Objective: Religiousness has been found to protect against depression based on studies conducted in the United States, though there are limited data in the European population. We sought to evaluate the associations between religiousness and six depressive symptoms in Europeans aged 50+ years.
Study design: Longitudinal study.
Methods: Our sample consisted of participants (n = 23,864) in wave 1 (2004-05) of the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe who were followed up in waves 2-6 (2006-07 to 2015). Analyses were conducted using multivariable logistic regression.
Results: Higher frequency of prayer was associated with lower odds of having no hopes for the future (odds ratio [OR] = 0.89, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.81-0.99) and of suicidal thoughts (OR = 0.84, 95% CI: 0.72-0.97). Attending religious service was associated with lower odds of having no hopes for the future (OR = 0.74, 95% CI: 0.67-0.83), of suicidal thoughts (OR = 0.69, 95% CI: 0.59-0.81), difficulty in concentration (OR = 0.80, 95% CI: 0.72-0.88), irritability (OR = 0.77, 95% CI: 0.71-0.85), fatigue (OR = 0.84, 95% CI: 0.78-0.91), and having no enjoyable activity (OR = 0.84, 95% CI: 0.76-0.94). Religious education was associated with lower odds of not having engaged in any enjoyable activities lately (OR = 0.86, 95% CI: 0.78-0.95). Restful religiousness was associated with lower odds of experiencing suicidal thoughts, of having been irritable recently, and of having experienced fatigue in the last month, compared with crisis religiousness. Crisis religiousness was associated with higher odds of having been irritable recently and of having experienced fatigue in the last month compared with non-religiousness.
Conclusions: Our findings suggest that religiousness is associated with lower odds of depressive symptoms, particularly for those who attend religious service.