Religion habit cuts anxiety in women

Jan 01, 2008

For many, religious activity changes between childhood and adulthood, and a new study finds this could affect one’s mental health.

According to Temple University’s Joanna Maselko, Sc.D., women who had stopped being religiously active were more than three times more likely to have suffered generalized anxiety and alcohol abuse/dependence than women who reported always having been active.

“One’s lifetime pattern of religious service attendance can be related to psychiatric illness,” said Maselko, an assistant professor of public health and co-author of the study, which appears in the January issue of Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology.

Conversely, men who stopped being religiously active were less likely to suffer major depression when compared to men who had always been religiously active.

Maselko offers one possible explanation for the gender differences in the relationship between religious activity and mental health.

“Women are simply more integrated into the social networks of their religious communities. When they stop attending religious services, they lose access to that network and all its potential benefits. Men may not be as integrated into the religious community in the first place and so may not suffer the negative consequences of leaving,” Maselko said.

The study expands on previous research in the field by analyzing the relationship between mental health — anxiety, depression and alcohol dependence or abuse — and spirituality using current and past levels, said Maselko, who conducted the research when she was at Harvard University.

In the study sample, comprising 718 adults, a majority of men and women changed their level of religious activity between childhood and adulthood, which was critical information for the researchers.

“A person’s current level of spirituality is only part of the story. We can only get a better understanding of the relationship between health and spirituality by knowing a person’s lifetime religious history,” Maselko said.

Out of the 278 women in the group, 39 percent (N=109) had always been religiously active and 51 percent (N=141) had not been active since childhood. About 7 percent of the women who have always been religiously active met the criteria for generalized anxiety disorder compared to 21 percent of women who had stopped being religiously active.

“Everyone has some spirituality, whether it is an active part of their life or not; whether they are agnostic or atheist or just ‘non-practicing.’ These choices potentially have health implications, similar to the way that one’s social networks do,” Maselko said.

Source: Temple University

Explore further: Longer acquaintance levels the romantic playing field

Related Stories

Most Americans support renewable energy standards

Jun 03, 2015

Despite recent attempts in many state legislatures to repeal or weaken renewable energy requirements, a University of Michigan poll finds that a majority of Americans—of every race, income and education level, and religious ...

Unearthing slave artifacts in South Carolina

May 12, 2015

When Sharon Moses and a group of NAU students conduct an historical archaeology field school later this month, they will be looking for relics buried beneath former slave quarters to gain additional insights ...

Recommended for you

Longer acquaintance levels the romantic playing field

1 hour ago

Partners who become romantically involved soon after meeting tend to be more similar in physical attractiveness than partners who get together after knowing each other for a while, according to new findings ...

Genes add risk to depression

19 hours ago

People born with a particular gene variant have a greater risk of developing depressions, a recent study from the Department of Psychology at The University of Oslo shows.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

MongHTan,PhD
not rated yet Jan 01, 2008
"Women are simply more integrated into the social networks of their religious communities. When they stop attending religious services, they lose access to that network and all its potential benefits. Men may not be as integrated into the religious community in the first place and so may not suffer the negative consequences of leaving," Maselko said.


This is true; that's why Religion has been often easily used, misused, and/or abused to prey on, and to promote, the submissive mentality in its followers (as sheep)!

"Everyone has some spirituality, whether it is an active part of their life or not; whether they are agnostic or atheist or just 'non-practicing.' These choices potentially have health implications, similar to the way that one's social networks do," Maselko said.


This is also true; that's why we must promote the modern spirit of "freedom of belief and non-belief" alike! Thank you all, Happy and Prosperous 2008 and beyond!

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.