Does religion help people with mentall ilnesses?

How do people with serious mentall ilness respond to religion?Ive have to say that in my case it helped me when i had faith in it.How does it affect mentally insane people.or people with pschychosys or mental illneses which make the brain "apart"from reality?Are they aware of religion in general?Do they understand theological concepts?Or they are completely out of touch from it?

Sounds like something that would have to be a case by case evaluation. It’s to broad for a general statement especially considering psychology and psychiatry is not as concrete as other fields and requires a bit of trust in personal evaluations. In general I think almost everyone, if not everyone, who is an adult can’t find a connection to god and morality.

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I understand that in general religion promotes general mental health. But I very much doubt it has any affect one way or the other on severe mental illness. Bad religion will make it worse of course.

I agree that it’s probably a case-by-case basis. In some situations, faith can provide enough optimism to help people with minimal treatment.

One thing I often think that is not paid attention to is that for many people who have disorders , or trauma, that ties into people being these social “Addams” or they struggle with empathy but still has faith it helps them. That even if they don’t have a strong emotional response to suffering, and it’s easy for them to ignore it , they still have faith and part of their faith is trusting in his word and so when they read in james 2 that true faith is not merely belief but actions, even if they are not good at feeling sympathetic towards someone like a homeless person, they understand that God still asks us to feed them. Even if they grew up in a very violent household and have clinically diagnosed PTSD from trauma and their gut instinct is to harm whoever is making them mad, they realize that anger is natural and anger can be healthy, but that they can’t sin in their anger even iff they believe it’s the best solution. God is still the same God regardless of the person involved. When it says that Jesus faced all our struggles, I believe that it means it. So for those who struggle with empathy, but still choose to do good, they know that at times Jesus also was faced with apathy towards something, or maybe jesus was in a bad mood and preferred to be alone, but when there was good to be done he always did it.

I also agree that it teaches hope. It allows monsters and victims, to believe in hope for change.


Case by case definitely… there are many kinds of mental illness and many causes. But sometimes the way we think is a big part of it and in that case our religion or philosophy can have a big role in our psychopathology. If so a change to a completely different way of thinking can be extremely helpful. You can think of it like changing our internal environment, and in the same way that a change of environment is very helpful in dealing with substance abuse problems, changing our religion or philosophy can help deal with bad thinking habits.


Most religious adherents - as in the vast, overwhelming majority - are in stage I; certainty, unexaminable certainty. They know in a folk, superstitious, ritual way that all will be well for them and theirs ‘because God’ (aka the Spirit, Mystery, Way), regardless of the arbitrary, absurd, paradoxes involved.

“The amassed research indicates that higher levels of religious belief and practice (known in social science as “religiosity”) is associated with better mental health. In particular, the research suggests that higher levels of religiosity are associated with lower rates of depression, anxiety, substance use disorder, and suicidal behavior. “

To be clear, this is referring to prevention. For people trying to recover, there might be data but I’d have to look elsewhere.


My worry is for those diagnosed with serious mental illness who stop taking medication or participating in psychotherapy preferring to read the Bible and pray. While religiosity does seem to have the preventative value it can become an obsessive distraction from treating illness. Very few denominations eschew medical treatment for bodily illness but disturbance to mental illness can make many things confusing.


Totally concur. Though it’s not unreasonable to be a little skeptical of various treatments. The success rate in treatment of mental illness leaves much to be desired.

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Enjoyed your blog article. I think you are on target with people who are like most of us, fairly healthy mentally and trying to hang on. I think religion does well with helping us through situational issues, life changes and such. In some ways, it is similar to cognitive behavior therapy, in that it allows us to step back and reframe the issues we face. But it is not Xyprexa. As you say, treatment of mental illness is tough.

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Both of you make good points. We should never treat prayer as some kind of alternative medicine, we wouldn’t do it for cancer so perhaps it’s time to treat ALL illness as illness, this doesn’t just apply to mental health issues BTW.
On the other hand all these pills usually come with terrible side effects. Prayer seems a better choice in comparison sometimes…
Personality I suffer from OCD and I would not want to take medication, not unless my life depended on it. Also, I’m not the sort of person to talk about it, so what’s left? Even if I were, I don’t think it would be possible to access therapy, not at my level of illness. And I do notice it going away with my religiosity “going up”…sounds clumsy but it’s the best way I can put it lol

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Never /I whole heatrdly disagree.Prayer does help (maybe)but not for everyone

This is true. There are drugs which can address particular symptoms but, as @marta notes, often with unwelcome side effects. Lets face it mental well being is less well understood than physiology of the rest of the body.


