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Religion, Spirituality, and Depression in Adolescent Psychiatric Outpatients

Dew, Rachel E. MD, MHS*†; Daniel, Stephanie S. PhD†‡; Goldston, David B. PhD*; Koenig, Harold G. MD, MHS

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: March 2008 - Volume 196 - Issue 3 - p 247-251
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e3181663002
Brief Report

This study examines in a preliminary manner the relationship between multiple facets of religion/spirituality and depression in treatment-seeking adolescents. One hundred seventeen psychiatric outpatients aged 12 to 18 completed the brief multidimensional measure of religiousness/spirituality, the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), a substance abuse inventory. Controlling for substance abuse and demographic variables, depression was related to feeling abandoned or punished by God (p < 0.0001), feeling unsupported by one's religious community (p = 0.0158), and lack of forgiveness (p < 0.001). These preliminary results suggest that clinicians should assess religious beliefs and perceptions of support from the religious community as factors intertwined with the experience of depression, and consider the most appropriate ways of addressing these factors that are sensitive to adolescents' and families' religious values and beliefs.

From the *Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC; †Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, Winston-Salem, NC; ‡Center for Youth, Family, and Community Partnerships, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, NC; and §Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center, Veterans Administration Medical Center, Durham, NC.

Supported by the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center (to R.E.D.), a grant from the John Templeton Foundation (to R.E.D. and H.G.K.), NIH Grant K23-MH623433 (to S.S.D.), and NIH Grant K24-MH66252 (to D.B.G.).

Send reprint requests to Rachel E. Dew, MD, 300 Pebble Beach Drive, Mebane, NC 27302. E-mail

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.