Center for Interfaith Cooperation

Hoosiers of Many Faiths in Community

Religion can reduce depression … but how, and why?

Read an article about how valuing religion may trigger brain changes that reduce the risk for depression. and attend April 17’s “Support a support group,” and you may find an answer
Rewiring their brains or forming informal support groups?

Neuro-psychologist Marwa Azab recently published an article in Psychology Today, “Can Religion Help with Depression?” Dr. Azab’s conclusion:

Dr Marwa Azab

In sum, it seems like religiosity or spirituality may confer resilience to the development or recurrence of depressive episodes in individuals in general and in ones with high risk in specific. This resiliency is maybe a result of the relationship between religiosity and a thicker cortex, efficient macro-structure and connections, or better blood flow to brain areas implicated in depression. Scientists are still working to discover more protective factors.”

Marwa Azab, “Can Religion Help with Depression?” Psychology Today, April 5, 2019

Dr. Azab may be correct about the brain science of religion … but there’s surely much more involved. The studies she summarizes focuses on the relation between religious beliefs or practices (such as prayer and meditation) and changes in the brain. But few people practice religion alone. (It’s different than a person considering herself to be a “spiritual person.”)

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Wednesday, April 17, 12:00-1:30 pm
Krannert Hall, Indiana Interchurch Center, 1100 W. 42nd St.


You might see the difference when the Interfaith Coalition for Mental Health (ICMH) hosts its April luncheon, “How to Support a Support Group: Addictions and Mental Illness.”

Several clergy and lay leaders from different religious traditions will share mental health support groups that their congregations host, and the impact these groups have had on the lives of individuals and families.

For most religious people, of course, an important part of their beliefs and practices is other people, being a member of people who share some of the most fundamental articles of faith.

Attend the ICMH discussion ($5 for a tasty lunch is a pretty good deal, too). Some of the people you’ll hear from:

  • Rev. Evan Bever — First Baptist Church and 12 step groups
  • Dr. Linda Williams — Research Scientist, Regenstrief Institute, Inc. and Indiana University Center for Health Services and Outcomes Research
  • Rev. Ben Wakefield — Lynhurst Baptist Church and Celebrate Recovery
  • Imam Alamine — Masjid al Fajr’s mental health initiative with school nurse
  • Plus representatives of the Jewish and Pagan communities

After the panelists’ presentations and Q&A there will be a breakout for small groups to discuss what it means for their congregation. It’s a safe bet that no one will discuss “relationship between religiosity and a thicker cortex, efficient macro-structure and connections, or better blood flow to brain areas implicated in depression.” Attend and let us know what you learned.

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