I said that in certain context. If I had a choice between pills that make me sleepy, nauseatious, loss of appetite, ohh sometimes they can make other mental issues worst, plus there is a chance of psychotic episode in case you accidentally take wrong dose…yeah, I think I know what I would do first

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You make me think of what I read recently regarding meeting the needs of the elderly in nursing homes in the book Being Mortal by Atul Gawande which Randy had recommended. He questioned just how much we should ask people to sacrifice in order to be kept safe a little longer. Some are strapped into wheel chairs and most lack all privacy and are forced to live a regimented life in order to make their care more efficiently met. Those who suffer from hallucinations and have a preoccupation with self harm can be kept safer by treating those symptoms but only they can say whether the quality of life the side effects entails is tolerable.

Edited to share a video my wife just told me about, an episode of the PBS series Frontline about the Being Mortal book.


I think that one thing also , is that some people end up with doctors when they would have been better off with a counselor snd sometimes someone ends up with a counselor and a doctor would have better. I think often counseling would have been beneficial, but they are instead lead down a pharmaceutical path.

I see it with pain management. When my back got broken and I had to have spinal fusion and hip surgery there was a point when I switched doctors because one was constantly wanting to up there dosages and another wanted to lower them. I went with the doctor who understood I did not want to rely on pills, but rely on rehabilitation and body conditioning. I now take zero pills and have not for about 9-10 years. I have a friend from the same time who is still taking pills a decade later through management.


Your story really illustrates what I was trying to say(kind of).
It really pays to address the issues rather than rely on the pills, right? And remember how doctors were trigger happy when it came to antibiotics? Well, it all changed now and some now say it caused more harm than good.
I won’t be surprised if one day someone says it about painkillers and “happy pills”

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I don’t know enough about all of it to be honest. I think there are a lot of reasons why someone can have a some kind of mental/mood issue.

  1. Something traumatic happened/ is happening.

  2. They don’t feel happy with where they are in life. A bad relationship, loneliness, unhealthy, bad body image because they want to look more athletic, or even they just don’t like their job or they feel like they should be able to do more but can’t. I meet young men , as in younger than me and around low 20s who are dissatisfied with life. They are overweight and working in fast food and still at home with their parents and they want to be independent in a job they fill pays well and is respected and they look and feel healthier and more fit.

  3. They have a stagnant lifestyle where they just sit around all the time and eat crappy food. Our bodies use energy and nutrition. That’s what we eat, drink, breath, absorb through our skin like sunlight for vitamin D and so on. Our tears, our blood, and even the amino acids in our brains comes from these things. A body built on doughnuts is not the same as a body built on broccoli. I believe that a lot of depression is caused by lack of sunlight, they don’t actually believe people are more suicidal in winter because of holidays but because of living to far north to get enough sunlight to produce enough vitamin D when they spend most time inside. So getting people to drink more water, eat healthier, cut out crap in their diets and spend a bit more time outside in the sun seems to make people happier .

  4. They can have some kind of physical damage. Something is off because something is wrong with their bodies snd they need surgery or they need to take hormones or some form of medication.

So whenever I meet someone whose mentally unhappy I try to help talk with them as friend, network with them to get friends in a good circle of people and get at some of the top reasons they are not happy. If it’s because they are overweight and don’t have confidence, I will help them with a workout plan, help find them someone in their same level of fitness to work out with and help them encourage one another. If people are not happy with their job and it’s not a good paying job I can often help people find work with local contractors, myself, or others I know from my personal or work life. They can get a job where the eh can learn a skill and have a real ladder of success to climb. If it’s diet related I will go shopping with them and help them create a meal plan. We start with what they have in their life. A lot of men and women nowadays never really learned to cook. They can’t name 10 spices and so on. They have no idea how to measure food. If I say show me 50 calories of ketchup they don’t know if it’s a teaspoon, or 2 tablespoons. If I say show me 100 calories of Pepsi they have no idea. They don’t even know how to eyeball 6 ounces from 14 ounces. So I help them with dishes geared towards better understanding it. If they are in a relationship that’s struggling I help set them up with other couples that have went through it.

If that stuff is not helping then I always suggest talk with a counselor and then let that counselor guide you more towards psychology or psychiatry.

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Neither do I. I would never ever pretend to be psychologist or try to give someone advice on these matters. But I have to say I think you are spot on regarding all these factors. Now if someone was happy regardless of having crappy life, I would say THAT would be a sign of craziness!

I have to interject here and say I think taking a vit D pill is better. I won’t go into detail but will just say this: skin cancer.

I’m always trying to do exactly the same. This isn’t trying to be a replacement counsellor or doctor because they wouldn’t do all these things, best they can do is refer you to some kind of life coach.

Another issue I see is complete lack of financial knowledge. I have given advice in this field that changed people’s life…and it was REALLY basic stuff. They should teach things like that at school, because everyone has to feed themselves and manage money, and if they don’t, it often has disastrous consequences on mental health.

Looking at this from this perspective, Religion does not have impact on mental health because I can’t see correlation between praying and eating healthy foods and being good with money etc
Just proves how complicated it really is.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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