Can Religion Adversely Affect Mental Health?

Religion, spirituality, and mental health are aspects that go hand in hand, and one’s religious views play a very important role in affecting their mental health, either favourably or adversely.  Our definition of mental health extends to include:

  • Owning up for one’s actions
  • Increasing the level of tolerance
  • Involving in social activities
  • Gathering courage to take risks
  • Accepting things which cannot be changed

Every religion has its own sets of beliefs and practices.  These might affect mental health either in a positive, or in a negative manner, thus leading to religion being related to various mental disorders. According to the Shrimad Bhagavad Gita, a balanced person is one who creates a perfect equilibrium between mind and associated emotions. Various studies have come up that have proved that religion is the cause of anxiety and stress in many individuals. Some religious practices are even the reason for the rise of guilt in an individual. Certain studies have also revealed that people who had extreme beliefs in religion, have actually suffered major psychotic breakdowns.

Religious ideas also result in the forming of delusions in psychiatric patients.  It might not be the direct reason for these delusions, but it certainly is the root cause behind them.  A perfect example of this would be someone who identifies himself or herself way too much with a Biblical character, so much so that they actually start believing themselves to be that character.

Another effect which religion has on mental health is the disturbance which is caused due to the reported contact with spirits. This has psychological effects that lead a person to behaving in a manner not expected of them.

Another common thing which happens due to religion is the conflict in beliefs. Different people follow a different set of beliefs, which many at a times leads to conflicting interests. Religion had been formed to fulfil the needs  of mankind, but nowadays, it has become a matter of life and death.

Depression, anxiety and stress are some of the major effects which religion has on mental health. This may occur due to strong religious beliefs or certain religious practices.

India is a country which is known to have a number of religions, such as, Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Sikhism, Jainism and Islam. Religion has been associated with this country since various years, and spirituality has always been an important part of the lives of almost all Indians.

Even though certain practices in religion, such as, meditation, yoga, and prayer, are considered to be extremely beneficial for a person’s mental health, too much of it can also have adverse effects, putting you in a constant state of guilt and anxiety. Obsessive compulsive disorder is one of the conditions which occur in people who are highly obsessed about cleanliness,  which is an extremely important factor in almost all the religions. Apart from OCD, some people have also accepted that they feel overtly anxious and depressed due to the sins of their past lives, that keep calling out to them.