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Daily Spiritual Exercises
By Dr. Neil Nedley

            An inner religious experience has been found to be effective in recovery from depression, according to several studies. The results are cited in Figure 11.

            For just under a year, researchers from Duke University in North Carolina used diagnostic interviews to crack the emotional well-being of 94 individuals, each of whom was more than 60 years of age. They all had been diagnosed as suffering from depression upon discharge from a hospital.”

           Some of their tests and questions focused on the study participant's level of inner religiosity. To ascertain this level of inner faith, researchers used a ten-question evaluation test that had been developed with the help of Christian ministers and Jewish rabbis. They also established the level of each participant's external religious practice—activities such as service atten­dance and involvement in church-related clubs and activities. During the course of the study 54 percent of the participants recovered from their depression.

           Religion helped in that recovery. "Depressed patients with higher intrinsic (inner) religiosity scores had more rapid remissions than patients with lower scores," according to the study. In fact, patients recovered from depression 70 percent sooner with every ten-point increase in the religiosity evaluation test score. But the researchers found that external religious activity had much less of an impact.

           The Duke team urges psychiatrists to initiate inquiries into a patient's religious faith, especially when patients are depressed, since "these beliefs may bring comfort and facilitate coping."

           Other studies have found that strong religious faith is not only helpful in treating depression, but also in preventing it.

           Many studies have suggested that going through the forms of religion without firm belief does little, if any, good to overall mental health. Thus, I do not emphasize a casual reading of the Bible, but a serious study that contemplates the themes of scripture. Reading and meditating on a chapter of the book of Proverbs each day (with the chapter number corresponding to the day of the month — there are 31 chapters) has been helpful for many of my depressed patients. Memorizing and reciting a text a week that summarizes or succinctly states a beautiful Scriptural idea is also very helpful. One new program that has met with wonderful worldwide success in accomplishing these objectives is called FAST.

           This concludes the presentation of the seven general lifestyle elements listed in Figure 1 . We will now look at several lifestyle treatments that will not apply in general, but will be helpful to certain people with specific needs.


DepressionFrom the book
Depression, the Way Out,
Nedley Publishing, Ardmore, OK, 2001
Neil Nedley, M.D.,
Nedley Health Solutions
P. O. Box 1565
Ardmore, OK 73402

Neil Nedley, M.D.,
Nedley Health Solutions
P. O. Box 1565
Ardmore, OK 73402