An online study conducted at Temple University found that participation in a form of worship whether in a religious community or in priviate prayer or meditation, may have bearing on levels of depression.
The study included 918 participatnts who were measured using a scale of religiosity defined as a person’s religiousness in one of three formats: 1.) religious service attendance (church); 2.) religious well-being (the quality of relationship with a higher power); and 3.) existential well-being (a person’s sense of meaning and purpose in life).
Groups with higher levels of religious well-being were found to be 1.5 times more likely to have had depression than those with lower levels of religious well-being. Lead researcher Joanna Maselko, ScD, theorized that the correlation was based in the trend that people with depression tend to use religion as a coping mechanism. Consequently, they may relate more closely to God or spend more time in prayer.
Persons attending religious services were thirty percent less likely to have had depression in their lifetime. Those with higher existential well-being were seventy percent less likely to have had depression than those who had low levels of existential well-being.
Maselko commented that people who do not have high levels of existential well-being – which tends to manifest in a good emotionally centered base, are at greater risk of depression.
Depressed persons often struggle with knowing their unique purpose in life, or their place in this world. This struggle leads to questions about the meaning of life and usefulness to society.
Church involvement also helps people form relationship bonds in their community, which is a key factor in preventing depression.