Believe in God? May Protect You from Depression

I've always believed this, but my husband, the atheist, laughs at me.

I just dismiss his cynicism but a new study has proved me right: participants normally prone to depression who had strong religious or spiritual beliefs had thicker brain cortices than others, guarding them against developing the illness, according to newswise.com.

"The relatively thicker cortex was found in precisely the same regions of the brain that had otherwise shown thinning in people at high risk for depression," the Web site reports.

It sort of bears out my hypothesis that those who have a rich spiritual life are protected, in some ways, against life's hard knocks.  Not that they don't still happen -- I've survived cancer twice -- but you somehow get through it and maybe suffer less, feeling shielded from, or cared for,by a force greater than yourself. Some people even believe religion or spirituality cured them, or made their disease less serious.

I'm not there yet!  

But I do believe that spirituality and religion serve a purpose in life.  I'm not sure there's a heaven -- or that I'm going there!  But my belief in a power greater than myself brings much comfort, and that's why I feel so sad that my husband -- and now, my preteen son -- call themselves atheists.

“The new study links this extremely large protective benefit of spirituality or religion to previous studies which identified large expanses of cortical thinning in specific regions of the brain in adult offspring of families at high risk for major depression,”  Lisa Miller, professor and director of Clinical Psychology and director of the Spirituality Mind Body Institute at Teachers College, Columbia University. said at newswise.com.

The relatively thicker cortex was found in precisely the same regions of the brain that had otherwise shown thinning in people at high risk for depression.

Is there really someone up there?  I don't know.  But believing there is is sure a lot more pleasant than thinking, as a grandfather on a recent commercial says, when asked by his grandson, "Where do people go when they die?" "In the ground."


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