In FreeThinker, Barry Dukes reports on a study that suggests that religion/spirituality could be the cause of depression. There are plenty of comments on the page and here's the link if you like:
I didn't want to get lost in the sea of comments and I really didn't want to weigh in on the angry debating that went on in those comments, but I did want to cogitate a bit on the content of the article, as one who is steeped in religion and spirituality and has also struggled with a depression so deep that I often wonder how I'm still alive.
I'm not trying to brag--but I have tried very hard to be a faithful Christian. I've proven my faith and pressed on when I saw nothing to confirm that faith is valid. I've tried to pull away from those areas of religion that really are unhealthy, even evil, and tried for a benevolent spirituality. I'm not ready to chunk it all, like some of my atheist friends have, but while it may or may not be the cause of my depression, it sure hasn't helped it.
But there is a flaw the logic of the article.
Depression is linked to a lot of qualities but none of them are necessarily a direct cause. A large number of creative people suffer depression. Does creativity cause the depression or is it linked some other way? If you told the painter to stop painting would that cure his depression? Would a depressed writer feel better if she quit writing? Would you tell the musician to stay away from music?
There is strong evidence to suggest that depression is caused by chemical imbalance in the brain, and in fact, many have been helped considerably with medication (I'm one of them).
I think people turn to music, artistry, and faith to assuage their desperation. I know I have. It doesn't always work and yes, it can make depression much worse. Anything that has a power to do good can also be warped to do evil, including and probably especially religion.
My sense of spirituality makes me reach past what I can see for something less tangible... something that may help me make sense of things and make me feel better. I like that quality about myself--reaching for the unknown, searching for that mysterious Presence, hoping it is benevolent.
But does it make me happier?