Depression, spirituality, and faith

For young adults, depression can feel like a “shroud of darkness” threatening to engulf the future. Recognizing that depression ebbs and flows over time offers one beacon of hope. For some people we interviewed, religion or spirituality offered another. In Tia’s words, “faith got me through” and she realized that depression “is a part of life that others have went through it.” Other people felt that religion worsened the impact of depression by impinging on their emerging identity or delaying access to treatment. Still others found that the search for their own beliefs after leaving their parents’ faith was difficult, and heightened the absence of purpose they already felt in connection with depression.

Religion and faith can ease the impact of depression

Some young adults said faith gave them strength to go on even when depression sapped their will. Some looked to their spiritual beliefs to sustain hope, when depression made the future seem bleak. Some – even if they are not themselves religious — found they were unconditionally accepted in communities of faith in unique ways. These experiences did not appear to be influenced by whether people were connected to conventional religious practices or more eclectic spiritual ones.

Many people talked about drawing on faith as a reservoir of strength during their struggles with depression. Leanna recalled that when she is in the depths of depression, she prays to the spirit of the earth to “like please help me and that usually slowly gets me out of there.” Others drew on varied faiths in their darkest moments or as they contemplated what the future might bring.

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