"Our findings therefore may identify a neural pathway through which the personal importance of spirituality or religion protects against major depressive disorder in people who are otherwise predisposed to developing it," the researchers concluded.
"This study points to measurable, beneficial effects of presumably healthy spirituality, especially for individuals with biological predispositions to depression," Mary Lynn Dell, M.D., told Psychiatric News. She is a professor of clinical psychiatry and pediatrics at Nationwide Children's Hospital and Ohio State University and has studied spirituality and religion. The study, she continued, "adds to substantial and growing evidence that psychiatrists should support healthy development in that sphere of patients' lives. Studies such as these may also inform the particular ways and methodologies religious professionals...employ to care for and work with depressed individuals, while at the same time staying true to their particular religious beliefs and traditions."
To read about a previous study of this topic by Weissman and colleagues, see the Psychiatric News article "Depression Recurrence Less Likely When Religion Is Important."
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