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Arch Hellen Med, 31(3), May-June 2014, 263-271


Religiosity, spirituality and depression

K.T. Kioulos, J.D. Bergiannaki
First Department of Psychiatry, "Eginition" Hospital, Medical School, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece

The quest for existential meaning is a universal phenomenon, which is traditionally expressed in official religions (religiosity) or personal transcendence (spirituality). Throughout the greatest part of the twentieth century, mental health professionals tended to disregard or even deny the religious experience, often considering it obsolete or even pathological. In recent decades, however, an increasing number of publications have reported interesting findings on the relationship between religiosity and mental health at both the theoretical and the clinical level. Although the relationship between religiosity/spirituality and depression is complex and the results of studies are not uniform, current documentation suggests that individuals with no religious involvement display a higher probability of experiencing a major depressive episode than religious individuals, although the dimension of religious motivation and perhaps the type of depression appear to play an important role. Given the universality, not only of religiosity but also of depression, and taking into account the efficacy of religion as a coping mechanism, there is an urgent need for a more complete understanding of the ways in which religiosity and mental health interact. In this context, the reevaluation of religiosity in both the prevention and the treatment of mental illness constitutes an issue of vital importance. Psychiatrists and psychotherapists should therefore become adequately familiar with, and competent in the management of religious/spiritual matters, and in the evaluation of the ways in which these matters may contribute to either the genesis of psychopathology or the integration of therapy through the world view of the religious experience.

Key words: Depression, Mental health, Religiosity, Spirituality.

© Archives of Hellenic Medicine