Spirituality can be a great source of emotional support for individuals dealing with depression and their families. While spirituality cannot provide every answer, it can provide new ways of interpreting events, helping us see things in a new light. With depression in particular, spirituality can provide us with hope, gratitude, and optimism – characteristics typically sorely needed when going through a depressive episode.
Spirituality is a deeply personal and individual experience, even among members of the same religious group. Therefore, the benefits derived from religious belief during a struggle with depression will naturally vary from person to person.
In addition to the comfort provided by one’s specific religious beliefs, maintaining spirituality in general provides benefits that can help individuals cope with depression. Here are some ways spirituality can help when dealing with depression:
How Spirituality Can Help With Depression
Sense of Purpose and Meaning
Spirituality gives us a sense of purpose and meaning in life. When dealing with depression, this sense of a higher purpose can combat feelings of despair or worthlessness which often accompany depression. Spirituality can aid in connecting with a higher purpose or discovering meaning in suffering, which can make depression more bearable and lessen its emotional impact.
Community and Support
Depression tends to cause isolation. When we feel depressed, we tend to withdraw from social gatherings and neglect contact with those close to us. Religious communities provide a way to maintain social connections in a familiar setting. Whether you attend regular worship services or not, that sense of belonging and shared values that comes from participating in a religious community can be beneficial during times of self-doubt and loneliness.
For some people, spirituality can serve as a coping mechanism, helping to combat negative emotions such as anger or self-harm. Prayer, meditation, or other spiritual practices can provide a healthy outlet to release negative emotions and allow positive feelings to replace them.
Forgiveness and Self-Compassion
Depression is often accompanied by feelings of worthlessness, self-doubt, shame, and self-criticism. Some spiritual teachings emphasize forgiveness, both of others and oneself. Giving ourselves the gift of forgiveness and the ability to let mistakes go can be some of the healthiest ways to overcome the negative self-image brought on by depression.
Mindfulness and meditation practices rooted in spirituality can help manage stress and anxiety, which are often associated with depression. Meditation can also counteract the negative self-talk that is common with depression by connecting us with a healthier inner dialogue.
Spirituality Traps to Avoid When Dealing with Depression
While spirituality offers many benefits when struggling with depression, it can also contribute to feelings of depression or exacerbate existing depressive symptoms in some people. Like any coping mechanism, it can be misused or misinterpreted, leading to worsening symptoms.
Here are some potential areas of concern, where spirituality may be misused or misconstrued and could lead to worsening someone’s mental health and depression.
Obsessing Over Guilt and Shame
Some religious traditions emphasize concepts of sin, guilt, and shame. If a person becomes excessively focused on these aspects of their religion, with a constant fear of divine punishment for misdeeds, these negative emotions can easily lead to depression.
Participating in religious rituals with one’s spiritual community can provide a sense of belonging. If depression causes a person to withdraw from these rituals or community events, they may experience social isolation, a significant risk factor for depression.
Pressure to Conform
Some religious or spiritual communities may expect members of the community to conform to specific beliefs, practices, or lifestyles, even putting significant social pressure on members to conform. If someone feels excessive pressure to conform, but feel they are unable to live up to these expectations, it can lead to depression and feelings of worthlessness.
A crisis of faith or a loss of religious or spiritual beliefs can be emotionally distressing. The loss of community and departure from one’s traditional belief system can cause feelings of emptiness, loneliness, or spiritual abandonment.
Depending on Faith Alone To Be Healed
Depression is a complex mental health condition. Relying solely on faith or prayer to alleviate depression without seeking professional help can lead to worsening symptoms and result in tragic outcomes. It is important to understand that depression is not a result of a lack of faith, nor is it a test of one’s faith. It is a medical condition that can be treated with appropriate interventions.
The Ampelis Coaching Path to Healing
At Ampelis Health, we believe that true happiness comes from the pursuit of meaning in our lives. In our pursuit of meaning and purpose, there are three key areas that guide us in our discovery:
- Development of Self
- Relationships with Others
- Cultivating Spirituality
We help patients on their mental health journey by providing evidence-based treatments that address issues of depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD and other mental health issues. These mental health conditions prevent us from living a more meaningful life. Through high quality psychiatric care, and innovative treatments such as TMS and ketamine, patients can obtain relief and remission from depression.
Once patients have addressed their mental health issues, they are prepared for Ampelis Coaching. Using the principles of Development of Self, Relationships with Others, and Cultivating Spirituality, Ampelis Coaching guides patients to a richer, more fulfilling life.
We believe cultivating spirituality is a critical component of the journey to a life filled with meaning and purpose. It provides us with the mindset of gratitude, and an openness to a sense of higher purpose. We are then better able to sustain long-term relief and remission from troubling mental health conditions like depression.
Utah-based Depression Treatment
Ampelis Health offers Utah patients two convenient locations for mental health treatment. Our Highland, Utah clinic serves patients in Utah County and the south end of Salt Lake County. Our South Ogden clinic (located in Mindful Medical) serves patients in northern Utah. Our providers are spirituality-informed and respectful of all faith traditions. Call Ampelis Health today at 435-776-5909 to schedule an appointment.