Religion as problem, religion as solution: religious buffers of the links between religious/spiritual struggles and well-being/mental health
Previous studies have established robust links between religious/spiritual struggles (r/s struggles) and poorer well-being and psychological distress. A critical issue involves identifying the religious factors that buffer this relationship. This is the first study to empirically address this question. Specifically, it examines four religious factors (i.e., religious commitment, life sanctification, religious support, religious hope) as potential buffers of the links between r/s struggle and one indicator of subjective well-being (i.e., happiness) and one indicator of psychological distress (i.e., depressive symptoms).
We utilized a cross-sectional design and a nationally representative sample of American adults (N = 2140) dealing with a wide range of major life stressors.
We found that the interactions between r/s struggle and all potential moderators were significant in predicting happiness and/or depression. The linkage between r/s struggle and lower levels of happiness was moderated by higher levels of each of the four proposed religious buffers. Religious commitment and life sanctification moderated the ties between r/s struggles and depressive symptoms.
The findings underscore the multifaceted character of religion: Paradoxically, religion may be a source of solutions to problems that may be an inherent part of religious life.
KeywordsReligious/spiritual struggles Happiness Depressive symptoms Religious commitment Sanctification Religious support Religious hope
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