Natural Health News – Regular meditation or other spiritual or religious practice alters brain structure in a way that provides protection against depression -. especially in people who are at high risk of contracting the disease
It has long been accepted that spiritual or religious practices can induce a sense of relaxation and welfare, as well as a sense of belonging that has a protective effect, but now researchers at Columbia University have shown that it can also lead to thickening of the cerebral cortex -. structure in the outermost layers of neural tissue sometimes referred to as “gray matter”
This new study, published online by Archives of General Psychiatry , involved 103 adults, either high or low risk of depression, based on family history.
People were asked how much they value religion or spirituality and how often they attended religious services for a period of five years. MRIs showed thicker crusts in subjects who gave great importance on religion or spirituality than those who did not. The relatively thicker cortex is precisely the same brain regions that had shown otherwise thinning in people at high risk of depression.
Although more research is needed, the results suggest that spirituality or religion can protect against major depression by thickening of the cerebral cortex and cortical thinning counter that normally occur with major depression. The study is the first published research to suggest an effect of physical protection of spirituality and religion against depression.
“New links study this very large protective benefit of spirituality or religion to previous studies that identified large areas of cortical thinning in specific regions of the brain in adult children of families at high risk of depression greater, “said one of the study authors Lisa Miller, professor and director of clinical psychology and director of the Institute of Spirituality mind body at Teachers College, Columbia University.
The co-author Myrna Weissman, professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at Columbia University and head of the department of Clinical Epidemiology-genetics at New York State Psychiatric Institute, adds: “Our beliefs and our moods are reflected in our brain and new imaging techniques that can begin to see this. the brain is a remarkable organ. not only controls but is controlled by our mood. “
previous studies by the same researchers showed a decrease 90% in major depression in adults who said that spirituality or religiosity and whose parents suffered from the disease highly valued. While regular church attendance was not necessary, a strong personal importance placed on spirituality or religion was added protection against major depression in people who were at high familial risk.