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

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