Religion and Mental Health

**I’m going to preface this post with an disclaimer. If you are a religious person I am not attacking you, your beliefs or your religion. I am just sharing my experiences. That is all. Also please do not attack me in the comments or attempt to convince me that I am wrong.**

Growing up in church I never thought in all my life that I would have lose my faith. My mom took my brother and I to Sunday school every week, enrolled us in vacation Bible school every summer and read us Bible stories at home.

I took being a Christian pretty seriously. I was encouraged to not be lukewarm about my faith but rather to be passionate about it.

In high school I remember reading a devotional about the importance of putting God and others before yourself. I had always had poor self-esteem so my depressed, self-critical mind understood this in an over the top way. I comprehended it as that I am not important at all and that I should do whatever I can to help others even if it’s at the expense of my feelings/health.

I went to a relatively small Christian college because I wanted to learn the trade of journalism as well as grow in my faith.

In my second year I took theology with one of my favorite professors. Towards the end of the semester I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t actually sure about Christianity anymore. I was devastated because I thought my foundation was so strong, but it cracked in two.

For two years I searched to find my faith. I spoke with friends and Biblical/theological scholars; I took numerous classes and read many books. I could not grasp what I once had so after graduation I gave up.

I struggled to understand the world through a skeptic’s eyes which is quite different from how a Christian views the world. I had to figure out what I believed now that I was a non-religious individual.

I have found value in myself, given myself permission to rest and I don’t have to live up to a “higher being’s” expectations of me that I would never meet.

I am content in my skepticism and have no desire to go back to Christianity. I have found strength within myself to cope with mental illness and get through issues on my own. I believe in my own power which is something I never did before.

Since I always ask a question at the end, I won’t make this one any different. How has religion helped/hindered your mental health journey?

Remember everyone, we all have different experiences and points of view. Let’s not push our beliefs on to others.

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98 Replies to “Religion and Mental Health”

      1. Sounds great I’m so excited to have found your blog and excited to follow your journey!

  1. Great topic. Religion has helped me fight this illness in so many unconscious ways. It helps when I don’t even know it sometimes. I am the 1st person to tell someone I believe in Jesus and I am a Christian. I am also the 1st to tell you he does not heal me in the way I expect, not even by biblical standards. When I had my 1st psychotic break I thought I was possessed and that God had abandoned me. That was 6 years ago and I was confused and devastated. To this day I am still being demonically tormented. But, its one day at a time. The one scripture I hold on to is 2 Corinthians 12:9. It is his strength that keeps me strong because I am weak. At other times, when I am in complete darkness I cannot see the light until the darkness passes. But, when it does and the imbalances reset and I can hold on to my life scripture if nothing else. That is all I have. That is my hope. I don’t experience God the way other people do and it hurts. But, I am learning to accept that. So religion for me is my lifeline. However, only certain Christians understand where I am coming from. Thank you again for this post and this is only “my” experience.

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience! I love this platform that we are all able to share our stories together and learn from one another’s journeys .

      1. Is there any way you can delete my comment from earlier? I am very sorry. I didn’t know how to delete it myself and I also didn’t know how to contact you to ask you. I shouldn’t have asked that so publicly and just for some personal reasons, I’d rather it not be on here, if possible. Once again, I am really sorry. And thank you.

      2. I don’t think I can! I would contact James who actually runs the blog, he might have the power to do so. Sorry I wasn’t more help!

    2. I was wondering if you could explain some of the ways that you are demonically tormented because I am concerned that this is happening to me as well. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing, that is totally ok. When I read your reply I was just like woah, maybe I can find out for sure what is going on with me now.

      1. It really started when I was 9. I saw the end of the world. I saw the stars fall from heaven and then the moon turn to blood (which is in the bible.) Then as I got older I would physically feel evil spirits entering and exiting my body. Then the dreams got worse. I was taken to hell. Stabbed, shot in the mouth, raped and just recently demons poured acid on me and I got feel my skin melting in my sleep. I am actually feeling all this stuff. Things touching me, foul smells, weird voices in my room, dark presences over my body between stage 1 and stage 2 sleep. I could go on forever and it only happens at night. It used to be in dreams, now I am actually awake. I’ve called on Jesus and said scripture and tried to cast them out. But, they don’t respond to my commands. So now I just deal with it and thank God I don’t totally lose my mind. How can a Christian be tormented like this I have no idea. But, I will NOT stop believing!!

