Is Spirituality the New Holy Grail of Fighting Depression?

A new study finds what happens to your brain when you believe in something bigger than yourself

Believing in a higher power may bring your brain — and your mood — to a higher level.

According to researchers at Columbia University, those who pray or mediate on a regular basis may alter their brain to fight off depression. During the experiment, 103 adults — who were either at high or low risk of suffering from this disease due to family history — were asked what role religion or spirituality played in their life. A brain MRI was followed by this questionnaire.

The results: Those who gave religion or spirituality a top score were shown to have a thicker brain cortex in the exact region where the cortex was thinning in those who were non-believers…and who were at high risk for depression.

"The new study links this extremely large protective benefit of spirituality or religion to previous studies which identified large expanses of cortical thinning in specific regions of the brain in adult offspring of families at high risk for major depression," said Lisa Miller, professor and director of Clinical Psychology and director of the Spirituality Mind Body Institute at Teachers College, Columbia University, as reported by ScienceDaily.com.

In a separate but similar study conducted by Miller and team back in 2012, they discovered a 90 percent decrease in “major depression” in the spirituality-minded adult offspring of parents who suffered from this condition.

The take-away — whether depression is in your genes, is part of your life or you’re just like everybody else who will find themselves down in the dumps from time to time, perhaps a few minutes a day of silence and surrender will make a difference.

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