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Faith and Depression: The Truth About Depression and Religion

March 24, 2017 - - 0 Comments

Faith and DepressionChristian depression treatment centers have long realized the value of faith or spirituality not only in the treatment of depression but in ensuring long-term healing as well. Both men and women depression are characterized by the experience of various negative emotions such as feelings of worthlessness, lack of purpose, helplessness, loneliness, anxiety, and emptiness. All these intense emotions that overwhelm individuals who are suffering from depression can be summed up in one category – feelings of hopelessness.

What virtue best counters hopelessness or despair? Faith. Believing in a Higher Power much greater than oneself who cares and directs the lives of people for the better is an effective antidote for depression. Numerous studies reveal that faith, particularly belief in God, is directly related to better treatment outcomes and those suffering from depression with no belief in God is twice likely to not respond to treatment.

How Does Faith Help Individuals Suffering from Depression?

Many individuals can attest that their practice of faith or religion has helped them immensely in their recovery journey. Apart from positively influencing treatment outcomes, a major study of US women also revealed that the more women participate and attend religious services the lower the risk of incidence of women depression.

Here are the ways faith aid people with depression:

  • Faith provides inner strength. As mentioned earlier, faith is a natural line of defense against feelings of despair because the primary effect of faith is hope. Depressed individuals can derive inner strength from their religious beliefs that can help them carry on with their treatment. A belief in God provides hope and consolation that things will eventually get better.
  • Faith changes the physiology of your brain. There are studies that observe cortical thinning in specific regions of the brain of adults who are at high-risk for major depression.

Different studies and many types of research show that the structure of the brain of religious persons who are actively practicing their faith significantly changes. The researcher discovered thickening of the brain cortex among religious individuals, which is a good sign considering that experts observe the opposite – people who are at high-risk for major depression experience cortical thinning in specific regions of the brain.

  • Faith provides role models who can greatly inspire people. The Christian faith provides many heroes or saints who suffered greatly from persecution, abandonment, and martyrdom. To say that the ordeals they went through are difficult would be a serious understatement. A religious person who is suffering from depression can learn from the experiences of Christian heroes. Moreover, they can draw strength from their stories knowing that God will never abandon or forget them. Knowing actual people who went through an unbelievable amount of pain and suffering and yet able to overcome all the odds can inspire depressed individuals to fight their own battles.
  • Faith provides an effective support system during treatment and after recovery. Religious people who frequently attend church services have a stable support system that can significantly help them receive and complete necessary treatment. Apart from helping individuals who are already suffering from depression, many types of research also show that people who attend religious services regularly are less likely to suffer from depression as well as substance abuse disorder.
  • Faith gives suffering a deeper meaning. It goes without saying that depressed individuals are suffering greatly, more so internally. Depressed individuals who cling on to their faith that suffering has value can better accept and eventually better themselves.

Atheists and non-believers can always discredit the relevance and impact of faith in overcoming depression. Nevertheless, results of studies and actual experiences of people who suffered and overcame depression serve as compelling pieces of evidence that show the positive contributions of faith and religion in helping people to cope, overcome, and prevent falling prey to depression again.

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