Can Religion Help with Depression
For many people, their religion defines them. It is an essential aspect of their lives that leads them to what is right and true. It may be difficult to comprehend, but religion is the only way for some people to survive. They believe that only through their faith are they able to overcome any problems, including the idea that religion can help with depression.
People struggling with depression usually turn to their religion to seek enlightenment and peace. They assume that their suffering is a result of a lack of faith or God is testing them. Furthermore, they learn that when they seek divine guidance and strengthen their faith, no problem is too big.
Religion and Depression
Whether you are a Catholic or a Protestant, your religion has become your guiding light on how to deal with your mental problems. When your problems start to burden you, you go to confession, thinking it will lighten your feelings. When you feel lost and depressed, you immediately seek advice from your spiritual leader.
However, depression is not just a feeling that you can treat with prayers. Depression is a brain disorder. Common cause of it genetic, environmental, and biochemical factors. If left untreated with therapies or medications, it would get worse and happen more frequently. It weakens you and can gyrate into more complicated issues, affecting your physical health. It is always advised that you seek medical help if depression symptoms persist for a significant period of time.
According to studies, having one or both depressed parents is one of the most significant factors for major depressive disorder (MDD). Interestingly, “some offspring with familial depression do not develop MDD, whereas others with no family history of depression develop it.” Hence, scientists and experts are looking at other predisposing factors other than genetics.
One of the factors they focus on is religiosity and spirituality. This longitudinal prospective study showed the important role religion plays in the occurrence of depression in a person. According to one of their findings “religiosity/spirituality may confer resilience to the development/recurrence of depressive episodes in individuals in general and in ones with high risk in specific. This resiliency is maybe a result of the relationship between religiosity and a thicker cortex, efficient macro-structure and connections, or better blood flow to brain areas implicated in depression.”
Religious people make sure that what they do, think, and say is based on God’s teachings. The need to always show kindness to other people can positively affect the brain’s functions. So, “if a religion advocates compassion, the neural circuits involved in thinking about compassion become stronger.” When this becomes your way of life, you can easily determine and identify the things that cause you stress and anxiety. As a result, you safeguard your mental health because you only welcome positive emotions.
Another study published in 2005, discovered that “religiousness buffered against depression associated with poor physical health, with highest levels of depression observed in the low-religiousness-poor-physical-health group.” A 2013 study showed that people diagnosed with depression and anxiety responded better to their treatments because of their strong faith in God.
More studies are still needed to figure out exactly how religion can help a person with depression. Or how it can protect you from developing any symptoms. One possible reason is that people who are religious cope better with stress. These people know that their lives have a purpose and a meaning. They are willing to take all the steps necessary to serve God and fulfill their mission. In addition, they often belong to a solid community that gives them support and guidance whenever they have problems.
Some religions encourage their members to refrain from drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, or using illegal substances. Staying away from this unhealthy behavior can improve your overall physical and mental health.
While it is true that religion can help with depression, there are other aspects of it that may endanger one’s mental health. People who are struggling with depression may not seek treatments because they will think that it is God’s way of punishing them. When they face big problems and feel that God abandons them, they will likely suffer greater emotional distress.
This is why in-depth studies should be conducted to clearly determine the impact of religion on one’s mental health. It should be investigated how religion helps improve depression treatments. There are still so many questions surrounding religion and depression, and it is exciting to think that there can be another way to fight depression.
Depression and Treatments
Depression should be addressed right away and managed well. Regardless of its causes, you need to find effective ways on how to handle it, especially if it starts to become a nuisance in your life. Mindshift Psychological Services provides therapy and counseling sessions for depression and anxiety. Contact us at (714) 584-9700 to know more about our services and programs. Let us help you or your loved ones start a journey towards wellness.