Spiritual People Are More Likely To Face Mental Disorder

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Jan. 9 2013 2:43 PM

Spiritual People Are More Likely To Face Mental Health Issues, Use Drugs

158275104
People participate in a sacred 12.12.12 ceremony with ancient crystal skulls at Miami Circle, a Tequesta indian site used centuries ago

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Consider yourself spiritual but not religious? Well, you’re more likely to develop a mental disorder, become dependent on drugs, and have eating disorders, according to a study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry. It seems like common sense that those who’d describe themselves as spiritual would be more likely to use drugs. But the difference is quite high. Thirty percent of those who identified as spiritual said they had used drugs, almost double the 16 percent of religious people who reported drug use. Spiritual people are also 24 percent more likely to have generalized anxiety disorder, according to the lead author of the study, reports CNN.

The overarching conclusion of the study that analyzed data collected by the British government is that “people who have a spiritual understanding of life in the absence of a religious framework are vulnerable to mental disorder.” CNN talks to an expert who says past studies carried out in the United States, where a greater proportion of the population identifies as spiritual but not religious, have shown very similar conclusions.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.