Church-goers tend to be less depressed

October 24th, 2008 - 3:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Oct 24 (IANS) Church-goers were 30 percent less likely to be depressed in their lifetime than non-church going people, according to a new research.Persons with high levels of existential well-being (sense of meaning and purpose in life) were 70 percent less likely to suffer from depression than their counterparts with lower level of such an outlook.

Researcher Joanna Maselko of Temple University said involvement with the church provides the opportunity for community interaction, which could help forge attachments to others, an important factor in preventing depression.

She characterised 918 participants in terms of three domains, religious service attendance or involvement with church; religious well-being, quality of one’s relationship with Divinity and existential well-being, a person’s sense of meaning and purpose in life, said a press release of Temple University.

Maselko and her researchers compared each domain of religiosity to their risk of depression. They were surprised to find that the group with higher levels of religious well-being were 1.5 times more likely to have had depression than those with lower levels of religious well-being.

Maselko theorised this is because people with depression tend to use religion as a coping mechanism, more closely relating to God and praying more.

“People with high levels of existential well-being tend to have a good base, which makes them very centred emotionally,” said Maselko. “People who don’t have those things are at greater risk for depression, and those same people might also turn to religion to cope.”

These findings were published on-line this month in Psychological Medicine.

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