Religiosity buffers effects of some stressors on depression but exacerbates others

J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 1998 May;53(3):S118-26. doi: 10.1093/geronb/53b.3.s118.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Depression* / etiology
  • Depression* / prevention & control
  • Depression* / psychology
  • Female
  • Financing, Personal
  • Health Status
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Religion and Psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological*