In January 2012 the American Journal of Psychiatry published an editorial by Dan Blazer, M.D., PhD. The title of the editorial was Religion/Spirituality and Depression: What Can We Learn from Empirical Studies?
For those of you who don’t know, an empirical study is research that collects data by means of observation or experiment. It is NOT opinion and researchers do not draw firm conclusions from any result.
I thought you might be interested in what Blazer has to say.
- Citing a longitudinal study referenced below, he summarizes that “among individuals affiliated as either Protestant or Catholic, subjects who reported religion/spirituality as highly important to them were 76% less likely to experience an episode of major depression during the (10 year) follow-up.”
- In studies of older people, attendance at religious services or activities is more important than having a spiritual attitude.
- In young people, religion or spirituality is described as “moral therapeutic deism.” Moral meaning to be “good and nice.” Therapeutic suggesting being concerned with their own happiness. Deism meaning the view of God as distant.
That last point should be and is a concern for both Catholics and Protestants.
When I researched this topic further I found a textbook I intend to buy. I recommend to all of you who are therapists. It is called, Handbook of Religion and Health. It was published this past February 2012. I found this piece of information very interesting.
- There are 443 studies, 61% finding greater religiosity/spirituality is associated with less depression, predicts faster recovery from depression, and that religious/spiritual interventions reduce depressive symptoms faster compared to secular treatments or controls.
So what is the point?
Research generally indicates faith is relevant to health. For Catholic Christians that means passing on the faith is not just relevant from the standpoint of passing on the Truths of the faith. It is relevant because it has influence on emotional and physical health in general. Researchers recognize faith’s value, find it worthy of study, and then admit, and I quote Blazer here, “some mystery remains as to what we are actually measuring.” It seems to me that we need to continue working to integrate our faith with treatment and prevention. And we need to tell our youth that religion is not obsolete.
Depression is a physical, emotional, social, and spiritual condition.
Blazer, Dan. Religion/Spirituallity and Depression: What Can We Learn From Empirical Studies? Am J Psychiatry2012; 169: 10-12.
Miller L; Wickramaratne P; Gameroff MJ; Sage M; Tenke CE; Weissman MM: Religiosity and Major Depression in Adults at High Risk: a Ten-year Prospective Study. Am J Psychiatry 2012; 169:89-94.