      2. I am fairly new to blogging again. I took a break for about 8 yrs. so I’m not very familiar with everything yet. Is there a way that we could private message each other on here?

      3. I don’t have FB right now. I decided to disable it once I started classes because I knew it would be a huge distraction for me. But email would work. I will try to send you an email this evening or tomorrow. Thank you so much!

      4. I’m sorry you are going through that. I think God has given you a gift which the enemy is trying to hijack. Please pray these prayers:
        Oh God show me the secret behind these attacks and show me the way out.
        Blood of Jesus Christ laminate my life.
        Lord Jesus Christ walk back into every second of my life and deliver me where I need deliverance, heal me where I need healing, transform me where I need transformation.
        Blood of Jesus Christ destroy every ladder the enemy is using to gain entrance into my life.
        Holy Spirit possess me, power of the Most High overshadow me, in the name of Jesus Christ.
        Please read and personalize Psalm 91/46/27, Jeremiah 50:34, 2Timothy 4:18.
        Please, please try these with faith in your heart. I wish I could say more but I’m not sure if that is allowed on this blog. Shalom.

    3. Neither of you are going to want to hear this, but you’re not being tormented by demons, you have the symptoms of a mental illness that can likely be treated with proper medical attention. Please, seek that help, your lives don’t have to be this way.

      1. I was reading this thread and I get what @humanprobably is saying. I wake up with night terrors and have horrible nightmares ever since having a major depressive episode early April after a traumatizing experience. Sometimes I shake and tremble when I’m between stage 1 and 2 sleep. I can link it back to my mental health because it started soon after. I felt like my life was over and that my whole world was falling apart. Now I’m tying to pick up the pieces but I’m still suffering from nightmares. If you can link your tormenting experiences/demons back to depression or anxiety, this might give you some piece of mind. Hope my input can help you in some way.

  2. I’m a bipolar Christian (yes the two can coexist!) and though I hate the fact that I have to live with this the rest of my life, I take comfort in knowing that God will never leave me. Because one day, this body of mine, with all it’s physical and mental ailments will be made new!

  3. Having a belief in a higher being should not mean giving up yourself. In fact it should be the opposite. Faith is something that accepts doubt. Doubt is not the opposite of faith but a part of it. Without doubt we would never grow. I am sorry your experience did not allow for a different viewpoint but pushed you away from a higher being. I am glad you have found some peace.

  4. Hello and thank you for the post. My experience is very different. I m a strong woman but I found what I was looking for in Jesus my Savior. Just sharing this little thought.

    1. Me too. Jesus saved my life numerous times and He continues to. l know I would not be alive today if it was not for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The beauty and joy in my life and everything and anything good comes from God. When my faith stumbles off my path even slightly it is then my life become more difficult. When I walk stronger in my faith again, the good in my life resurfaces. It is an amazingly beautiful thing and oh so very true. Much love and hugs, Sue

      1. I agree with you. There are times when is very hard to hang on Him but I found out that in those times I m not alone so I try to think about all I have to thank Him for. God is faithful.

  5. I am agnostic and was raised as a Christian. My mom took me to church every Sunday but none of my cousins and even my mom attend church anymore. I got married in a Catholic Church because my husband is catholic, and I even wear a cross necklace, which probably makes me a hypocrite but oh well. 🤷‍♀️

    That being said, I do not resonate with having a strong connection to God. I do not think of God as being an external Holy spirit to my being, and I believe that neither religion or atheism are correct or incorrect. Hence why, I choose the middle path (agnostic, which lies somewhere in between the two)

    A person can be spiritual without being religious and this is what I am. I am VERY spiritual and resonate with that. I realize that as I embark on this spiritual journey that I will probably find greater meaning in religion and better understand why people are so strongly connected to the external God. Until then, I will stick with being agnostic 🙏🏻

    1. We definitely have similar beliefs. I stopped feeling connected to God in 2012. I remember praying so hard but nothing changed no matter how hard I tried. So I no longer believe in prayer either.

