And Their Faith Shall Heal Them?
One study, by researchers at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago and Loyola College in Maryland , found religion had an even greater impact in lowering hopelessness--which typically accompanies and can cause depression--than on getting rid of depression itself.
Other recent studies have documented physical health benefits associated with spirituality, and a Duke University study found faith particularly beneficial for easing depression in older people.
These findings come at a time when many ThirdAgers are experiencing a spiritual awakening -- many have returned to religion as they confront the inevitable travails of middle age and seek greater meaning in this life -- and beyond.
Studies document that religious participation is rising with age. A recent Gallup Poll found that more than three-quarters of those 50 and older are members of a church or synagogue, and 70 percent of the age group calls religion "very important in their daily lives." Among those ages 30 to 49, two-thirds reported membership in a church or synagogue, and 55 percent said they considered religion very important in their lives.
For the millions of people suffering from the painful malaise author William Styron dubbed "Darkness Visible," these recent findings on the power of faith could be good news.