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Discuss the relationship between mental illness and religion

Discuss the relationship between mental illness and religion

Discuss the relationship between mental illness and religion
QUESTION
Discuss the relationship between mental illness and religion
Discuss the relationship between mental illness and religion

ANSWER
Depression and religion

Adult studies have revealed significant and inverse relationships between levels of religiosity and depressive disorders.

8,14 As life stress increases, religious factors become more powerful.

15 Before 2000, more than 100 quantitative studies examined the relationships between religion and depression, according to Koenig and colleagues8. Two-thirds of 93 observational studies found lower rates of depressive disorder and fewer depressive symptoms in people who were more religious. Only four of the 34 studies that did not find a similar relationship found that being religious was associated with higher levels of depression. In 15 of 22 longitudinal studies, higher religiousness predicted milder symptoms and faster remission at follow-up.

Smith and colleagues14 performed a meta-analysis of 147 studies involving nearly 100,000 participants. In stressed populations, the average inverse correlation between religious involvement and depression was 20.1, increasing to 0.15. Religion has been shown to improve remission in patients suffering from medical and psychiatric diseases who have developed depression. 16,17 The vast majority of these studies have focused on Christianity; research on other religious groups is lacking. According to some studies, Jews have a higher prevalence of depression. 18

Depression is important to treat not only for the emotional distress it causes, but also for the increased risk of suicide. Researchers looked for a link between religion and suicide in a systematic review of 68 studies. 8 57 of these studies found that the more religious had fewer suicides or more negative attitudes toward suicide. A recent Canadian cross-sectional study found that religious attendance was associated with fewer suicide attempts in the general population and in those with mental illnesses, regardless of the effects of social supports. 19 Religious teachings may help prevent suicide, but so do social support, comfort, and meaning derived from religious belief.

Recent research suggests that the relationship between religion and depression is more complex than previously thought. Religious beliefs and variables are not always associated with improved mental health. Religion or spirituality and depression may be affected by factors such as denomination, race, gender, and religious coping styles. 20,21 Higher depression scores are associated with negative religious coping (being angry with God, feeling let down), endorsing negative support from the religious community, and loss of faith. 22 “It is not enough to know that the individual prays, attends church, or watches religious television,” write Pargament and colleagues23(p521). Religious coping measures should specify how the individual uses religion to understand and deal with stressors.”

Few studies have looked specifically at the connection between spirituality and depression. Spirituality (rather than religion) may be associated with higher rates of depression in some cases. 24 On the other hand, there is a significant negative relationship between spirituality and the prevalence of depressive illness, particularly in cancer patients. 25,26

Religion, spirituality, and anxiety

Given the prevalence of anxiety and religion, it is surprising how little research has been conducted on the subject. Religious and spiritual issues in anxiety research lags behind research on mental disorders such as depression and psychosis. Religious beliefs, practices, and coping strategies may increase the prevalence of anxiety by instilling guilt and fear. Religious beliefs, on the other hand, may provide comfort to those who are fearful and anxious. A lack of standardized measures, poor sampling procedures, failure to control for threats to validity, limited assessment of anxiety, experimenter bias, and poor operationalization of religious constructs have all resulted in mixed and often contradictory results in studies on anxiety and religion. 27

Some studies have looked at the links between religion and anxiety disorders like obsessive-compulsive disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Unlike Freud’s28 view of religion as a form of universal obsessional neurosis, empirical evidence suggests that religion is associated with higher levels of obsessional personality traits but not higher levels of obsessional symptoms. Religion may encourage people to be cautious, but not to the point of obsession. 29,30 Although religion has been shown to improve one’s ability to cope with trauma and to deepen one’s religious experience, others have found that religion has little or no effect on PTSD symptoms. 31

The connections between generalized anxiety and religious participation appear to be complicated. In a comprehensive review of the relationship between religion and generalized anxiety in 7 clinical trials and 69 observational studies, Koenig and colleagues8 discovered that half of these studies found lower levels of anxiety in more religious people, 17 studies found no association, 7 reported mixed results, and 10 suggested increased anxiety in more religious people.

Strong religious beliefs can help people cope with existential issues, whereas weaker beliefs or questions about one’s beliefs can cause anxiety.

32 The fact that researchers used different measures of religiosity may account for these contradictory findings. Other research has concentrated on death anxiety. Congregational differences, as well as differential effects of religion and spirituality, are highlighted in research conducted in the United States and abroad, emphasizing the complex relationships between religious and cultural factors. 33 To date, studies on anxiety and religion have emphasized cognitive aspects of anxiety rather than physiological aspects. Physiological parameters should be included in future studies.

A number of pathways have been discussed in the literature by which religion/spirituality influence depression/anxiety: increased social support; less drug abuse; and the importance of positive emotions in religious people’s lives, such as altruism, gratitude, and forgiveness. Furthermore, religion fosters a positive worldview, provides answers to some of the why questions, fosters meaning, can discourage maladaptive coping, and fosters other-directedness.

Religion and schizophrenia coping

The majority of research in schizophrenia and religion has focused on religious delusions and hallucinations with religious content. Religion, on the other hand, has recently gained popularity as a coping strategy and recovery factor. 34 Religious delusions have been linked to poorer outcomes, poorer treatment adherence, and a more severe course of illness. 35

Several studies indicate that religious beliefs and practices can play an important role in the recovery process and the reconstruction of a functional sense of self in psychosis.

36 Mohr and colleagues37, on the other hand, discovered that while religion instilled hope, purpose, and meaning in the lives of some people with psychosis, it induced spiritual despair in others. Patients also reported that religion reduced psychotic symptoms as well as the risk of suicidal ideation, substance abuse, noncompliance with treatment, and social isolation.

Abuse of substances

Given that most religions actively discourage the use of substances that harm the body and mind, it is not surprising that studies generally show strong negative associations between substance abuse and religious participation. In a review of 134 studies that looked at the links between religious involvement and substance abuse, 90% found that the more religious had less substance abuse. 8 More recent national surveys and studies on alcohol and drug use in African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans have found similar negative associations between religious involvement and substance abuse. 38-41

Discuss the relationship between mental illness and religion

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