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Strength and Comfort Through Scripture

Faith and Bipolar Disorder

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Updated December 14, 2012

A reader recently asked me to write something about how religion helps people cope with bipolar disorder. She wondered what particular scriptures people have found most helpful.

Faith is uniquely personal. Some people have none; others take it to extremes. For some, it means a once-a-week service; for others, it is a central part of their daily lives; for still others — well, it would be wrong for me even to try to list the ways faith can operate in the lives of individuals.

Some of those who struggle with bipolar disorder find that their faith helps them cope. While religiosity can become exaggerated for some (see notes at end), religious beliefs can and often do provide solace and strength, especially during depression.

Thus, the best place for me to turn for answers is to you, my readers. I asked some of you to share the passages from such books as the Bible's Old and New Testaments, the Psalms, and the Quran (Koran) that you find particularly valuable. I present them here in hopes that these words will be of help to those of faith who are struggling.

Coping With Bipolar Through Faith: Scriptures Meaningful to Readers

Dana: (Surah Ash-Sharh [Inshirah], 94:5-6) "5. Verily, with every hardship there is relief." This is repeated in the 6th verse: "Verily, with every hardship there is relief. God does not give us more than we can handle, and seeing that relief and ease is promised gives me much hope and faith."

Also, the 19th Chapter in the Quran, named "Maryam" (the mother of Jesus) is one of my favorite Chapters, because it shows the strength of a woman, a miracle, and how they all endured suffering in some point of their lives and yet they remained righteous and noble people. It's truly amazing.

'Nita: Philippians 4:13 says it all for me: "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me." I can get through anything because He is with me. Angel also chose this passage, saying, "This always gives me renewed strength when I feel like I can't go on another step."

John: Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in Jehovah with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. and he himself will set your path straight." (Lisa, below, also chose this passage, but from a different version of the Psalms, so I listed it separately.)

Aranka and Tracey: Joshua 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Tracy adds, "This scripture is my rock because it reminds that there is a higher plan for my life despite being bipolar."

Angel: When I feel like I am in my darkest hour, Psalm 23 comforts me. This psalm has always been very special to me, even as a child. [Text of Psalm 23, which begins "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want."]

Lisa: I have always prayed with my boys and prayed Proverbs 3:5-6 where it says, "Trust in The Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding but in all thy ways acknowledge him and he will direct thy path." I used to ask God why I have such a terrible illness. Now I thank Him that it's not something worse!

Tiana: Psalm 103:3 "Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits--who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases." Also Isaiah 41:10 "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

Connie: 2 Timothy 1:7 "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."

Shavanna: Deuteronomy 31:8 "And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed."

Emma: All of Psalm 139. [Text of this Psalm]

Daleen: What helps me is to read Isaiah 43:1-5. It helps me to see myself through God's eyes and to know what He thinks of me. Boost my self-esteem. [Text of Isaiah 43:1-7.]

Faith vs. Religiosity and Religious Delusions

As I wrote in Religious Factors in Bipolar Disorder, bipolar disorder can increase a person's involvement in religious activities, and in Christian countries particularly, religious delusions affect around one-fifth of patients with schizophrenia (numbers are not available for patients with bipolar psychosis). But these possible symptoms don't invalidate faith. As my article mentioned, friends, family members and doctors should be particularly concerned when religious beliefs become delusional. For many, faith is indeed valuable in coping with bipolar illness.

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