Mental Help Net
Depression: Depression & Related Conditions
Basic Information
Introduction and Types of Depressive DisordersRelated Disorders / ConditionsHistorical and Current UnderstandingsBiology, Psychology and SociologyTreatment - Medication and PsychotherapyAlternative Medicine and Self-Help ResourcesSpecial IssuesReferences
More InformationTestsLatest NewsQuestions and AnswersBlog EntriesVideosLinksBook Reviews
Therapist Search
Find a Therapist:
 (USA/CAN only)

Use our Advanced Search to locate a therapist outside of North America.

Related Topics

Anxiety Disorders
Bipolar Disorder
Addictions: Alcohol and Substance Abuse
Pain Management
View the Depression Primer - an illustrated book about Depression

Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.
Dr. Schwartz's Weblog

Depression and Spirituality

Allan N. Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. Updated: Oct 27th 2008

 A new piece of research done at Temple University suggests that those who are spiritual, or attend services, or are active in their religious community have a reduced chance of becoming depressed. However, the study also shows that many people who went through a depression use religion as a coping mechanism.

According to Joanna Maseiko, Sci.D., lead researcher in this study at Temple, states that involvement in a religious institution, be it Church, Synagogue, Mosque, etc. allows for social interaction and provides an existential meaning to life. They feel closer to God and have a sense of purpose in their lives.

It is not yet clear whether depression comes first or turning towards religion that comes first. However, it seems apparent, from this study, that spirituality and religiosity seem to provide for mental hygiene.

I want to add that, though this is interesting research, it does not mean that those who do not attend services and those who are not spiritual will become depressed. There are many ways for people to gain a sense of purpose and involvement in their lives. In fact, Maseiko admits that meditation also provides a similar function.

What are your comments about this topic?

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D.

Readers who live in the Boulder, Colorado metro area, or in Southwest Florida may contact Dr. Schwartz for face-to-face consultation. He is also available for psychotherapy through Skype video for those who are not in Florida or Colorado. He can be reached via email at for details.

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

spirituality - Ray Smith - Feb 25th 2010

Losing my religion as a teenager certainly added to my depression. I looked at other religions and none of them made sense either. "Spirituality" as far as I'm concerned, is wanting to believe in some sort of God without admitting that it all just does not make sense.

People pushing spirituality is no different that people pushing religion, it's magical thinking designed for false comfort.

"Faith, at best, can let a man live and die in hope." -Maharishi Mahesh Yogi-

It took awhile, but I'm quite content without a God or gods. There is enough wonder and amazement in this life without superstitious nonsense.

Depression does come first - jenny - Dec 10th 2009

Depression does come first, it is very clear to me. I am 47 have been suffering depression (and possibly bipolar) all of my life. I have also been a total non believer where God and any religion have been concerned. That was until about 12 months ago. I now believe in God 100% and to be honest it feels to me that the depression I have suffered from in the last 12 months I am able to find a way out of or atleast understand and it does not get to the point where I want to end my life.  The definately is a big difference.

Spirituality and Depression...there is a true reward of being spiritual - Dr. T - Oct 28th 2008

As one with a foundation in Christian principles and who was raised under the beliefs of God, I can safely say that many, including myself, have experienced depression even while following the precepts of God's. Just because people follow religious principles doesn't warrant an easier life, less depression, or unhappiness. It does, however, provide a sense of security, loving relationships with mentors, great advice on every area of life that perplexes humanity, a silent link from you to God (i.e., once you learn to communicate your concerns to God as you would a tangible human), and peace of mind from the Word of God and people who know how to talk to you about Him.

Depression still arises in Christians; but knowing someone who is honestly rooted in God (and not so religious that they cannot offer you help) can most times be very helpful to those who are depressed because they know just the right things to say at the right time. Psychologists/counselors can provide a perspective of the world that only exacerbates depression and perhaps encourage severe depression or even suicidal thoughts because of the lack of spiritual understanding. Many multicultural or diversity psychology books, mainly text books, speak to this stating that psychologists/counselors can best help their clients if they understand how important it is to be able to speak on spiritual things. We are not just physical, mental, and sexual beings...we are also spiritual.

Yes...I agree, those with spiritual links can be less depressed. But only if one finds the correct spiritual counsel to sit under and knows when to seek it.

I wish you the best.

p.s. spiritual can also consist of learning to tune into yourself, better understanding your needs, and being able to free your mind when too much is too much!! I would encourage someone in this place to seek namaste yoga, meditation classes, DVD's or VHS tapes on yoga/medication, a Bible with a translator (great resource!) and lastly, mentorship of some kind, and careful not to rule out religious mentorship, it can really help you, it helped me. Try and go to contact for a prayer request. Dr. Charles Stanley is also a great resource at

Follow us on Twitter!

Find us on Facebook!

This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify.This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
verify here.

Powered by CenterSite.Net