Religious attendance and social adjustment as protective against depression: A 10-year prospective study
Yakov Barton, PhD, Lisa Miller, PhD, Priya Wickramaratne, PhD, Marc Gameroff, PhD, & Myrna Weissmanb, PhD
Background: Previous research has identified elevated social adjustment and frequent religious attendance as protective against depression. The present study aims to examine the association of frequency of religious services attendance with subsequent depression, while accounting for the effects of social adjustment. Method: Participants were 173 adult offspring of depressed and nondepressed parents, followed longitudinally over 25 years. Diagnosis was assessed with the Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia—Lifetime Version. The Social Adjustment Scale—Self Report (SAS—SR) was used to assess social adjustment and frequency of religious services attendance was self-reported. In a logistic regression analysis, major depression at 20 years was used as the outcome measure and the frequency of religious services attendance and social adjustment variables at 10 years as predictors. Results: Frequent religious services attendance was found to protect against subsequent depression at a trend level. High functioning social adjustment was found to protect against subsequent depression, especially within the immediate and extended family. Adults without a depressed parent who reported attending religious services atleast once a month had a lower likelihood of subsequent depression. Among adults with a depressed parent, those with high functioning social adjustment had a lower likelihood of subsequent depression. Limitations: Measurement of social adjustment was non-specific to religious services. Conclusions: Frequent religious attendance may protect against major depression, independent from the effects of social adjustment. This protective quality may be attenuated in adults with a depressed parent. High functioning social adjustment may be protective only among offspring of depressed parents.