Religious Involvement Associated with Greater Optimism, Generosity and Gratitude in People with Major Depression

Researchers from Duke University, Loma Linda University, the University of Maryland, University College in London and King Abdulaziz University in Saudi Arabia examined the relationships between religiosity, depressive symptoms, and positive emotions in people with major depression and chronic illness.

Investigators recruited 129 people who were at least somewhat religious/spiritual into a clinical trial to evaluate the effectiveness of religious vs. secular cognitive behavioral therapy. They used standard measures to assess at baseline the relationships between religious involvement and depressive symptoms, purpose in life, optimism, generosity, and gratefulness using standard measures.

Although religiosity was unrelated to depressive symptoms (F=0.96, p=0.43) and did not buffer the disability-depression relationship (B=-1.56, SE 2.90, p=0.59), strong relationships were found between religious indicators and greater purpose, optimism, generosity, and gratefulness (F=7.08, p<0.0001).

Although unrelated to depressive symptoms in the setting of major depression and chronic medical illness, higher religious involvement is associated with positive emotions, a finding which may influence the course of depression over time.

Citation: Koenig HG1, Berk LS2, Daher NS3, Pearce MJ4, Bellinger DL5, Robins CJ6, Nelson B7, Shaw SF7, Cohen HJ8, King MB9. Religious involvement is associated with greater purpose, optimism, generosity and gratitude in persons with major depression and chronic medical illness. [email protected]. 2014 Aug;77 (2): pp.135-43. Epub 2014 May 15. [email protected].