depression and certain religions or brands

It is not a primary purpose of this website to discuss religion.  However, one page does discuss exercise and art appreciation and creation and how those things relate to depression.

The school is probably not going to involve itself in a debate over good and bad religion.

There are some people who are “depressed” and who are sad that what seems to be their “depression” is not getting better, despite various things that they may be doing to ameliorate or resolve it.  I hope that no one who visits this site and who is “depressed” and who begins some exercise or art appreciation does not feel badly that feelings of discouragement do not disappear or at least, do not disappear completely.  Of course, they might, but there are no guarantees at this point!

Depression, the most common of the psychological disorders, is on the rise. A World Health Organization study conducted in 2000 predicts that depression will be the second largest cause of disability for all ages and sexes by 2020, accounting for 15% of the total disease burden (Baetz, Bowen, Jones & Koru-Sengul, 2006). A 2010 study by Mackenzie et al. indicated that among college students, depression rates (assessed by the Beck Depression Inventory II) are at an all-time high – 25% for men and 26% for women.

Because depression and anxiety are considered major mental health and public health problems and because these things seem, reportedly, to afflict about 1 in 10 teenagers, here are a few other extra things some of “you” may not hear from parents, teachers or your school counselours.

A study at the University of Basel examined a group of “depressed” patients and a group of “healthy” patients with no depression.  The healthy controls were far more likely than those depressed to believe that religion could be a cause of depression. (Pfeifer & Waelty, 1999, p. 43) as cited by Klukow page 14.

The aforementioned Puritans, a fervent group of evangelical Christians, had a particularly experiential brand of evangelicalism, and interestingly, also had an extraordinarily high incidence rate of depression, even compared to other Christians of their day (Sena, 1973) as cited by Klukow page 16.

This emphasis on experience [in some forms of religion] and relationship can be negative as well as positive. In some cases, this emphasis may lead to a higher risk of depression. Meador and colleagues found that, among 2,850 adults in a North Carolina community, those with a Pentecostal affiliation – which not only places great emphasis on experience, but also on being healed by faith – were three times more likely to develop depression than their religiously-affiliated counterparts, despite controlling for a number of other possible factors (Meador, Koenig, Hughes & Blazer, 1992) as cited by Klukow, page 17.

Religions (or certain variants of them) which have had a proven or suggestive statistical relationship to depression, anxiety and/or to anti-depressant use include evangelicalism, Pentecostalism, Puritanism.   There is some controversy about the relationship between depression and being a Jehovah’s Witness or being LDS.

One fellow who was a JW psychologist became convinced that the JW religion was a strong contributing cause to a lot of depression and anxiety in his clients.

LDS people seem to be using more anti-depressants than the general public.  Is that because their religion is helping cause them to “be depressed?”  Is that because they don’t “self-medicate” with alcohol or because many of them live in a state with a high altitude?

Is that simply because LDS people are trying more to take care of their mental health and so they “seek help” for problems that the general public does not seek help for as frequently? (I don’t believe that one is the primary cause.)

For what it matters there are professionals who are LDS psychologists and/or psychiatrists . . . and even they are divided as to how much–if at all–the LDS religion is causing depression among its adherents.  Some of the LDS mental health practitioners claim that the differences are merely the result of living in a high-altitude state and seeking care.  Others claim that the LDS religion itself is a strong contributing factor.  They often base their claim on their own personal experience in having been “treating” people with “depression” in whose lives religious factors frequently become a substantial part of the conversation and became viewed as a strong contributing factor.

Here is the testimony of one woman whose depression increased as she became more involved in her religion and who found it lifted after she left that religion.  While she was in the religion, she assumed that the problems she had were from her.  Serious physical and emotional problems of hers were lifted after she gave up her religion for another . . .

In 2006, Utah was at the top of the states in terms of per capita users of anti-depressants at 18% of the population.  (As I mentioned, some people explain this by saying that since the LDS drink less alcohol, residents of Utah are not “self-medicating” and others say it is the altitude . . .)

An article in Scientific American says it is estimated that 8 to 10% of Americans are taking anti-depressants.

Inna is high on her anti-depressants . . .

It is possible for some people to see certain mental health practitioners who are against religion in general and it is also possible to see others who strive to be completely neutral towards one’s religion.  Walking, exercise and art appreciation may not solve your depression, if there are other significant contributing factors which are not addressed.

Part of the hidden problem of religion is that a number of brands of religion state or imply, directly or indirectly, that walking, exercise and art appreciation, art creation, meditation and hugging other people are pointless, frivolous and an unworthy use of your time.

If God and your religion demand 30 hours a week of your time, and those 30 hours are in addition to your work, your schooling or your family time, then God and your religion are in fact making you predisposed to depression simply by consuming the time that would have been spent in walking, meditation or art.

Different religions have different views on meditation, and there are different kinds of meditation.  Mindfulness meditation rivals drugs in curing or ameliorating “depression.”  If your religion discourages certain kinds of meditation, it may be contributing to depression indirectly.

