Thursday, October 25, 2012

Religious Faith and Coping with Depression

Depression is a major public health problem.  Based on a joint study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health and WHO, depression was the leading cause of disability in the world (measured by years of life lived with disability) in 1990 and, in 2020, is expected to be the world’s second leading cause of disability, surpassed only by cardiovascular disease. See the following website at Duke University to view the ongoing study of religious versus conventional psychotherapy methods being used in treating depression:

This article of ongoing research in this field strongly suggests that since recent polls have shown that some 65% of the United States’ population indicates that religion is very important to them, and since some 80% of those suffering from depression would like for their therapists to use religious approaches in helping them to deal with their depression, that it is important for therapists to include such methodologies in treating depression in person’s of faith.  Former studies have already shown that one’s religious beliefs may be a real help in coping with depression.

In a book by Dr. Koenig of Duke University, he says the following: “Most of the adult population of the US experiences personal or emotional problems at some point or another during the course of a year. . . In any given month of the year, about 10-15 percent of the population suffers from depression or anxiety severe enough to warrant some form of treatment. Is there a relationship between these emotional problems and religion?  Does religion help people to cope better?

Between 1987 and 1989, our research group examined the relationship between the use of religion as a coping behavior and depression in a sample of almost 1,000 hospitalized medically ill men. . . . People who used religion as a coping behavior were then compared with those who said they coped in other ways (staying busy, visiting friends or family, and so forth).  Patients who depended heavily on their religious faith to cope were significantly less depressed than those who did not. . . . The only characteristic that predicted lower rates of depression was not the level of support from family or friends, not physical health status, and not even income or education level.  Rather, it was the extent to which patients relied on their religious faith to cope.  This was the only factor that predicted significantly better mental health six months later.  These findings were later published in the American Journal of Psychiatry and in Psychosomatics.”   Is Religion Good for Your Health?  (Harold G. Koenig, MD, Duke University Medical Center)

To what extent do you depend upon your faith to cope with physical or mental illness?  More and more studies are indicating that one’s religious faith may play a vital role in such coping.  Yours for a happier and healthier tomorrow.

-- Wayne Young

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Religion and Your Health
Over the past couple of decades there have been many studies showing that religion has a positive benefit for those desiring better health.  The following two paragraphs are quoted from the January 2010 issue of Vibrant Life online edition which may be found at for those who would like to read the entire article.
"One of the first studies to examine the specific pathways by which religion affects health was done by Dr. Harold Koenig, a researcher at Duke University Medical Center. In a study of 1,718 older adults in North Carolina who attended church at least once a week, he found they were only half as likely as nonattendees to have elevated levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6), an immune system protein involved in a wide variety of age-related diseases. It was hypothesized that if religious commitment could reduce stress, it would keep down the production of substances that impair the body’s ability to fight disease. One such substance was to be determined IL-6. Dr. Koenig’s findings were reported in a 1997 article in the Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine.
Koenig says he has run the numbers and found that religious people spend less time in the hospital, are healthier, recover faster, have fewer heart attacks, and generally handle life’s ups and downs in more positive ways. Other studies report that religious people tend to live 30 percent longer and experience better physical and mental health. They also have better marriages, use addictive substances less, and have stronger support systems. Even the skeptics, he says, should pay attention to his latest findings because of the practical results in terms of savings for insurance companies and hospitals. He advises that doctors need to factor in the patient’s religious beliefs and use their faith to help them recover."

Yours for better health!

-- Wayne Young