According to a study conducted by Dutch and British researchers from Erasmus MC and the London School of Economics, attending a worship place may be a factor for “sustained happiness”.
Attending a worship place to fight against loneliness
Erasmus MC and the London School of Economics conducted a 4-year-long study on almost 9 000 Europeans aged above 50 years old: the study delt with social life of the elderly and depression. It concluded that the only activity linked to “sustained happiness” would be attending a worship place.
Dr. Mauricio Avendano, one of the researchers, explains that: “The church appears to play a very important social role in keeping depression at bay and also as a coping mechanism during periods of illness in later life. It is not clear to us how much this is about religion per se or whether it may be about the sense of belonging and not being socially isolated”.
Results also focused on the fact that belonging to a religious group has a very good influence on mental health; they sometimes have an even better influence than practicing some other sport activities, volunteering or even joining a political organisation.
There have been several studies that have shown the benefits of social activities on the mental health of the elderly. Instead, none of them precisely analysed which kind of activity would be better. Dr. Avendano explains that according to their research, some activities have better results than others. It is the case of attending a worship place. Going to church, to the mosque or to the synagogue have more sustainable effects than other type of social activities.
In Europe, there is no link between depression and weather
The study also reveals other data at the European level. European elderly people living in Southern European countries are more likely to fall into depression than those living in the Nordic countries, or even in Western ones. Researchers concluded that depression is not that influenced by the weather, but more by financial security and social relationships.