Religion and mental health
The media love stories about how healthy religion is for people and/or plants. Here are some items from the medical literature that won't be featured on FOX News.
1. Going to church is good for your mental health, provided you don't believe what they tell you.
Baetz M, Griffin R, Bowen R, Koenig HG, Marcoux E. The association between spiritual and religious involvement and depressive symptoms in a Canadian population. J Nerv Ment Dis. 2004 Dec;192(12):818-22.
Data from a large epidemiologic survey were examined to determine the relationship of religious practice (worship service attendance), spiritual and religious self-perception, and importance (salience) to depressive symptoms. Data were obtained from 70,884 respondents older than 15 years from the Canadian National Population Health Survey (Wave II, 1996-1997). Logistic regression was used to examine the relationship of the religious/spiritual variables to depressive symptoms while controlling for demographic, social, and health variables. More frequent worship service attendees had significantly fewer depressive symptoms. In contrast, those who stated spiritual values or faith were important or perceived themselves to be spiritual/religious had higher levels of depressive symptoms, even after controlling for potential mediating and confounding factors. It is evident that spirituality/religion has an important effect on depressive symptoms, but this study underscores the complexity of this relationship. Longitudinal studies are needed to help elucidate mechanisms and the order and direction of effects.
2. It is healthy to shake hands with highly religious Protestants, again, provided you don't believe what they tell you. Protestantism is highly transmissible.
Abramowitz J, Deacon BJ, Woods CM, Tolin DF. Association between Protestant religiosity and obsessive-compulsive symptoms and cognitions. Depression and Anxiety. 2004;20:70-76.
There is evidence that religion and other cultural influences are associated with the presentation of obsessive-compulsive symptoms, as well as beliefs and assumptions presumed to underlie the development and maintenance of these symptoms. We sought to further examine the relationship between Protestant religiosity and (1) various symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) (e.g., checking, washing) and (2) OCD-related cognitions. Using self-report questionnaires, we compared differences in these OCD-related phenomena between highly religious Protestants, moderately religious Protestants, and atheist/agnostic participants drawn from an undergraduate sample. Highly religious versus moderately religious Protestants reported greater obsessional symptoms, compulsive washing, and beliefs about the importance of thoughts. Additionally, the highly religious evinced more obsessional symptoms, compulsive washing, intolerance for uncertainty, need to control thoughts, beliefs about the importance of thoughts, and inflated responsibility, compared to atheists/agnostics. Results are discussed in terms of the relationship between religion and OCD symptoms in the context of the cognitive-behavioral conceptualization of OCD.