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An increasing number of Americans say that they are “spiritual but not religious.” That is, they don’t participate in any organized religion, but they do have their own individual, personal “spirituality.” Is that private, interior spiritual sensibility the same, for all practical purposes, as a religion? Can the increasingly-recognized benefits of religion be found also in those who are just “spiritual”? A new study suggests not.
Psychology Today reports on research that has found that those who are “spiritual but not religious” have significantly higher incidences of depression than those who are “religious.” The speculation is that religions entail interactions with other human beings, which is good for us. Just being “spiritual,” on the other hand, is solitary. It also concentrates on the inwardness and scrutiny of the self, and we know how depressing that can be.
Spiritual - Depression
From “Spiritual But Not Religious” Is Associated With Depression:
In about 25 percent of people, spirituality was stronger than religious belief, whereas religious belief exceeded spirituality in about 75 percent. Interestingly, there weren’t large differences in spirituality versus religiosity as a function of age, gender or ethnicity. However, spirituality clearly predicted increased depressive symptoms over the decades of the study. The risk of depression was over a third greater than for those in whom religious belief was higher than spirituality, showing a meaningful difference between religion and spirituality as a protective factor.
Case - Survey - Data - Factors - Depression
Why would this be the case? The survey data did not estimate specific factors related to depression, so it is only possible to speculate. While religion represents deeply rooted belief and practice, usually coming from family and cultural background, spirituality represents a departure from that traditional, familiar support.
People seeking spiritual answers may be coming from a position of distress, searching for answers or looking for relief from mental suffering.
Such folk may be more vulnerable, leading...
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