Under the Hood

How Faith Can Help Curb Adolescent Depression

Although not as talked about as other conditions, suicide has slowly seeped into our collective cultural consciousness, becoming a bigger problem that needs to be addressed as each new year passes by.

Just last 2016, around 45,000 people in the United States took their own lives, effectively marking a 25 percent increase in suicide incidences since the year 1999. Throughout the same time, spending on mental health issues (such as therapy and medicinal treatment) has also risen in the country. The rates of adolescents going through major depressive episodes each year have also risen, pushing the World Health Organization to mark it as a global health problem that should be recognized.

And now, social scientists are wondering whether introducing faith to adolescents can help curb the problem or at least bring the numbers down.

Introducing Faith

According to experts, this notion isn’t new in the field at all, especially psychiatry. However, the reactions have always been dire.

For example, Sigmund Freud has been quoted saying, “If one attempts to assign to religion its place in man’s evolution, it seems not so much to be a lasting acquisition, as a parallel to the neurosis which the civilized individual must pass through on his way from childhood to maturity.” 

Nevertheless, there are some who think it has the potential to instill positive results. Of course, there are statistics to lean on as well. Previous surveys have shown that those with religion in their lives are reported to have better mental health. But whether religion is the reason behind it is still up for debate.

However, via a form of quasi-experimenting on students, experts were able to find out that religiosity does have a robust effect on adolescents who are inhibiting symptoms of depression. Furthermore, it’s also driven not just by exposure to peer with the same mindset, but by the student himself/herself.  It’s also shown to act as a really strong buffer against incidents that may trigger episodes such as stress from both home and school.

For many, this is fantastic news, especially for the study of faith and spiritual thinking.

Praying Researchers find religious beliefs activate various areas of the brain the same way as love and sex. Photo courtesy of Pexels, Public Domain

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