Is ‘Spiritual But Not Religious’ a risk to one’s mental health?

A study published in this month’s British Journal of Psychiatry, says spiritual but not religious people are more likely to develop mental problems and dependence on drugs. From CNN’s religion blog:

Can being spiritual but not religious lead to mental health issues? The answer is yes, according to a recent study.

The study, published in the January edition of the British Journal of Psychiatry, says spiritual but not religious people, as opposed to people who are religious, agnostic or atheist, were more likely to develop a “mental disorder,” “be dependent on drugs” and “have abnormal eating attitudes,” like bulimia and anorexia.

“People who have spiritual beliefs outside of the context of any organized religion are more likely to suffer from these maladies,” said Michael King, a professor at University College London and the head researcher on the project.

Thirty percent of respondents who identified as spiritual said they had used drugs, a number that was nearly twice as much as the 16% of religious respondents who said they had used drugs, according to the study. Among the spiritual respondents, 5% said they were dependent on drugs, while 2% of religious respondents identified as dependent.

On mental health issues, the study said spiritual but not religious people were more likely to suffer from “any neurotic disorder,” “mixed anxiety/depressive disorders” or “depression” than their religious counterparts. Overall, 19% of spiritual respondents said they suffered from a neurotic disorder, while 15% of religious respondents responded the same way.

The study was conducted with the government of the United Kingdom, which asked the questions as part of a larger psychiatric study. The project sampled 7,403 people, finding that nearly 19% of England’s population is spiritual but not religious. That number is higher in the United States, where, in a 2002 poll sample of 729 adults, 33% identified themselves as “spiritual but not religious.”

Read full post here. What do you make of this? Any ideas why the “spiritual but not religious” among us might be more susceptible to mental health problems?

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