Influence of religious aspects and personal beliefs on psychological behavior: focus on anxiety disorders
Agorastos Agorastos,1 Cüneyt Demiralay,1 Christian G Huber2
1Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany; 2Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland
Abstract: The current paper presents literature relevant to the relationship of religiosity, spirituality, and personal beliefs with mental health and, in particular, anxiety disorders as an empirical narrative review, providing an overview on the most important and clinically relevant research results on the topic. The relationship between religiosity/spirituality, personal beliefs (ie, magical ideation and paranormal beliefs), and mental health has lately been studied extensively, and results have indicated significant associations among these variables. However, scientific approaches to this field are complex and multidimensional, partly leading to poor operationalization, incomparable data, and contradictory results. Literature demonstrates that higher religiosity/spirituality and magical ideation scores have often been associated with increased obsessive–compulsive traits. Similar results could not be confidently replicated for other anxiety disorders. However, it is still unclear if these differences suggest a specific association with obsessive–compulsive traits and reflect deviating etiopathogenetic and cognitive aspects between obsessive–compulsive disorder and other anxiety disorders, or if these results are biased through other factors. Religiosity/spirituality and personal beliefs constitute important parameters of human experience and deserve greater consideration in the psychotherapeutic treatment of psychiatric disorders.
Keywords: spirituality, religiosity, religion, paranormal beliefs, magical ideation anxiety disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, OCD, anxiety, coping
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