Posted by: jedwardswright | January 27, 2011

Prayer, Meditation and Depression

Do prayer and meditation help people suffering from depression?

The beneficial effects of prayer and meditation on the physical and mental health of individuals are difficult to measure in any subjective scientific fashion. Isolating the specific influence of prayer from other possible factors is tricky enough, but determining to what degree a particular person, who may have been praying for many years, has benefitted from that practice alone can be a challenge.

It is remarkable, then, how many studies from the scientific and medical fields have focused on the value of prayer and/or meditation. These are not efforts sponsored by any religious organizations, but research pursued by secular academics that have been published in reputable journals associated with their respective fields. (The author acknowledges that meditation may be practiced in either a religious or secular context.)

Although it is common to find the recommendation that more study needs to be done, the majority opinion is that yes, prayer and meditation are valuable tools in improving people’s health, including their mental health.[i] The authors of these reports are quick to add that patients should not rely on prayer alone to improve their health, but to consider it an additional option to support conventional medical treatment.[ii]

In fact, one study concluded that not only did regular church attendance (where it is reasonable to suppose that prayer took place) lower the potential for suffering from depression, but attending more frequently resulted in even lower rates of depression, mania, and panic disorders.[iii]

Even an avowed skeptic, Gil Gaudia, Ph.D. has admitted that prayer likely has a positive effect on patients. He writes, “As for the alleged benefits of prayer on the ill, we may accept the calming, placebo, meditative, or ‘other effects’ that in all likelihood do exist.”

If you are not already in the habit of praying or practicing meditation, consider adding one or both to your regular routine as another way to support a healthier mind and body.

Resource: An interesting article on mental illness and spirituality.

 

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Responses

  1. I suffer from Anti-Social Personality Disorder and Schizoaffective Disorder. These are my main diagnosis, but I suffer from sub-diagnosis as well. I have tried meditation many times and when I am clear headed it works great, but as my cycle progresses and my mind deteriorate it gets harder to find my center. I think a lot has to do with the energy prayer and meditation bring. I am in and out back and forth when it comes to my spiritual journey so I believe different things at different times.

  2. Tim, thank you for sharing your experience with meditation.
    I have also found that when my mental health situation wasn’t good, it interfered with my ability to have a satisfying prayer life, although I do believe that I still recieved blessings and benefits from praying, sometimes even when I didn’t feel it at the time. I try to rely on the prayers of others at that time (although naturally I am still selective about which people I ask to pray for me).
    Jodi

  3. Jodi,

    I have had people pray for me, usually because I always seem to come into contact with people who want to save me. Maybe this is some sort of sign. I wish prayers could take my illness away, but so far it has not. I have prayed to many Gods, but my illness still infects me.

  4. Tim,
    I believe that we are ill because we live in an imperfect world with imperfect bodies, not because God wants it this way, but because there are so many things for us to learn that we wouldn’t if things were perfect. While I do believe that miracles happen, and there is nothing wrong in asking to be healed, it seems to be the exception to the rule. I don’t understand all this completely, of course, but that is where I am at with it right now.
    I believe that you and I are loved by the God who created us, and that he wants to be part of our lives so he can help us get through this mess we are in. I simply asked him one day to take over running my life because I knew that at the rate I was going, running my own show, I would have killed myself within a couple of years. It was an act of desperation at the time, but it has made all the difference — not that I have had an easy life, I haven’t — but I know that I’m not alone.
    I can only speak from my own experience.
    If you would like for me to pray for you, I will — not just so you will be “saved” and I will get another notch in my belt — but because I do care.
    Jodi

  5. Jodi,
    You are an angle thank you. I sometimes think if there is a God he keeps leading me to wonderful people such as yourself

    • Tim,
      I know I’m not an angel, but an angle, maybe! LOL
      I wouldn’t be suprised if God is giving you a nudge every now and then. It sounds like him! 🙂
      Jodi


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