Mind and Body Connection
The evidence in the medical literature that suggests a strong relationship between spirituality and health has been growing significantly in the last few decades. As a reflection of this reality, over 50 medical schools in the US are now offering courses in spirituality and medicine. This page is an introduction in the topic of mind / spirit and body connection from a Christian perspective.
A Strong Mind - Body Connection
The Bible states very clearly that there is a connection between the mind, or spirit and the body - see the text box on the righ. Moreover, it not only indicates there is a relationship, but it boldly states what we think and the state of our mind have a profound impact on our physical health.
The Bible Says...
A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.
But it is not only the Bible that talks about this body - mind connection. Modern medical science provides strong evidence to it's importance, too.
A review of the medical literature on this topic published in 1998 in the Archives of Family Medicine concluded: "A large proportion of published empirical data suggest that religious commitment may play a beneficial role in preventing mental and physical illness, improving how people cope with mental and physical illness, and facilitating recovery from illness" - read the whole review entitled Religious Commitment and Health Status
To be more specific, religious commitment has been associated with a decreased prevalence of depression
. One of the studies that investigated the relationship between depression and spirituality was done on a group of 30 elderly women recovering from the surgical repair of broken hips. Those with a religious belief had less depressive symptoms and were able to recover their ability to walk better compared with those with no religious belief.
As far as various physical illnesses are concerned, there is a growing body of research indicating that a healthy spiritual life is directly linked to less physical disease. I highly recommend the Religious Commitment and Health Status
review article on this topic - it presents details of many studies showing that a religious commitment protects against substance abuse, depression, chronic diseases (such as coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, etc.), helps patients cope better with illness and speeds up their recovery.
Another great review of this topic, although more technical, can be found on the site of the American Academy of Fammily Physicians, under the title Spirituality and Medical Practice