Is depression responsive to spirituality?

This is a blog by my colleague Kay Stroud from Queensland, Australia, originally titled Is mental health genetically-based?

News reports giving statistics of the increasing prevalence of mental illness, depression and suicide in both the young and the elderly are being published every day in Australia.

Have you ever felt lost for words when the subject of mental health is broached? People seem to respond to mental health issues as if they were incurable and part of our genetic make-up.

However, can we be so sure?

Joy – Thinkstock / models for illustration only

An article published in the Medical Journal of Australia in 2007, reports on the results of a scientific study conducted at two community mental health centres in rural Australia. Results showed that spirituality can directly affect a person’s health; it can help people cope better with mental illness; it provides emotional support and a feeling of connection to others that helped them feel they were not alone; and, spirituality is important in recovery from illness.

Spirituality as sustenance for mental health and meaningful doing: a case illustration (Clare Wilding, 2007) included a moving case study of an individual who reported experiencing chronic anxiety and depression spanning a period of at least 10 years, who often thought about suicide. The introduction of spirituality to his life made him realise that he was living life because of God and he was not on his own. Things started to just ‘pan out’ as he began to trust God, and he realised that with God life was actually eternal, so taking his own life was really irrelevant. Not only did spirituality give him a reason not to die – importantly, it also gave him a reason to live.

This is great news for sufferers who have felt that there is nowhere to turn.

What if spirituality could not only help us to manage mental and physical illness but to heal it? I have found that this is more than just a possibility, as I have depended on spiritual healing for healthcare for most of my life.

There was man who suffered from an almost weekly debilitating bout of sadness that rendered him virtually incapacitated for hours at a time. From others he knew who experienced similar situations, he eventually learned its name—depression. And he accepted that it was just who he was. However, a series of events one day led him to start to pray, and there was a turnaround in his thought.

I started praying and knowing that if God was with me at that moment, He was with me every moment to uphold me and maintain my joy, activity, happiness, and productivity. For what outcome? To love God, myself, and my neighbor (everyone else), as Jesus required of his disciples. I remembered an old saying—“If you want a friend, be a friend.” Enlarging that thought, I began to realize if I wanted love, I must love first. If I wanted forgiveness, I must forgive, and so on. Finally, if I was to accomplish anything in this experience, it would be because I was already God’s accomplishment. The reflection of that truth determines what I do now and next.” 

These thoughts were a catalyst that led to permanent healing of the depression. The full account can be found here.

Thanks, Kay!  Kay finished by pinpointing a related account of a Healing of bipolar disorder.

3 thoughts

  1. Thanks so much Tony. I am going to share this with someone who feels they are in such a “dark” place at the moment.
    Much love, Angie xx

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  2. I’m not surprised to hear this. The very basics of spirituality aids in sort of a cleansing and easing of the mind and in turn, allows individuals to become more unified as a person and with their environment. Having such a healthy and sustaining mentality is not only purposeful, but nurturing. I never understood why people who lack a belief system get such a bad rep because often times they want to be connected and can’t find a way and it’s a pretty hard thing to deal with.

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