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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Spirituality and remission of major depression
by McCaffrey, Thomas, Psy.D., Adler School of Professional Psychology, 2014, 165; 3662170
Abstract (Summary)

Depression continues to be a major national concern. Research also indicates that an individual's spirituality has contributed to positive health outcomes in a number of arenas, including both physical health and mental health. There have, however, been relatively few studies that have explored the direct relationship between spiritual well-being and recovery from depression.

A number of studies have indicated that the application of spiritual domains in coping with health challenges have direct implications for a sense of well-being. Some have suggested that spirituality can fulfill various health-enabling functions, including the provision of comfort, a sense of belonging, the encouragement of inner strength and acceptance, the enhancement of empowerment and control, and the creation of meaning in one's life. Others have concluded that spiritual faith is a life-transcending force that seems to promote the fullest sense of remembered wellness because it is an extremely soothing belief, disconnecting unhealthy logic and worries.

While there have been a number of definitions of spirituality employed in the research, the common theme is that it has both an existential or intrinsic element – an overall sense of meaning/peace – as well as a religious or extrinsic component – a faith in the transcendent. The aim of this study was to investigate whether spiritual well-being, defined as the combination of these two elements, contributed to the remission of depressive symptoms for individuals diagnosed with major depression. It was hypothesized that those individuals with the highest levels of overall spiritual well-being would enjoy the greatest degree of improvement in their symptoms when they enter treatment for major depression.

The sample of study participants, recruited by a major Midwestern Research Hospital, included 60 individuals enrolled in an evaluation of the relationship between treatment intervention and the remission of depressive symptoms. Their level of spirituality was measured at study onset by the administration of the Spiritual Well Being Scale (SWB) and their depression symptoms were periodically measured during the course of treatment and at its termination using the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAM-D).

Contrary to the study hypothesis, the results demonstrated that individuals with a moderate level of SWB enjoyed a greater level of improvement in their symptoms than did participants with either high or low levels of SWB. The same was true for the two major components of the overall scale – Existential Well Being (EWB) and Religious Well Being (RWB). It was the moderate EWB and RWB group that enjoyed the highest degree of remission.

This study is the first of its kind to evaluate all three components comprising overall spiritual well-being. The results suggest that it is the balance between an internal and external locus of control – the intrinsic and extrinsic factors – that best fosters recovery in individuals suffering from the symptoms of major depression.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: McNeilly, Catherine G.
School: Adler School of Professional Psychology
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-B 76/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social research, Psychology, Spirituality
Keywords: Depression, Depression Remission, Existential Well-Being, Spiritual Well-Being, Spirituality, Well-Being
Publication Number: 3662170
ISBN: 978-1-321-52538-0
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