Different religions also have different views on getting spanked, caned or whipped.  Some discourage it and some encourage it.  Again, some people believe that being whipped is helpful if you wish a better mood and for other reasons . . . Doctor of Biological Sciences, Sergei Speransky, is a very well known figure in Novosibirsk. The doctor became one of the authors of the  whipping therapy. The professor used the self-flagellation method to cure his own depression . . .

So, if you are “struggling” with “depression” and wish some alternatives to my ideas about exercising and art appreciation . . . there is either the school counselour . . . or church youth group leader . . . or you may wish to check your religion for factors that are discouraging and unhealthy, and maybe meditate.  You could let a friend know and maybe get sp**ked with a hairbrush.  Forgive my mentioning it . . .  It might not be on the top of the list of suggestions of the school counselour . . . but you can do your own research.  (I am not your school principal . . . and your school principal does or does not approve this message  . . .)

I mean, I assume that at least some of you are not too intrigued with taking Abilify and the others . . .  But maybe you do like Abilify (except that they don’t provide it to you if you are under 18!)  Maybe Abilify is better than walking, showing cleavage, wearing yoga pants or pretty lipstick as a form of art, checking your religion and getting spanked . . .  I don’t know.  Do you?  Everybody chooses somewhat differently . . . Life is so complicated and Abilify is so easy to choose . . .

One 2010 study from the Institute for Safe Medication Practices that found five antidepressants to be among the 10 prescription drugs most disproportionately linked with reports of violent behavior.  Hmm, I wonder what other effects they might have . . .

Depression is a serious disorder that can cause significant problems in mood, thinking, and behavior at home, in school, and with peers. It is estimated that major depressive disorder (MDD) affects about 5 percent of adolescents.

Recently, there has been some concern that the use of antidepressant medications themselves may induce suicidal behavior in youths. Following a thorough and comprehensive review of all the available published and unpublished controlled clinical trials of antidepressants in children and adolescents, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a public warning  in October 2004 about an increased risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior (suicidality) in children and adolescents treated with SSRI antidepressant medications.

The FDA adopted a “black box” label warning  indicating that antidepressants may increase the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in some children and adolescents with MDD. A black-box warning is the most serious type of warning in prescription drug labeling.

So, yeah, I realize some of the school admin may not like some of my suggestions and how they relate to depression or not . . . Oh . . . well . . .

On the other hand, after the FDA warning, suicide rates for teens increased . . .

A national team of researchers led by Christine Y. Lu, an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School, tracked antidepressant use among 2.5 million young people between 2000 and 2010. After the FDA’s warnings in 2003 and 2004, use of commonly prescribed antidepressants like fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft) and others fell by 30% in teenagers and 25% in young adults. During that same period, suicide attempts rose by 22% in teens and 34% in young adults. The researchers concluded that the decrease in antidepressant use, sparked by worries over suicidal thoughts, may have left many depressed young people without appropriate treatment and that may have boosted the increase in suicide attempts. The results were published online this week in BMJ.

Anyone for Abilify, Zoloft or Prozac?  Anyone for a walk or a hairbrush?

How does getting spanked or flogged relate to mental health and how do various religions regard getting flogged? Abilify and Prozac are better or . . . ?

Out of 135 [evangelical] respondents, 23 scored a 17 or higher on the Beck Depression Inventory II, indicating at least mild depression. This was 17% of the total sample. When differentiated by gender, the prevalence of depression for men was 18.4%, for women, it was 16.5%. For comparison, CDC statistics indicate that the national prevalence of depression is 9.1%, and data for Tennessee indicate that the regional prevalence of depression is 11.0%, among the highest in the country (it ranks 7th out of all 50 states and Puerto Rico, the highest being Mississippi at 14.8) (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010).

Remarkable Findings

The results of the study were remarkable in several ways. Not only was the relationship between depression and spirituality negative and significant, as hypothesized, but the prevalence of depression in the sample is of special interest. Far from demonstrating that religious involvement on its own decreases the likelihood of depression, the prevalence of depression in the sample [of a variety of attendees at evangelical churches] was incredibly high.

Now, while I appreciate Klukow and her research, I don’t know for sure if she was as careful as she should be in drawing her comparisons.  She found that about 17% of the evangelicals she surveyed were at least mildly depressed based on the “Beck Depression Inventory II.”  However, she then compares this to a rate of depression for the general public . . . are the numbers she uses to estimate the prevalence of depression in the general public for MDD, for those who are taking anti-depressants, or for those who are at least mildly depressed as found to be so by the Beck Inventory?  I don’t recall that she specifies.  Maybe she did and I didn’t catch it.

Also, a lot of Klukow’s survey subjects were of college ages . . . and  the study mentioned at the top of the page found that about 25% of college aged youth in general were “depressed” as measured by the Beck Inventory.

Anyway, I am not saying Klukow is wrong and I do believe that some brands of religion have strong depressive effects.

It is reported anecdotally that various evangelicals have gone to see certain mental health practitioners and that those mental health practitioners have asked them if they are evangelical, and there has been the indication or implication that being evangelical is, for some people, a contributing or complete influence on their depression.

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