      Live your agnostic life, Hilary! It is your journey so I hope that you get to grow in your spirituality. 🙂 Thank you for commenting!

      1. I wasn’t exactly dealt a great hand of cards growing up and still face many challenges to this day. Religion made me feel bad as if I was the one who deserved this and I know this isn’t true. Now I realize that WE have full control of our lives and that I cannot use religion to continue playing victim. I do however, believe in miracles and that there is good in the world but you won’t find me spreading the word of God and you won’t find me trying to convert you to believe in God.

        Thank you for your encouragement, Megan!!! I can relate to how you feel and understand how frustrating it can be to pray. I suggest meditating for a few minutes a day instead. 🌺

      2. That sucks religion made you feel bad about yourself and your situation! Yes we do have full control of our own lives which is amazing!! There is no puppet master controlling everything.
        I appreciate chatting with you, Hilary 🙂

      3. Even though many people feel very connected to God, I just don’t feel that way. No amount of converting me will make me change my mind (trust me, my husband has tried). I feel more at peace taking the middle road knowing I have control over my outcome rather than handing my life over to God to determine my future. My husband is very religious and even though we have different views, we respect each other’s beliefs and we have the same values and outlook on life. Thanks for reading my replies and chatting with me as well! 😇

      4. That’s good you two respect each other (so important in all relationships)!

      5. Playing devil’s advocate… do we really have much control over our lives? I don’t think so, but we like to think we do. What do you put your hope in? My hope is in nothing this world or man can take away from me.

  6. Thanks for sharing, great thought provoking post. Do you think blogging is a helpful for an outlet?

    1. I wish I had started blogging earlier in my mental health journey! I think if I would have found a positive community like this when I was younger I might have been able to get a better understanding of what was happening in my head. It makes me feel better knowing that others can relate to my experiences and I to theirs.

  7. Religion and the expectations it put on me are the cause of my depression and anxiety. I also believed I was supposed to sacrifice myself for others, and I did, and the last 16 years of my life have been hell because of it.

    I was always told that people that lost their faith would feel badly about it, but the first time I came anywhere close to finding the ‘peace that passes understanding’ was when I set my faith aside and said that if there really was a god of love out there, they’d understand why I made this choice.

    Ditching my religion was necessary in order to move forward, to aim for a life I wanted instead of the life other people wanted for me.

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience! I felt the same way about feeling like you’re supposed to sacrifice yourself for others even if it is detrimental to your wellbeing.
      I am glad that you have found peace in your post-religious life!

  8. I am a Christian and my faith has gotten me through the worst times in my life. I take meds and they help control the symptoms of my schizoaffective disorder to a degree but it is only in God that I find peace and joy. I was raised a Christian but fell away and did my own thing for many years but after it was all said and done I came back, stronger in my faith than ever. I understand having doubts and questioning the faith, and I have found many resources on apologetics that have given me answers to questions that I may have had. I guess all that boils down to this: my faith is the most important thing in my life. It’s not about religion and following rules, it’s about a relationship with the living Christ. That’s what I believe.

    1. I concur with you Kevin. God has saved my life numerous times. Faith is what keeps me going as well and it helps me stay positive and love. I always say to myself (pray) “Let God’s love shine through me,” many times throughout my day. That little prayer always brings me great comfort and lets me feel Jesus’ love inside me and with that I know I can do anything for Jesus is with me in all that I do. I miss reading blogs. I hope to find more time to write and read in this beautiful blogging community. Have a happy day and let Jesus’ love shine through you always. I think it all ready is Kevin. Much love and hugs, Sue

  9. Good post. I would love to know more about your experience in school, that class, and how you found yourself to be not religious. I’m always curious about other people’s experiences with religion and faith.

    I don’t see faith as being the same thing as religion. Protestant religion, to me, is like Walmart, Dollar General, and Dollar Tree. You’ve got your BIG religions in their BIG churches; then you have your medium sized religions in their neighborhood churches; finally, you have your Dollar Tree religions that someone started in any empty building they could afford. Their messages all toe the line of what’s trending in the religious world. Right now I see a lot of trends toward conservatism, anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric, and a throwback to “traditional family values” (whatever that means).

