TheImpact of Spirituality on Prevention and Management of Post-traumaticStress Disorder
TheImpact of Spirituality on Prevention and Management of Post-traumaticStress Disorder
Post-traumaticstress disorder (PTSD) is one of the health challenges that thecontemporary society is grappling to address. PTSD can be defined asa psychiatric complication that one develops upon experiencing orwitnessing traumatic events such the natural disasters, accidents,sexual assault, military combat or terrorist attacks (Appleyard& Osofsky, 2013).Many survivors of the trauma often return to normal living after ashort time, but some continue suffering from stress that mighttypically worsen with time. The signs of symptoms exhibited by peoplesuffering from PTSD include experiences of nightmares, lack of sleep,and other general indicators typical to any depression. Thestatistics of people suffering from the condition are documented asthey reveal how rampant it is. For instance, according to Walker(2014),as significant as 70 percent of the adult population in the UnitedStates faces adverse traumatic events at least one time in theirlifetime, and 20 percent of this population develops PTSD. In lightof this problem, different researches are being conducted to helppeople with PTSD. The role of religion and spirituality has beenfeatured as one of the notable areas of focus (Kanitaet al. 2014).Therefore, the question of intrigue is the role of spirituality inthe management and prevention of PSTD. This paper explores thediscussions on the significance of religion in PSTD management.
Thereare different ways in which religion could help prevent and managepost-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The importance of religion isnot only informed by underpinning theory, but also the researchfindings.
Theview that religion affects the psychological functioning of anindividual susceptible or already suffering from PTSD in three mainways is perhaps the most outstanding theoretical assertion. Asdocumented by Stein,G. & Wilkinson, G. (2012).In one way, religion provides a framework for living a happy andfulfilling life. Ideally, different religions, such as Buddhism,Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam provide teaching on ways of living,which can then serve as the ways of perceiving and responding todistressing experiences. For instance, many of these teachingsconsider life as sacred and forbid different acts such as suicidethat might inherently result from PTSD.
Secondly,religious teachings serve as a source of comfort to help vulnerableand affected persons to live a positive life, despite their troublingexperiences and challenges. The plausibility of this point hinges onthe tendency of many of the religious teachings to assert the needfor followers to turn to God and ask for assistance whenever they aretroubled. The deities are presented as supernatural beings that arecapable of liberating any individual from the faced problems,regardless of how serious they are (Adsit,2008).
Lastly,religion functions as the source of inspiration. Typically, religiousteachings contain text and verses that encourage people to be hopefulabout the future, despite the challenges they could be facing. Thebible, for instance, does not only teach its followers about the timeof the end of tribulations, but also goes further to presentdifferent stories of people who faced trials, but were liberated inthe end. The teaching calls upon the followers to be only faithful sothat they can be liberated (Schiraldi,2016).
Differentstudies have investigated the role of religion in the prevention,management or even healing of the post-traumatic stress disorder. Forinstance, the study by Rushinget al. (2014)sought to investigate the relationship between spirituality and thenegative effects of PTSD such as suicide ideation, attempted suicide,and mania. The study investigated the issue by comparing thebehaviors of a sample of PTSD individuals with strong religiousassociations against those with weak affiliations (including theatheists). The authors established that the people with PTSD wholacked the strong religious stand showed high levels of antisocialbehaviors, manifested by high suicide ideation levels and high ratesof attempted suicide, compared to those with strong religiousaffiliations. Interestingly, this study also revealed that peoplewith weak religious affiliations reported a higher number of cases ofrelatives who had successfully committed suicide because of theinability to cope troubling experiences. The findings also notedseveral differences in terms of clinical characteristics between thetwo groups. The most outstanding feature of people with weakreligious affiliation includes drug abuse, hopelessness, andaggression, high levels of stress, adverse substance abusetendencies, and pronounced depression. The authors conclude thatreligious affiliation, also known as spirituality, essentially servesas a moral framework that restrains and protects followers fromadverse PTSD effects. Religion cultivates moral objectivity andreduces the levels of aggression, translating to the wellbeing ofindividuals with PTSD conditions.
Anotherstudy by Caribe,et al. (2012),in hypothesizing the potential role of religion in promoting thewellness of persons in distress, conducts a study on seniors onend-of-life care. In particular, this study investigated thesignificance of religion in enhancing the general wellbeing of thesubjects, including the physical and mental welfare. The studyreported various ways that religion enhances the health of thesubjects. First is that attendance to church and engaging inreligious activities, such as praying, do not only play a criticalrole in protecting people against PTSD, but also managing it. Thestudy reports that attending to church functions had the mostsignificant impact in preventing and managing PTSD. Such anobservation that could be inferred as implying that individualstypically take in a lot from the religious teachings that help themrenew hope about life and enhances their moral objectivity to shunfrom antisocial behaviors.
Inaddition, Ryanet al. (2015)examined the place of religion in the management and prevention ofdepression focusing the victims with bipolar disorder. The studyinvolved 149 subjects diagnosed to be suffering from bipolar disorderusing the DSM-III-R criteria. The participants were categorized intotwo groups: those with strong religious affiliations, and thosewithout, or with weak associations. The study’s findings revealedthat the people with high levels of spirituality reported desirablebehavioral management outcomes — they were less likely to engage inantisocial behaviors and had significantly low suicide attempts intheir history, compared to their counterparts.
Despitethe findings and theories on the positive role of religion inpreventing and supporting the management of PTSD, severalcontradictory views have emerged. Gururaj,et al. (2012) offersperhaps one of the convincing theories on how religion might escalatepost-traumatic stress disorders among the victims. The authortheorizes that religious teachings typically present many promisesthat could worsen PTSD conditions when they are not fulfilled. Themain drivers of choice for people to nurture spiritualism are thegains that come with — the liberations from problems and hope forthe bests. In this regard, when the challenges become overwhelming,the affected followers start asking why all this had to happendespite their dedication and faithfulness to the teachings. They maythen become frustrated. However, it is worth noting that few studieshave succeeded in ruling out the positive link between religionsinvolvement and prevention and management of post-traumatic disorder.
Inconclusion, the aim of this paper has been to explore the discussionson the significance of religion in PSTD management. It has beenestablished that thereare different ways in which religion could help prevent and managepost-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The importance of religion isnot only informed by underpinning theory, but also the researchfindings. Theoryavows three ways in which religion supports the PTSD management. Inone way, religion provides a framework for living a happy andfulfilling life because it provides teachings on ways of living,which can then serve as the ways of perceiving and responding todistressing experiences. Secondly, religious teachings serve as asource of comfort to help vulnerable and affected persons to live apositive life, despite their troubling experiences and challenges.Thirdly, religious teachings contain text and verses that encouragepeople to be hopeful about the future, despite the challenges theycould be facing. Several studies have further presented evidence ofthe role of religion. However,it is still arguable that religion could also worsen thepost-traumatic stress disorders among the victims because it presentsmany promises that could worsen PTSD conditions when they are notfulfilled. However, the fact that they are a few studies to back upthis opposing theory implies that religion could be applied inhelping victims manage and cope with PTSD.
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