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In the News: Researchers Find that Church People are Less Depressed!

Recently, scientists at the University of Saskatchewan have discovered that church attendance has a dramatic effect on depression. This is the conclusion of a Canadian survey published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry by Saskatchewan researchers Lloyd Balbuena, Marilyn Baetz, and Rudy Bowen.

Scientists at the department of psychiatry at the University of Saskatchewan are unable to explain why this is so. The head of the department, Marilyn Baetz, said that controlling for church membership, age, income, medical history, marital status and education offered no explanations for the dramatically lower rates of depression found within church communities. Their conclusion is that some "unmeasurable" factor is responsible for the reduced rates of depression.

The Saskatchewan scientists examined data from the longitudinal National Population Health Survey, following approximately 12,500 undepressed people from 1994 to 2008.

An interesting side-conclusion of the study was that non-church people who identified as "spiritual" did NOT share the relative immunity from depression! Dr.Baetz suggested that,"“It might be something about the organized component of religion that is the healthful component.”

The scientists cautioned that it cannot be concluded that depressed persons could benefit from a prescription of church attendance. The study at this time only offers the observed results over a 14-year time span, not a definitive cure for depression.

Canadian Journal of Psychiatry
Vol 58, No 4, April 2013

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