    Perhaps you can read into my skepticism. I used to go to church and attend youth group and hang out with the religious kids. As an adult I started running into a lot of things I hadn’t questioned before. I mean, who was I to question God? I mean, it’s God! But that’s where I was wrong. I was substituting people (mainly men) for God.

    I started questioning a couple of years after my initial diagnosis. I threw myself into church because I got a lot of peace through my panic attacks with prayer. I listened to a lot of Christian rock radio. The radio station would play clips from Focus on the Family or Billy Graham’s group. One night I’m driving home and I hear this talk about anxiety and depression. I think it was Focus on the Family. The person speaking said that anxiety and depression were just symptoms of not having enough faith in God.

    That was the beginning of the end of religion for me, and a test on my faith. I was furious. My anxiety and depression were about chemical imbalances and genetics and years of not having a handle on any of it. I felt betrayed!

    And the betrayal kept going the more I talked to other people of faith. People we’d now call Evangelicals were telling me that depression and anxiety were just signs of a poor relationship with God and if these “mentally ill” people would just pray more, go to churc more, serve God more, they would be fine.

    That opened my eyes to start questioning a lot more, to seeing a lot more. I saw a lot of the darker side of church folk in the years to come until I just stopped going to church altogether. What was the point? Church people are some of the nastiest people I have ever met.

    Now I am embracing my faith, faith in a God who is about love and compassion and forgiveness, who is nothing like this god who would make people sick because they don’t have enough faith. That’s just pitiful. I refuse to limit God. I refuse to put limits on anyone.

    But it’s taken me a really long time to get here. My heart breaks every time I hear some buttheaded hate preacher or even one of my former preachers (who I never considered hate preachers) talk anti-lgbtq+ or say women need to submit to the men in their lives. I feel better in my private relationship with God, how I see God, how I communicate with God. I don’t need those people. I feel free to question what I am seeing and reading and I feel better.

    Megan, however you choose to live your life is your business. Thank you for sharing it with us. I hope you’ve found peace and balance in the way that works for you. But more importantly, I hope you keep asking questions, keep talking, keep sharing. I would prefer your company to that of anyone who doesn’t question what they see and hear. Blind belief is not belief or faith. It’s ignorance. Good for you for being brave!

    1. Thank you for sharing your journey! That grinds my gears that anybody would say that somebody has a mental illness because they lack a relationship with God. That’s infuriating. A lot of the hate speech about women and LGBT+ individuals really gets me fired up.

      In my final attempt at finding answers, I was reading a book “The Reason for God” by Tim Keller. I had enjoyed it up until he wrote, “who ever said God was a loving God?” It went against everything I had ever been taught! I closed the book, returned it to the library and gave up on Christianity right then and there.

      I cried and prayed so hard for 2 years to try and find God. I felt no connection like I had in the past. So I came to the conclusion that if there is a higher power, they do not involve themselves with humans therefore prayer is pointless and makes no impact.

  10. I found it hard to speak my mind in a religious setting,within which,are people i love and care about. Mainly because i knew that if i did,and they did not agree to what i thought,i’d be so open to judgement and they would maybe not like me anymore after that. I avoided being among such gatherings,and before i could come to, i’d lost so much of myself in the trial to blend in. I couldn’t own up to my ideas,or preferences. I did research on this,and i got to understand that i shouldn’t let anyone make me not speak my mind,regardless of who they are. It was a process letting this sink in me.

    Simply,religion could cause so much despair,if it’s left to be as binding as it is.
    We ought to believe in us though;put us first,before others. Value ourselves first,then the rest follow.

  11. I wrote on something similar today, but I reject that demons personally besiege me. I find that it makes my illness worse to consider that, but everyone is different. I hope you find more peace 🙂

  12. 1great post, personally I am not a religious person, spiritual yes. I don’t however like religion forced on me. What you believe is fine, but don’t tell me what to believe

  13. I’ve never been religious myself – when I was younger, and therefore more uneducated than I am now, I was against religion. Now I let everyone follow in any religion they like as that’s their choice. Love this post x

    1. I don’t understand why people try to push others to be a part of the religion they believe in. Never made sense to me. Thank you for commenting, Sophie! x

  14. I am so grateful to have come across this post. I can sooo relate to the topic. Religion should can’t be forced on anyone. People have to make their own choices.

