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Forums / Staying well / The role of faith in anxiety and depression

Topic: The role of faith in anxiety and depression

5 posts, 0 answered
  1. jok
    jok avatar
    1 posts
    21 September 2015
    Hi all, I am a new contributor to the forum. I have had life long struggles with anxiety and depression but not bad enough to be hospitalised or to remove myself from life's activities and work. I have found that faith in some 'higher source' has helped me at least as much as medication and the heaps of self help suggestions offered by many well meaning people. I think one of the main reasons why faith works is that we 'give up the struggle' and just 'surrender' our lives and everything about them to some higher, non-secular 'source'. I am not referring to any particular religious tradition here. I believe there are many pathways towards faith and different people respond to or are inspired by different 'pathways'. Paul Green's book 'At last a life' is an excellent approach to addressing anxiety. He suggests, after suffering for over 10 years that the only way to cure anxiety is to NOT try to cure it. He believes that we get ourselves stuck in the anxiety 'loop' by constantly fighting and trying to escape the way we feel. I can see the connections between Green's approach and faith in that both advocate a 'surrender to' and complete acceptance of our condition, rather than engaging in the endless adrenaline fuelled fighting and trying to escape. Love to see what others think about this.
    1 person found this helpful
  2. geoff
    Life Member
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    geoff avatar
    16228 posts
    22 September 2015 in reply to jok

    dear Jok, hi and thanks for posting your comment and a huge welcome to you.

    There has been a few comments made about depression and believing that by having a faith will help you or anybody through this terrible ordeal, point taken, and as far as I'm concerned if this is what people truly believe in, then I'm not going to dispute their beliefs, not on this site because that would not be appropriate.

    I haven't read Paul Greens book and I do respect how you feel, but can I look at other beliefs that people could also have such as many people are addicted to chocolate and feel as soon as they have their satisfaction fixed feel as though they feel much better, or lets take someone with OCD who believe that they have to check whether or not the door lock has been locked, so their belief is that once they check this lock then they are satisfied, the same goes with someone drinking alcohol who also believe that once they have a drink this will help them with depression/anxiety.

    So what I'm trying to say here is that not only having a faith in whatever you religion you practice in, there are other beliefs that people also need to use to help them with this illness.

    From what I have said is not up for debate, as I won't indulge in this, but open for conversation, and would like to get your thoughts. Geoff.

  3. GuardianMike
    GuardianMike avatar
    4 posts
    27 September 2015 in reply to geoff

    A few studies I've just found suggest that people with religious involvement have lower rates of, and reduced risk of depression and depressive symptoms, depending on their level of involvement and the focus of the religious group itself. But despite this, I've been told by a few people that religious groups come to mental health groups for 'recruitment', and that I do not approve of.

    I'm sure that finding faith of some sort can have a very positive affect on our lives. Moreso than faith itself, I believe the true help may come hope, purpose, common interest with others and reassurance.  A key part in turning my own life around wasn't a religion, or faith, but instead a philosophy and lifestyle (which many would, and do, mistake for a religion) which empowered me to make a difference, as well as put me into contact with like-minded people who were able to help me through. 

    Feelings of unworthiness, isolation and hopelessness definitely feed depressive symptoms, and in the right group and context, faith or religious involvement can very well help. 


    1 person found this helpful
  4. HyperDave
    HyperDave avatar
    25 posts
    14 October 2015 in reply to jok

    I have no doubt that "faith" in some type of religious concepts can help some people feel better emotionally. If you truly believe that, in the end, things will be okay and that you will be looked after, then I am sure this is going to be a comforting perception.

    I also believe religious communities, such as church communities can play a positive social role in peoples lives, by providing a potentially supportive social environment for people to participate in.

     I totally respect everyone right to make decisions about their beliefs, and I respect people that have different beliefs.  I am certainly not arrogant enough to think that i know better.

    Unfortunately though I am fairly much in the direction of an "atheist' when it comes to believing in god, a "higher power" or the "supernatural". I am not able, for example, to believe something because it will make me feel better.

    I am however trying in my life to have the most realistically positive mindset that I am able, and do reasonably well, considering my circumstances.

    Best wishes.

  5. Paul
    Champion Alumni
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    Paul avatar
    810 posts
    14 October 2015 in reply to jok

    Hi jok,

    You mentioned "giving up the struggle" and "surrendering to it" in your post and also having faith in a higher source. This reminds me of a technique that is used which teaches acceptance of ourselves including our struggles and perhaps illnesses, uses neutral observation of difficult emotions and fosters a commitment towards some goals that provide hope, fulfilment and direction. 

    In saying that, I see a parallel in the way you have framed your acceptance and commitment of sorts and some methods of counseling. I'm not saying either is wrong or right because, as mentioned faith and community can be powerful in providing help and hope.

    I'd like to think that with faith and belief also comes observation of one's self so that if things start to get difficult, it will be known when it's time to reach out.

    Take care




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