Using Spirituality As A Reprieve from Depression
Depression is a subject which is closely tied to adversity. Guest author, Cassie Steele's thoughts about how spirituality can be a reprieve from its effects.
Depression is an epidemic. Over 300 million people worldwide live with this condition, and countless more may be going undiagnosed. It’s not only common; it can be deadly. Depression is the leading cause of suicide. Globally, over 800,000 people take their own lives each year. That’s one every 40 seconds. The causes of suicide vary from trauma to chemical imbalances to genetics. Treatments include medication and behavioural therapy, but can spirituality help too? Studies say yes, faith and spirituality can be beneficial in several ways and can even physically change your brain. Let’s take a closer look.
One of the basic foundations of faith is hope. We can find this hope through reading the bible, meditating and prayer. The stories the scriptures tell us about people who have gone through hardships of their own and gotten through them with help from the strength of their faith can provide hope and inspiration, two things people with depression sorely lack. Restoring those things can be healing.
According to research at Columbia College, spiritual and religious activities contribute to a thickening of the brain cortex. This thickening is protective. According to the American Journal of Psychiatry, adults who said they placed a high value on spirituality experienced a 76% decrease in depression. Spirituality changes the brain for the better. There is no specific activity you need to take part in, any spiritual or faith-based activity you enjoy will provide the benefits.
“Why Am I Here?”
Along with “What is my purpose?” This is one of the most basic and most common questions people turn to faith and spirituality to answer. These are also questions that plague people with depression. They often feel as if life has no meaning and they have no place in the world where they are needed or fit in. By exploring spirituality and opening one’s self up to a deeper understanding of the universe and the world around us, we can find answers to those questions, which can bring comfort and reassurance, both of which can ease depression.
Many of the stories in the Bible tell us about suffering, but it had a purpose and ultimately resulted in something good. Christ’s crucifixion is a good example. This facet of spirituality can help people trying to cope with depression make some sense out of their suffering and give them the belief that it too might have a purpose. This can help ease the pain and improve mood. This doesn’t mean depressed people should think of themselves as martyrs though. It simply serves to help frame their experience in a different light and provide a new perspective.
While conventional treatments for depression are useful and shouldn’t be dismissed, spirituality can also be very beneficial in easing the pain. Don’t be afraid to reach out to friends, family and if you attend church, your local clergy. Having someone you can be comfortable discussing your spiritual questions with will be tremendously helpful to you.
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