Academic journal article Indian Journal of Psychiatry

Relationship between Religiosity and Psychopathology in Patients with Depression

Academic journal article Indian Journal of Psychiatry

Relationship between Religiosity and Psychopathology in Patients with Depression

Article excerpt

Byline: Swapnil. Gupta, Ajit. Avasthi, Suresh. Kumar

Objective: To compare the psychopathology between depressed patients with low religiosity and those with high religiosity and to correlate the level of religiosity with the psychopathology in the psychiatric clinic of a general hospital in Chandigarh, North India. Materials and Methods: Thirty depressed patients with low religiosity and 30 patients with high religiosity were assessed on the Religiosity Scale, Beck Depression Inventory, Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, Beck Hopelessness Scale and Suicidal Intent Questionnaire. Results: In the patients with depression, hopelessness and suicidal intent correlated negatively with the level of religiosity. Conclusion: In depressed patients, hopelessness and suicidal intent are inversely related to the level of religiosity.


Major depressive disorder is reported to be the most common mood disorder. [sup][1] The psychopathology of depression is characterized by mood disturbances, anhedonia and loss of interest, psychomotor retardation and depressive cognitions. The depressive cognitions include negative evaluations of the self, of the world and of the future along with recurrent thoughts of death and suicide. Depression also has vegetative symptoms in the form of anorexia, sleep disturbances and decreased libido. Similar rates of depression across cultures may obscure the diversity of the experience of depression in different cultures and in different patients. [sup][2] So, it is important to elucidate not only biological or cognitive understandings of depression but also its social and cultural contexts.

A satisfactory definition of religion has eluded scholars to this day. Capps [sup][3] argued that the definitions of religion offered by many eminent scholars reflected the personal biographies of those scholars, and Yinger [sup][4] said that any theoretical definition of religion was likely to be satisfactory only to its author. According to Shafranske and Maloney, [sup][5] the term "religion" refers to "adherence to and beliefs and practices of an organised church or religious institution". Any research on religious experience and behavior requires an operational definition of denomination and frequency of religious observance. A person can be religious to varying degrees and so these constructs are typically quantitative. Religion can thus be viewed in a one-dimensional or multidimensional perspective. Glock and Stark [sup][6] suggested that religion has five dimensions, and Koenig in his book "Handbook of religion and mental health" has given a list of 12 dimensions of religiousness out of which a particular set may require measurement for a particular study. [sup][7]

Earlier surveys had reported that as compared to 90% of the general public, only 40-70% of psychiatrists and psychologists professed a belief in God. [sup][8] Several years ago, Kroll and Sheehan [sup][9] and Larson et al . [sup][10] had also noted that religious and spiritual variables were relatively neglected in the study of mental health. In recent times, however, a number of authors have underscored the importance of mental health professionals, taking into account the religious and spiritual lives during the psychiatry consultation. [sup][11],[12],[13] Studies have found religiosity to affect the occurrence and psychopathology of substance abuse, psychosis, obsessive compulsive disorder and other anxiety disorder. [sup][14],[15],[16],[17] A study by Kendler et al . [sup][18] identified dimensions of religiosity and correlated them with externalizing and internalizing psychiatric disorders. It was seen that the dimensions of general religiosity, forgiveness, God as judge and involved God were associated with lesser prevalence of externalizing disorders including nicotine, alcohol and other substance dependence and adult anti-social behavior. Social religiosity and thankfulness were associated with lower prevalence of externalizing as well as internalizing disorders (major depression, phobias, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and bulimia nervosa). …

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