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 Anxiety  Holistic-online.com

Prayer/Spirituality

Turn all your anxiety over to God because He cares for you.

I Peter 5:7

The prayer and spirituality can make a significant difference in sufferers of depressive and anxiety disorders. Fear and anxiety come from feelings of inadequacy and impotency. We're usually facing some kind of situation that we can't control such as: deteriorating marriages, disintegrating health, financial difficulties. These are the factors that break us down and bring us to the end of ourselves. This is where faith comes to our aid.

Studies have shown that religious people are less likely to become depressed and anxious than their nonreligious counterparts. Frequent churchgoing was shown to be associated with lower levels of anxiety and depression.

Several studies showed that religious involvement can protect against mental and psychological problems.

In one study, 20 out of 22 people who practiced prayer or meditation to reduce moderate to severe anxiety showed marked improvement after three months. 

The cheerful heart has a continual feast. Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil. Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than a fattened calf with hatred. [Proverbs 15:15-17]

In a 1993 study, researcher Harold Koenig assessed the relationship between religious involvement and anxiety disorders in 2,969 individuals. They concluded that young and middle-aged individuals who attended church at least once a week were significantly less likely to have anxiety-related disorders than those who did not attend church regularly. Devotional activities such as prayer and Bible study were found to be linked with lower incidence of agoraphobia and other forms of anxiety.

A national study of 2,679 baby boom-generation participants was conducted to understand the causes of psychiatric illnesses. The study found that those who attend church regularly have only a 50% probability of suffering from  mental health conditions such as depression and other mental illnesses compared to those who attended church infrequently. (18 percent versus 34 percent). Denominations did not make any difference in this case.

A study was conducted in India to test whether the beneficial health aspect of prayer is restricted to Christianity alone or would apply to other religions as well. In a study of Christian and Hindu patients, the psychological well-being of the patients was carefully evaluated. Assessed factors such as mood, sleep, and cognitive impairment. For Christian men and women, and for Hindu women, frequent attendance at worship was correlated with fewer psychological problems. (This effect did not hold true for Hindu men.) There was no overall statistical difference between the Christian and Hindu groups, suggesting that the faith factor may be equally beneficial regardless of religious affiliation.

If any of you are having trouble, pray. If you are happy, sing psalms.

James 5:13 

In a study that assessed the psychological health of members of a church in Newfoundland, church members who took part in healing rituals and participated more actively in all church activities reported significantly fewer symptoms of psychological distress than those who participated less in such activities. The results showed a strong correlation between higher levels of church activity and lower levels of psychological distress.

Another set of studies showed that people who suffer from significant mental illnesses like depression and anxiety are less likely to be religiously involved than individuals who are psychologically well. In one study, 16 percent of the mentally ill claimed no religious affiliation, versus only 3 percent of the non-mentally ill patients. The mentally ill patients were also less likely to say that religion was important to them, and their church attendance rates were lower than the non-mentally ill subjects.

Suicide is very often associated with mental illness. Faith was found to help in this case too.

In a 1974 study of suicidal feelings among 720 members of the general population in Connecticut, researchers found that individuals reporting suicidal feelings were less likely than their nonsuicidal peers to belong to a religious organization, to attend religious services, or to pray. A large 1972 community-based study found that people who attend church once a week or more are only half as likely to attempt suicide as others.

A 1991 study by researchers J. B. Ellis and P. C. Smith found that, among one hundred college-student subjects, those with a strong sense of religious well-being were less likely to commit suicide than those who did not derive peace and satisfaction from religious involvement.

Religion and spirituality does not eliminate mental health problems. What religion does is to help the victims cope with their disease. It can enhance the healing process.

"Prescription medications now form the medical cornerstone for recovery from mental illness, but psychotherapy, support groups, and the resources of faith appear to help people change their thought patterns and make constructive changes in their lives. For many of my patients, suffering through depression or anxiety has actually brought them closer to God-perhaps not right away, but ultimately. Once out of the grip of these frightening illnesses, they find new meaning in their lives and often go forward with a desire to grow spiritually and to serve others. The illness can serve as a wake-up call for some to change destructive life patterns. People who have listened to the message and heeded its call have often done better."

Dale A. Mathews, M.D.: The Faith Factor


Next Topic: Keys to Overcoming Worry and Anxiety by Spirituality

Related Topic:

Healing Words: Bible Verses Useful in Warding off Anxiety

Overcoming Fear and Anxiety With Prayer and Spirituality

See Also:

Relaxation Response

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