Anxiety and Religion

Hello everyone,

I think this is a very important topic to me. I really want to discuss this to see peoples opinion on this matter.

For years, I have struggled with the issue of religion and belief systems, because in the past I've been pushed to believe things because of fear of hell. I used to listen to a lot of Calvinistic/Baptist theological teaching that made me afraid and feel scared, I wanted hope and I did love God but I just didn't live well with the concept of hell. I obsessed really badly and I've had anxiety and depression three years ago. My depression was so deep that I couldn't eat well and I became really thin from losing weight and grief, but at the moment I am much better.

Do you think there is a link between extreme anxiety and belief systems?
  • 13 Commentsby Likes|Date
  • @Kyler good question. i'm sorry you have experienced anxiety on account of religion..i think some of us can relate. i spent a decade very involved in a church and really resonated with the "i'm a wretched sinner in need of grace....or i'm going to hell." so i would strive to be the best and do more and more and more...and it did cause anxiety! i felt like i was never good enough. no matter what.
    i stopped with "religion" about ten years ago. i still struggle with anxiety some. i still have feelings that i'm not good enough at times, even though i know it's not coming from a so-called god. it's coming from my childhood or ego....but the truth is that i am a beautiful soul....put on this earth or i chose to come to this earth on a journey to learn certain lessons...maybe one of mine is to learn that i'm inherently good. that in the grand scheme of things....most of what we think matters....doesn't. that we are all good souls at the core....

    i struggle with depression at times. i'm learning to be in it, but not let it control me. i'm asking it how i can serve, is my anxiety and depression trying to get my attention to deal with something at a deep level?

    i'm rambling...but many thoughts go through  me and it's good to discuss things like this. 

    extreme you think daily meditation/silence could help? have you tried?
  • @dominica That's really such a powerful thing you've shared there. I felt really emotional reading what you have posted. I am so thankful that you've responded to my post because I wanted to know that I am not the only one who struggled with this. I haven't tried daily meditation or silence, I really would love to but I try to always keep myself busy because I don't know, I don't like to sit and do nothing I'd feel like I'm going crazy. What do you think I should do?
  • I can see how it can contribute to your anxiety levels. My anxiety levels have increased when I do not have any faith. I am agnostic and I have been for many years, but I do notice that having some faith and belief has helped me feel like I have some support in life. 
  • You must be a believer, you must have faith on God. However, extreme thoughts and ideas such as heaven and hell, sinners being punished etc are detrimental on your mental health. I think extreme religious practice will increase your anxiety levels.
  • I want to encourage @Kyler that there is a difference between religion and belief in God. Once you know you are living right, not committing any crime and your thoughts are pure (though we are bound to sin every once in a while) then you are safe.

    Try meditating constantly to help you spiritually; where all things become clearer. Please remove 'hell' from your thoughts and focus on paradise where I pray we will all be after this life.
  • I agree with darkrebelchild. There's a difference in "religion" and in faith in God. Everyone has faults, no one is perfect. That's where grace comes in. :) We are all going to do things that are not perfect and it's okay. I do believe there is a difference in it and I have seen it cause anxiety in people before. I do believe there is a connection between what "religion" forces on people and anxiety levels. It can be a very scary place. I think focusing on the love and grace that is there instead of the negative can help tremendously. It does for me :)
  • This is a really interesting topic, I think that there's definitely a link between anxiety and religious beliefs, just an example, all the LGBT people around the world who are terrified to admit their truth because the bible says that they are going to hell, so they try to suppress that part of them, living unhappy lives with a sense of shame about themselves, and some others even recurr to extreme alternatives like suicide or drugs/alcohol abuse, and it's obvious that anxiety is always present.
  • There certainly could be a connection. My family wasn't very religious, so I can't really speak for myself on this issue, but I have had friends that grew up very religious and they talk about some of the fear and guilt they would get due to it. Comedian Ricky Gervais jokes about how God is like a free babysitter. Sometimes religious people won't do something out of fear that they will upset God. Having that "looking over you shoulder" view of the world can certainly cause anxiety in a person.
  • I think the fear of hell is eating into your anxiety. Maybe you should think about the good and positive side of religion as well. Think about heaven, angels and the like. Religion is supposed to make you feel good about your beliefs, remember that and take care my friend.
  • I think anxiety can be linked to alot of things. I myself have experienced this link with religion. My mom is a strict religious person. She has always forced God and religion down our throats, so to speak. I grew up going to church as a chore. We never ever skipped church. Later on, I was forced to go to a religious college, so I still HAD to go to church services 3 times a week.

    As you can imagine all this made me not religious, instead I went for the complete opposite. I turned to science and their beliefs in evolutionism. So yes... I do believe anxiety and beliefs are linked. That is the reason why I suffer from anxiety today and why I can never open up to my mother like other children can to theirs.
  • I honestly think  that you might suffer from OCD,  it does sounds like that to me.  OCD causes a lot anxiety and stress, because of the obsessive thoughts.  I know because i had a hard time because of my OCD.  Get professional help, it won't get better on its own. 
  • I think anxious people have just the right personality and mindset to get stuck in addictions and cults in general. What makes more sense to me, is that you have always had some kind of anxiety and the whole religion doctrine messed your head a little bit. Don't get me wrong, I have really strong beliefs, and I believe in God, but just like darkrebelchild said, there is a difference. I was a member of a different kind of church during my teen years and it really messed me up a little bit, it didn't affect my friends the same way, yet I have always been more of a socialy anxious person.
  • I grew up in a religious family and I do believe it did contribute a lot to my anxiety. Now that I have freed myself from its constraints I find myself looking back and seeing a lot of unnecessary rules and scare tactics. Nowadays I only follow rules that are based on objectivity and practicality and I've never felt calmer.
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