    1. that makes me happy to hear that you enjoyed it! It never should be pushed on to anybody. Thanks for commenting, Mumz!

  15. I liked your post and agree with most if not all of it. Religion seems to work for some people and I’ve found that it can help with those suffering from mental health issues. I spoke to someone once who had become disaffected with their religion and who then believed he could never get to heaven. That made him feel anxious. I don’t think, however, that the keys to the gates of heaven lie solely with those who follow a religion.

    1. That makes me sad about the person who spoke with who thought he would never make it to heaven. I remember a friend of mine in high school told me that people who die by suicide don’t make it to heaven either. That will never sit well with me.

      But I agree with you! Thanks for commenting, Brian!

  16. Religion has helped me in my mental illness by bringing people in my life who could help me. They helped and still are helping me with my mental state and to stay healthy, but also to grow closer to God, and always trust in him. Because of these people I look at things so differently, I know I can always talk to God when I feel like I have nobody else to talk to. Sometimes the ways the Lord helps, heals, and leads us is not the way we wanted, thought, or ever expected, but just because it’s not our way doesn’t mean it’s wrong or not healing or helpful.

  17. Thank you for the post, I know talking about a loss of faith can be difficult. I was brought up as Catholic but I could never truly believe after I became a teenager. I questioned everything and could not reconcile the answers I received with my beliefs. I don’t believe in an organized religion but I do believe that there is a higher power, however I don’t think any of us really have it right yet, lol. Through my journey of living with depression I became aware that I do think there is light whether it be nature a spiritual energy or what have you. It may have not gotten me out but it did give me a light to focus on.

    1. I’m glad that you can relate to it! It is so important when having depression that we have a light to focus on no matter how small it is. Thanks for commenting!

  18. Being able to rely on Jehovah God when things get tough or when things are great is everything that I pride myself in doing. Without thee creator I am nothing and have nothing. And as you said we all have different experiences and different battles that makes things better or worse. But for me my faith in the assure expectations (Heb 11:1) is ever reason I have to keep pushing foreword. But the most amazing thing is God doesn’t make us serve him. Like a best friend he wants us to love and serve him bc we want to not bc we are forced to. (James 4:8) He tells us to keep knocking seeking and finding (Matt 7:7) which denotes continuous action. I really appreciate your transparency and for sharing. These are my thoughts and ways that I get through this crazy thing called life 😁

  19. Great read! completely off topic, but religion was pushed on me quite heavily by my mother as I grew up and when I was in grade 12 I decided I didn’t believe. After my accident however, I do because there is absolutely no way I would still be here without prayers all around the world. Unexplained things happened that I can’t put down to anything else. I can’t work due to brachial plexus injury (right arm doesn’t work) & severe head injury in 2013, which leaves me going through a wave of emotions – One day I will be on top of the world… next I’m at rock bottom barely able to function. I suffer depression at times as well as severe anxiety. Since 2014, health & fitness has become a big part of my life, I had a baby in 2017, married 2018, another kid 2019. I would love to interact if you get a chance! aquoonline.com or https://www.facebook.com/aquoonline/ 🙂 have a lovely day! Xx

  20. This blog post was extremely refreshing to read for me. I once considered and proudly professed myself being a Catholic and now I do not associate myself with any particular faith anymore. If I am going to answer the question you asked, it would be that religion had both hindered and helped my mental health. I feel that throughout the years as a Catholic believing in a being who was all-powerful and so perfect that I could never reach him, made me feel horrible, but it also played with how I am as a person (always wanting to prove people wrong and reach as far as possible). So I ended up over the years making it a goal to reach this divine being I created in my mind. Over a period of 7 years I ended up “meeting” the God I created in my mind, in my physical mind, and I said to myself, if you are here and I can move beyond you, I will.
    God filled up everything that I needed as a person, but then I realized that God was me all along. When I made this realization, I no longer gave him credit for the good things that happened to me, but gave them towards myself, which is the same as God anyway.
    I did end up achieving my goal to reach him and in fact, I also went beyond him and that seemed impossible to most people I knew in the faith.
    With that in mind, I haven’t had a relapse of any mental breakdown in over two years, I have also been in an extremely stable and such a loving relationship with a beautiful woman (I know that my soul has always been searching for this one) and now I am the God that I once worshiped! Not in a sadistic or abusive way, neither in a cocky and egotistical way, but in a way that I am able to love and be the good person I always felt that God was!
    Thank you for sharing this post 🙂

