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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 1998 May;53(3):S118-26.

Religiosity buffers effects of some stressors on depression but exacerbates others.

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Human Population Laboratory, Public Health Institute, Berkeley, California, USA.


Although religiosity is protective for mortality and morbidity, its relationship with depression is unclear. We used the 1994 Alameda County Study survey of 2,537 subjects aged 50-102 to analyze associations between two forms of religiosity and depression as well as the extent to which religiosity buffers relationships between stressors and depression. Non-organizational religiosity included prayer and importance of religious and spiritual beliefs; organizational religiosity included attendance at services and other activities. Non-organizational religiosity had no association with depression; organizational religiosity had a negative relationship that weakened slightly with the addition of health controls. Both forms of religiosity buffered associations with depression for non-family stressors, such as financial and health problems. However, non-organizational religiosity exacerbated associations with depression for child problems, and organizational religiosity exacerbated associations with depression for marital problems, abuse, and caregiving. Religiosity may help those experiencing non-family stressors, but may worsen matters for those facing family crises.

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