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Discussion in 'Philosophy and Religion' started by Skarekrow, Nov 16, 2013.
"Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory." 1 Corinthians 2:6-7
Curious. Spiritual Beliefs Are Linked to a 'Protective' Effect Against Depression in The Brain Religious beliefs, or a sense of spirituality, may cushion some people's brains against depression, according to new research. A study has found a curious link between our personally held beliefs and the thickness of white matter in our noggins. The idea is still very much in its infancy, but as findings like these begin to pile up, the link between depression and religion is becoming ever more intriguing. Today, we know that depression is, at least to some extent, a consequence of our genes. There is quite a bit of research to suggest that if one or both parents are depressed, it can increase a child's risk of depression by double, maybe even quadruple the average amount. But while these studies strongly suggest a genetic component, depression doesn't affect everyone with a depressed parent, and can also show up in people without any family history whatsoever. This means there have to be some other factors at play, and a person's intrinsic worldview may be one of them. Among adults with a high family risk for depression, a firm belief in religion or spirituality - never mind attendance at church or other pious acts - seemed to have a protective effect, shielding some patients from a recurrence of major depressive disorder (MDD). The research is buttressed by a 2005 study, which found that religion served as a buffer against depression in those with poor health. Plus, a 2013 study found that those who are treated for mental health issues respond better to treatment if they believe in God. Diving deeper, the new research used a type of MRI-based neuroimaging, called diffusion tensor imaging, to visualise the white matter in the brains of 99 participants, with varying levels of familial risk for depression. White matter is the pale tissue that makes up the brain's cortex, and it contains the circuitry that brain cells need to communicate with each other. Previous research has shown that thinning white matter is a biomarker for depression in the brain, and a 2014 study found that religion and spirituality is associated with thicker cortices in several brain regions linked to depression. The findings of the new study simply feed these correlations. The researchers discovered that those with high familial risk of depression and with important religious or spiritual beliefs, had brains that more closely resembled participants with low familial risk of depression. "We found that belief in the importance of [religion or spirituality] was associated with thicker cortices in bilateral parietal and occipital regions," the authors conclude. "As we had previously reported cortical thinning in these regions as a stable biomarker for depression risk, we hypothesised that the thicker cortices in those reporting high importance of [religious or spiritual] beliefs may serve as a compensatory or protective mechanism." As interesting as these connections are, for the time being, that's all they can be. Until we can say for sure the effect that religion has on white matter, let alone depression, this study and numerous others will need to be replicated, validated and stretched across greater time spans. When it comes to the human brain, there's no simple answer. This study has been published in Brain and Behaviour.
Interesting. The question is whether the belief precedes the thicker cortices or the other way around. Or that they have a common cause.
It could just be old fashioned (religious based) denial maybe that has formed these thicker areas of resistance, lol? IDK...just kidding, though there may be a true element there. There is definitely a correlation to a loss of grey matter and shrinking of the brain with long-term depression, leading to all kinds of other cognitive impairments...but they have also shown that that can be reversed with stimulation and treatment. I think it’s when epigenetics starts to get involved we will see some really cool stuff...as they have also shown that those genes that give us our neuroplasticity get turned off essentially with depression as well - so they are just now beginning to explore what shuts them off and on and how that can be best used to help someone....as it is with greater neuroplasticity that we have less chance of depression/anxiety/etc. and greater ability to deal with new stressors. Thanks for the input!!
It is interesting. I have done research into trauma and spirituality as part of my graduate studies. In my research, those with strong positive pre-existing spirituality had the best outcomes; however, those who did next best were actually those without any reliance on a framework of spirituality. Those with negative spiritual associations who tried to use spirituality to cope had the worst outcomes. I believe spirituality can be a huge resource when it is engaged with positively, but I tend to believe it is more about positive interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships, in the end. When spirituality helps people achieve that, it is a good resource. Yet, I also believe people can achieve that outside a specific framework of traditional spiritual belief. However, I will say those without spirituality who did well had communities of support that I believe functioned in a similar way to a spiritual framework. I also believe spirituality can actually be a detriment when it emphasizes negative attitudes. Not inconsistent with this study at all, yet maybe another layer yet to be fully sussed out. Yes, very interesting.
Cool, what a great perspective to share, I appreciate it! It makes total sense to me...I don’t really have much to add to what you said!
@Kgal Not sure who the pink dude is? Maybe that’s the flying spaghetti monster? Who said it had to be made of spaghetti anyhow? lololol I think it’s just the artist’s artistic license.
I've always been very attracted to the idea that the route to psychic wholeness is analagous to a spiritual journey, regardless of actual religious beliefs or lack of them. Jung's process of individuation, which is completely agnostic, is very much on that page. So this article makes a lot of sense to me. The other thing I know from experience is that if you are a member of a church community then there are going to be people with a caring attitude who will help you out and this can make a big difference, particularly to people without much support otherwise. As a religious person, I don't want to play down the importance of the religious content, but these support networks are as precious as gold quite apart from any spiritual aspects.
Totally. When my parent’s left the Mormon church...I was around 15 or 16. I think that may have been the hardest part for my mom was the loss of the social support structure the church offered. Yes, there is a particular quote by Jung...something along the lines of - In order to navigate and propel one forward for the second half of one’s life, one needs an experience of the numinous. I agree. Thanks for your thoughts!
Someone please buy me this...
Spoiler: More bits @Ren @Hostarius @John K
I'll buy it for you, but I'm replacing the horns with dildos. Holy crap, that's 500 bucks. Hm, how about I get you a smaller skull. Maybe of a mouse or shrew. That's just as good, right?
Very apt - I suspect it's checkmate in 3 for anyone who tangles with this lady in the wrong way LOL. I notice it's a black square she's standing on .....
Okay...disregard...now I’ll always picture it with dildo horns...thanks. (Not that I would ever pay that much for that thing) Spoiler: Haha...of course we love her!ILLUMINATI, HIDE!!
@John K I promised you some videos, here is a good one I remembered and I thought it would be perfect to post for you! Here is an excellent explanation of all the aspects of mindfulness, not just in meditation (which IS very difficult) but in our everyday lives (also difficult lol). So not just in regards to meditation necessarily. It helps to better cultivate a healthy mindset in general as well imho. Enjoy! 9 Attitudes Jon Kabat Zinn