Can Medicine Integrate Spiritual and Religious Practice?

Traditional Western medicine has not emphasized spiritual well-being, but new evidence suggests that spiritual and religious practices have a significant impact on mental health. Higher levels of spirituality and religiousness are linked to lower levels of depression, suicide, and substance misuse, and can guard against PTSD. Studies show spiritual practice can affect brain structure. Having a sustained spiritual practice can give a sense of love during despair, resulting in psychological growth. People who regularly attend religious services are less likely to be hospitalized, and those with a spiritual practice report a better quality of life. Spiritual practices can be individualistic and do not need to be religious. Many practitioners integrate spiritual practices with treatment protocols.

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