Study suggests women who leave church more likely to suffer mental illness
Published 02 January 2008 | Jennifer Gold
A new study has suggested that women who stop attending church are three times more likely to suffer from anxiety or alcohol dependency than women who keep their faith continually.
By contrast the study suggested that men who became less religious did not suffer from mental illness more than those who kept their faith.
The lead study author, Dr Joanna Maselko, of Temple University, Philadelphia said that women experienced problems as a result of losing interest in religion because it was more likely to mean they lose friends and social contacts as well.
According to the Telegraph, Dr Maselko said, "Women are more integrated into the social networks of their religious communities.
"When they stop attending religious services, they lose access to that network and all its potential benefits. Men may not be as integrated into the religious community and so may not suffer the negative consequences of leaving."
The study questioned 718 adults and was published in Social Psychiatry and Epidemiology.
The results of the study found that seven per cent of women who were constantly involved in their religion had symptoms of anxiety disorder. However, among women who were less active in religion than when they were a child, 21 per cent had symptoms of anxiety, reports the Telegraph.
Women who had become less involved in religion were also found to be three times more likely to have alcohol problems than those who kept interest in their faith.
Dr Maselko said: "A person's current level of spirituality is only part of the story. We can only get a better understanding of the relationship between health and spirituality by knowing a person's religious history," reports the Telegraph.