  21. Hey I get it all, honestly I do. I struggled for 27 years on medications and it nearly killed. There is a way that we can be completely free and I can certainly testify to this. Now completely med free nearly 3 years and out of the mental health system Our God is alive and well and desire to set everyone free who so wishes to do so.

  22. Thanks so much for this post.I have written a post similar to this depicting my confused thoughts regarding this.If possible plz read it and give me your inputs.Nice to know m not alone having confused thoughts.
    Thanks for sharing.

  23. Hi! I cam across this post recently. At one point in my life, I lost faith and I can only imagine how tough it is to talk about religion. I totally agree that religion should never be forced on anyone. I am glad I read your piece. Thank you

  24. Thanks for your post. I think the confusion in all of this and why so many people have been hurt and fallen away from a relationship with God is because it’s been twisted into a whole bunch of rules by the church. The church is supposed to be focused on loving and building relationships first, like Jesus did. Jesus had the most heated debates with the so called righteous and religious people. God is the one who does a beautiful work in each of us if we let Him. It starts with relationship, not rules.

  25. Also, a book that has helped me better understand healthy boundaries is titled “Boundaries” by Drs. Townsend and Cloud. This book is terrific and I can’t recommend it enough! It has helped me properly set boundaries with engulfing and narcissistic people.

  26. Thank you for sharing your story, this takes a lot of courage and it can mean a lot to many who are going through a similar thing. Emma from ECBC x

  27. I always say I have had the best sleep in years since leaving Christianity. I no longer have to worry about hellfire or being punished for being human. I would love to read a study on how religion disturbs our mental health. I’m sure there will be evidence to prove that these type of beliefs cause all kinds of mental illnesses.

    1. That would be an interesting study to read! I wonder if there’s one out there. I’m glad you’re getting better sleep now!

  28. Wow this was a good post. I have similar beliefs. I believe that I hold the power in what happens to me and how I react. Before I was diagnosed bipolar I, too, was religious. After awhile I came to a realization that if I don’t take control instead of putting it “in a higher powers hands”, then I wont make it in this world.

    1. Thank you!! I completely agree with you. I had those similar thoughts the other day, that there is no being besides myself ruling my life.

  29. I grew up in a religious family, and we were all devoted christians. However in life we go through experiences that make us question our faith.. I’ve drifted from Christianity, I stopped going to mass, I stopped praying… and I went on a journey that I felt was right for me… in time though I want to go back to Christianity when I start a family and have kids

  30. It is so brave of you to share this post , i personally am of the opinion that it is ok for you to feel the way you do, religion saved a purpose for you at the time but does not do the same for you now. i suppose in a way it doesnt now, what are the positives you drew from it if any? i am a firm believer that in every cloud there is a silver lining.. however i also know it doesnt mean the same for everyone. i grew up a christian too but now am indifferent to religion, what it did for me is that it gave me a sense of hope and belief that things could be different , and when i feel low i still turn to prayer as it acts like a soother for me. The reason why am indifferent now is that i dont believe in religion .To me i find its different to believing in God. My understanding is that religion is a form of group conformity that requires you to put all ur beliefs, wants, needs aside in order to be accepted as part of a group, however the group is also made of non perfect human beings who struggle to manage their own anxieties and try to control others because of own fears

    1. Thank you for commenting! I felt the same as you about religion being a source of hope. During some challenging times I turned to God for strength and support especially in my first year of university.

  31. When I stopped using the word religious and fully understood the concept of relationship, my bipolar journey changed. What I always I thought I did on my own, was really Christ in me.

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