presence of Him whom the Bible describes as "the Prince of Peace." The peace of God which surpasses understanding Is available to all people, but. not in a pill. It is available only in and through the Person of God's Son.

Dan Gulley
Smithvile church of Christ