Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could pop a vitamin and stave off depression? Research shows that supplements ranging from fish oil to Vitamin B12 may be helpful to depression, but what ultimately emerges from such studies is the fact that there isn’t one magic bullet.
A more holistic approach, using a combination of therapies in a personalized treatment plan for each individual, is what we recommend. Talk therapy using one or more methods, diet and nutrition, exercise, group therapy, and medication are all options.
But no matter the treatment approaches used, we always recommend one particular, yet underused, modality be included:Vitamin S. Spirituality.
Spirituality Changes The Brain
A few weeks ago we blogged about an exciting new study which shows that people who prioritize spirituality have a thicker cerebral cortex, which is linked to less depression than a thinner cortex.
There are many expressions of clinical depression, but one thing most people with depression do say is they doubt their life has meaning or purpose. Spirituality gives life meaning and purpose.
For us, belief in a loving, beneficent Creator, personally involved in each person’s life, is necessary to living life with a sense of meaning and purpose. From our personal point of view, belief is necessary to spirituality.*
However, belief isn’t enough–action is key.
Sure, spirituality includes belief and faith but for spirituality to be complete, is is best expressed through actions. In our case these include: prayerful meditation, traditional prayer/worship, community services, volunteer work, tithing and giving of charity, music, song, dance, textual study, traditional religious observances, and other spiritual-religious activities that individuals with traditional Jewish beliefs engage in.
If volunteer and charity work, meditating away stress, taking contemplative walks in the outdoors, connecting with family, worship, prayer, or any other positive activities give you a sense of life’s meaning and purpose, then that may be part of your definition of spirituality. If you aren’t sure what spirituality means to you but want to explore, discuss the topic with supportive friends, mentors, family, and/or clergy.
In any case, make sure you and your therapist include spiritual exploration and growth in your depression treatment plan. It will most likely be something you explore outside the therapist’s office, but it still can be an important part of your personal therapy process in the treatment of depression, other mental illness, and addiction. And it’s not just spiritual pursuits—much inner growth occurs outside the therapist’s office.
*Obviously, your own view of spirituality will differ with ours.
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Last reviewed: 20 Jan 2014