The Relationship Between Spirituality and Depressive Symptoms: Testing Psychosocial Mechanisms

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Although many studies suggest lower rates of depressive symptoms in those who report greater spirituality, few have investigated the mechanisms by which spirituality might relate to depressive symptoms. The current study aimed to elucidate potential psychosocial mechanisms that link these 2 variables. Data were drawn from a community-dwelling stratified sample of 630 racially diverse adults in rural North Carolina. Spirituality was assessed by 6 items of the Daily Spiritual Experiences Scale. Depressive symptoms were measured using 4 subscales from the Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression. Hypothesized mediators were optimism, volunteering, and perceived social support. Structural equation modeling was used to test whether proposed mediators explain a link between spirituality and depressive symptoms. The model demonstrated a satisfactory fit. Spirituality was indirectly related to depressive symptoms. More specifically, spirituality was significantly associated with optimism and volunteering but not with social support, and optimism, volunteering and perceived social support were significantly associated with depressive symptoms. The link between spirituality and depressive symptoms is indirect. The relationship is mediated by optimism, volunteering, and social support. Findings present research and practice implications.

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