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Saturday, September 06, 2008

Religion and health: Some teens more, not less, depressed due to religion?

Science Daily informs us that religion may make teens from certain races more depressed:
Previous research has shown that teens who are active in religious services are depressed less often because it provides these adolescents with social support and a sense of belonging.

But new research has found that this does not hold true for all adolescents, particularly for minorities and some females. The study found that white and African-American adolescents generally had fewer symptoms of depressive at high levels of religious participation. But for some Latino and Asian-American adolescents, attending church more often was actually affecting their mood in a negative way.
Why?
The results suggest that something unique was affecting adolescents within these two groups when they went to church often. Petts believes that the traditional nature of religion for these two groups may be conflicting with the ideals and customs of mainstream American society. This conflict may be putting additional stress on these youth as they try to balance competing principles and traditions, he said.

"Asian and Latino youth who are highly involved in a culturally distinct church may have a more difficult time balancing the beliefs of their family and their traditional culture with mainstream society. Their religious institution is telling them what should be important in their lives and how to behave, and mainstream society is saying something else," he said.
Here's a thought: It is possible that the Asian American and Latino youth are disproportionately from families that have not lived in the United States as long, and the teens may not realize that the consumerist values aimed at them in advertisements are simply not compatible with a spiritual tradition. White and African-American teens from a religious background would more likely take that for granted, thus reducing conflict by deciding for one or the other.

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