How Spiritual Practices Can Relieve Depression
A depressed person suffers from low mood and aversion to activity. It can lead to sleeplessness, sadness, low appetite, difficulty in thinking, feeling of hopelessness, and even suicidal tendencies as nothing in life is to survive. Joy and happiness are lost from life.
Hans Selye, father of ‘Stress Phenomenon’ said “Mental tensions, frustrations, insecurity, aimlessness are some of the most damaging stress factors and psychosomatic studies have shown how they frequently cause migraine, headache, peptic ulcers, heart attacks, hypertension, mental diseases, suicide, or just hopeless unhappiness”.
For the past 20 years, western medicine in the United States of America has been exploring uncharted territory: the healing power of spirituality. Now, many medical colleges include classes on spirituality as it boosts immune functions and enhances and accelerates the healing process beyond conventional medical treatment. Dr. Puchalski, the founder, and director of the George Washington Institute for Spirituality and Health says, “People who practice spirituality tend to recover from depression a sooner than those who don’t.”
Koenig HG, says that “Spirituality is a protective religious factor against depression and has been proven to be beneficial in patients with mild to moderate depression. When you become spiritually awakened you adopt it for a lifetime and not only to come out of depression.”
Ten Commandments to tackle depression
- Set a realistic goal for yourself.
- Don’t remember failure or disappointments.
- Learn to say “No”.
- Exercise regularly and play games of your liking
- Sleep for a full 6-7 hours.
- Follow a low-fat vegetarian diet. A diet rich in fiber, fruit, and fresh vegetables relaxes the mind and body.
- Be happy and enjoy life.
- Be positive in your thoughts.
- Practice a few minutes of meditation, yoga, and deep abdominal breathing daily.
- Open your heart to your partner – discuss every problem.
There are so many depressed persons who improved with the help of spirituality and spiritual practices. Some even feel it’s a blessing in disguise as they never had experienced spirituality and spiritual practices and now they regularly do things like yoga and meditation.
It appears that psychological and social factors influence the physiological system of the body that are directly responsible for good health and the ability to fight disease. Therefore, if religious/spiritual involvement can be shown to enhance psychological health and social interactions, it is reasonable to hypothesize that religious factors may improve physical health as well by reducing psychological stress, increasing social support, and encouraging positive health behaviors.1
Kesselring and colleagues found that, while 38 percent of Swiss patients indicated that faith in God and prayer were an important source of support, 92 percent of Egyptian patients (Muslim) indicated the same. Similarly, a study of seventy-nine psychiatric patients at Broken Hill Base Hospital in New South Wales, found that 79 percent rated spirituality as very important, 82 percent thought their therapist should be aware of their spiritual beliefs and needs, and 67 percent indicated that their spirituality helped them to cope with psychological pain. Thus, if religious beliefs and practices such as prayer help people to cope and reduce stress levels, then such activities should also be related to physical health, given what we know about the effects of psychological stress and depression on the body.2
The carry home message to depressed persons is, “Live in present and believe in yourself, in positivity and spirituality. Do spiritual practices like yoga and meditation daily. You can do it.”
1. Harold G. Koenig. Medicine Religion and Health. Templeton Science and Religion Series. 2008;53.
2. Harold G. Koenig. Medicine Religion and Health. Templeton Science and Religion Series. 2008;56.
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