Bible Answer

Christians dealing with panic attacks

I am a relatively new Christian, but I have been dealing with panic attacks for many years. I have been on medications to control the attacks, but recently they are coming back. I pray to the Lord and I know the Lord is in control, but I can't seem to stop the anxiety. What should a Christian do?

Though VBVMI is not qualified to provide personal counseling services, we can offer some general biblical guidance for your situation. 

First, we believe your recent relationship with Christ is a key detail in your situation, because when a person enters into an abiding relationship with Christ (either as a new believer or a believer who has returned from a period of rebellion or neglect), they may experience attacks from the enemy. The demonic realm is under orders by Satan to inhibit the walk of believers, and anxiety is a key weapon:

1Pet. 5:6  Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 
1Pet. 5:7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. 
1Pet. 5:8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 

Notice Peter reassures the believer that the Lord will exalt us only at the proper time, which means only when the Lord has determined He is ready to raise us above our circumstances. The Lord’s timing is a matter of His purposes in growing us through trials so we may become more holy and pleasing to Him. Obviously, Peter is primarily referring to the Lord bringing us into glory in Heaven, but even now in our present circumstances the Lord calls upon believers to cast our anxieties upon the Lord. 

Peter is not saying we shouldn’t feel anxiety for this would be impossible. All human begins feel anxiety to some extent. Peter is telling us not to act according to our anxiety, for when we do so we become vulnerable to the schemes of the enemy. Hebrews says that fear is a primary weapon of the enemy:

Heb. 2:14 Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 
Heb. 2:15 and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. 

Fear leads to a form of slavery to the devil, who brings to mind fears that are no longer true for the believer. Notice that Peter couples his instructions concerning anxiety with a call for the believer to be of sober spirit. Sober means not under the influence of something, and in this context Peter is speaking about the debilitating influence of anxiety, worry, fear and the like. When we allow such feelings to drive our behaviors, we become victims of the enemy, who preys on anxieties to arrest our progress in walking with the Lord. In that sense, he devours us. 

Obviously, we know your situation is more severe, and we are not suggesting your can simply “will” your way out of your panic attacks. Still, we believe that as your Christian walk matures (by the washing of the word) you will become less enslaved by these fears.

The Lord Himself will strengthen you as you grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. In other words, devote yourself to becoming someone who knows the Lord’s word and seeks to follow it, and leave the rest to Christ. You will undoubtedly continue to experience an attack from time to time, but we are convinced that you will see these things fade away as you obtain the mind of Christ by His word.

Finally, we recommend you seek a godly, biblical counselor who can walk with you through this time. Hopefully, in time your doctor may limit or eliminate your medications, as these treatments may be worse than the disease. Nevertheless, seek proper medical advice before taking or ending any course of treatment.