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Religious beliefs and meditation protect against depression

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People with deep spiritual and religious beliefs are far less likely to be depressed. The beliefs, together with spiritual practices such as meditation, seem to thicken the brain’s cortex that is associated with feelings of depression and anxiety, a new study has found.

People who are depressed, or are more likely to be depressed, have thinner cortices in the regions of the brain associated with the condition.

But a study of 108 people discovered that those who were religious or spiritual, or who meditated, had thicker cortises, which help prevent bouts of depression, researchers from Columbia University discovered after using brain MRI scans.

Previous studies have found something similar: people with religious beliefs were far less likely to suffer depression, even if they had a genetic disposition for depression from their parents.

(Source: JAMA Psychiatry, 2013; 1; doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.3067)

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