Then the researchers realized the puzzling finding was likely related to the fact that depressed people often cling tighter to religion, relating more often to God and praying more often than less depressed people.
The study ~ conducted by Harvard and Brown University medical schools as well as the National Institutes of Mental Health and the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion ~ characterized the religiosity of 918 study participants in terms of three domains of religiosity:
- Religious service attendance, referring to being involved with a church.
- Religious well-being, referring to the quality of a person's relationship with a higher power.
- Existential well-being, referring to a person's sense of meaning and their purpose in life.
Researchers also theorize this is because people with depression tend to use religion as a coping mechanism. As a result, they're more closely relating to God and praying more.
"People with high levels of existential well-being tend to have a good base, which makes them very centered emotionally," lead researcher Joanna Maselko told Science Daily. "People who don't have those things are at greater risk for depression, and those same people might also turn to religion to cope."
Maselko admits that researchers have yet to determine which comes first for the depressed people: the depression or being religious.
Click here for the Science Daily article.