The American Journal of Epidemiology has published the results of a study that shows a correlation between being in community with others of faith through a religious organization and a substantial reduction in the evidence of depression This is UNsurprising in my opinion. The bigger surprise may have been that joining other kinds of groups may provide momentary happiness, but long term depression.
Quote from the extract of the study: "Participation in religious organizations may offer mental health benefits beyond those offered by other forms of social participation."
The study was done in Europe where we might expect the population to be much less evangelical than Americans, but the dominant religion is still Christianity. But in any case, the results shouldn't be surprising at all. If you read the Bible and listen to the sermons, the recurring theme will be to:
- love God and others (other directedness)
- forgive others and yourself
- forget the junk in your past and don't be anxious about anything (worry)
- be disciplined in your life
- not put faith in worldly riches
- have a great group of like minded friends around you
- give daily time to praying for your needs, intercession for others, thankfulness, and contemplation of your life.
The other three social participation groups studied were educational, political, and charitable. There was no explanation for why being in such organizations might cause an increase in depression. There is a general tendency for the elderly to become depressed, so it may be that these groups merely didn't help that inclination, where being a religious group did.
Do you have other thoughts on why these results turned out the way they did?