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Religion and Mental Health: How Religion Helps with Depression

Religion and Mental Health

 

Many studies suggest that religion can help with depression as it is a way to have meaning and purpose in life. When we put things into perspective, the link between religion and mental health is not in any way farfetched.

 

How Religion Helps with Depression

Sense of loss, hopelessness, despair, low self-worth and lack of purpose characterize depression. Although depression is quite complex and can be caused by several factors, including genetic, environmental, psychological, and physical, the last two are the most significant contributors. Environmental and psychological factors involve family, economic, and social challenges. Religion fundamentally addresses these three things.

For example, for someone battling depression due to family issues, money, or loneliness, religious gatherings can neutralize such challenges through comfort and acceptance. Places of worship are known to offer an aura of belonging, as you'd find amongst friends and family.

 

The Role of Religion and Spirituality in Mental Health

Every religion has its belief system, which ultimately has implications on mental health. For example, Islam and Christianity are founded on faith, that everyone has a purpose and is loved by the Creator. This knowledge can be a coping mechanism for someone feeling hopeless and devoid of purpose.

What about stress and anxiety? Most popular religions provide much-needed guidelines to help their believers cope with stress and worries. For example, Christianity advocates a sense of calm even when experiencing doubt or challenges, having faith that things will work out one way or another.

Some people have also experienced family conflicts, the loss of a loved one, or even abuse, leading to anxiety and depression. In many ways, religious families are often an environment where victims can seek solace and support. Of course, such personal connection is essential to navigating mental health issues. In many ways, religion is a place where any depressed or anxious person can find identity and comfort.

Religious people are less susceptible to depression because spirituality offers them a sense of purpose, identity, and community.

 

The Religiosity Gap

Notably, most past studies on spirituality and religion are primarily based on clinical experience and personal opinions. That's perhaps because of the religiosity gap between mental health professionals and patients.

Most healthcare providers tend to be less religious than the general population and do not possess adequate training to analyze religion in association with clinical practice. When psychiatric patients report using religious beliefs and experiences to cope, such data is naturally biased. But if patients can tell us what is helping them cope, who are we to say they aren't getting the help they need or that their claims are false?

 

Religion and Mental Health Research Shows a Positive Link

Notwithstanding, these reports have aroused the curiosity of researchers in recent times. They have gone ahead to carry out scientific investigations on the relationship between religion and mental health. Since then, many researchers have produced a large body of research that shows a positive relationship between religion and mental health.

Perhaps, religious practices may need to keep up with the fast-paced world we live in to better cater to the emerging issues people face.

Author
Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Hope Mental Health, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults.  Ms. Woodland with her background in nursing, prefers a holistic and integrative approach to mental health care that addresses the mind and body together. While Ms. Woodland provides medication management services in all her patients, she believes in long-lasting solutions that include a number of psychotherapies, namely cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure and response prevention therapy, attention to lifestyle, evidenced based alternative psychiatric care and spirituality. If you’d like to gain control over your mental health issues, call Hope Mental Health at 208-918-0958, or use the online scheduling tool to set up an initial consultation.

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