Researchers have found that there is a direct correlation between good mental health and believing in a higher power. Whether you are Buddhist, Catholic, Muslim, Christian, Jewish or belief in another faith, you are more likely to have less stress and better mental health than those who do not affiliate themselves with any religious group.
Researchers at the University of Missouri analyzed the results of three studies and the results of their findings are astonishing.
The surveys interviewed 160 people total. Of that group, 40 were Buddhist, 41 were Catholic, 22 were Jewish, 26 were Muslim and 31 were Protestant. Amongst all of the faiths, those who said that they were actively spiritual had better mental health, were more extroverted and were less likely to be neurotic.
But why is that?
As researchers looked into the personality traits of each participant, they also compared levels of mental health. While one type of personality wasn't determined to be "healthier" than another type, researchers did conclude that those who believed in a higher power and believed in forgiveness were mentally happier than those who didn't.
Study #2: Treatment was more successful
In the Journal of Affective Disorders, researchers followed patients receiving care from a hospital-based behavioral health program, hoping to correlate their relationship with religion and the outcome of their treatments.
They were not surprised when they found that those who believed in a higher power did significantly better with short-term psychiatric treatment.
While assessing the same 159 patients over a one-year period in 2013, researchers examined depression levels, overall well-being and risk of self-harm at the beginning and end of the treatment program. After the conclusion of the study, the patients who did not belief in a higher power were twice as likely not to respond to treatment.
"Belief was associated with not only improved psychological well-being, but decreases in depression and intention to self-harm," says David H. Rosmarin, Ph.D., and instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.
Knowing that there is a higher power watching over you seems to have more impact on your everyday life than you may have ever realized.
The details on exactly how religious conviction correlates to your health aren't clear. However, there are some thoughts on the subject:
Daniel Cohen, one of the authors of the first study shared how "spiritual beliefs may be a coping device to help individuals deal emotionally with stress." Cohen's hypothesis has not been proven fact yet, but a great number of studies and analysis support his claim. While you don't need scientific evidence to strengthen your religious conviction, it does help to know that your spirituality does contribute to your overall health.
Tana is a student with a passion for words. She believes that written words can touch people in ways unimaginable. In her spare time she enjoys singing, hiking, cuddling in a fuzzy blanket, and spending time with her friends and family.