Religion, spirituality, and anxiety disorders


Book Section

© Cambridge University Press 2009. SUMMARY Anxiety disorders are widely prevalent in the United States and around the world. Religious beliefs and activities are likewise prevalent and are often inversely correlated with anxiety symptoms. Furthermore, clinical trials show that religious therapies from a variety of religious traditions appear to improve anxiety disorder symptoms to a degree that is equal to or greater than traditional secular therapies. Religious involvement may also exacerbate anxiety in certain individuals, and anxious individuals may sometimes distort or manipulate religion to serve neurotic ends. Anxiety can also be a powerful motivation for religious activity as persons turn to religion to cope with the distress that anxiety causes. In this chapter, I discuss whether religion is the cause or the consequence of anxiety disorder. examine research on the relationship between religion and anxiety in specific disorders (generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessivecompulsive disorder, and phobia). illustrate how religion may improve or exacerbate anxiety with specific case examples. examine implications for clinicians in the assessment and treatment of anxiety disorders (including specific ways that religion can be used in the management of anxiety disorder). discuss how to untangle the complex interaction between religion and anxiety by consultation, referral, or co-therapy with pastoral counselors. Anxiety, worry, and nervousness are common in today's society where the average person has numerous roles to play and must encounter stressors from many different sources as part of normal daily life.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Koenig, HG

Published Date

  • January 1, 2009

Book Title

  • Religion and Spirituality in Psychiatry

Start / End Page

  • 128 - 144

International Standard Book Number 13 (ISBN-13)

  • 9780521889520

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1017/CBO9780511576843.010

Citation Source

  • Scopus