Depression Review Summary

Purpose: To examine the influence of religion on depression.  Methods: We reviewed articles evaluating the influence of religion and spirituality on depression in the peer-reviewed medical literature from May 1992 to January 2016.  Results: The review showed that religion and spirituality had a consistent, positive impact on depressed patients and/or the prevention of depression in the physically diseased, their relatives (caregivers) or otherwise healthy subjects in First World countries. Of the 33 studies included 26 showed a positive relationship; while only 7 noted an inconsistent relationship. Specific activities which appeared to help depression were: general religiosity/spirituality, church attendance, desire for spiritual growth, born-again experience and social support. In contrast, isolated intrinsic or extensor expressions of faith were noted to not be helpful with depressive symptoms.  Conclusion: This review suggests that religion and spirituality might help patients diagnosed with depression or symptoms of depression from a broad spectrum of demographic backgrounds.