I was institutionalized in a psychiatric hospital twice at age fourteen for what was diagnosed as a Major Depression. The psychologist told my parents it was unusual for a child of my age to be so severely affected. The staff was very aware that I was an extremely religious christian. I was never asked one question about my religion. They were very concerned that about sexual or physical abuse. Both of which were indeed the case. The odd thing was that though those things had happened I was no longer in that environment and knew I would not be in those environments. The fact that they had happened did not bother me at all. The abuse is all they wanted to talk about and convinced me that that was the problem.
They completely ignored the fact that I was indeed Hyper Religious. Hyper Religiosity now is associated with mania and delusions. The only delusion I had at the time was that god existed. I was he kid that always had my bible with me only for the purpose of reading it. I did not care about making a show or what people thought about it. GOD WAS REAL. I was hyper Religious in the fact that I was extremely religious.
This is what I find of interest. I can absolutely rationally justify my hyper religiosity today. I had a somewhat nihilist philosophy, GOD WAS REAL we only had a little time on the earth and an eternity to live in heaven or suffer in hell, therefore, the only thing that mattered in life was GOD.
This is where the problems began. I would go to church sometimes four or five times a week. The good people of the church would always tell me about how God was working in their lives and how he was "speaking to them"... for me silence...
It must be understood I was a 14 year old. I believed them. Why didn't god actually do anything or speak to me! What was so wrong with me that an all loving and forgiving god would not bother to "bless my life" my father was dying of heart disease for example.
What the "mental health experts" missed and completely over looked was the actual source of my depression. I literally believed in a real god and expected God to do the things he was claimed to do by my religion. When God failed to live up to my indoctrinated expectations (reinforced by adult lies about what wonderful things he was doing) I blamed myself and hence had a Major Depression.
I am now 47 years old and have finally come to realize what actually happened.
Before I wrote this I googled things related to Religion and Psychology(though I have studied his extensively). Everything was about delusions or psychosis. I never had visions, or heard spirits speaking to me (actually to a great extent that was the actual problem). So in the classical sense I was not delusional, having psychosis, or mania. I was so brainwashed I actually believed that if I prayed that the prayers would be answered. That is what all the adults said was true.
Psychiatry needs to realize that mainstream Christian indoctrination of children can have devastating mental health effects on what would be normally mentally healthy children... Adults for that matter.
In psychology a delusion is roughly defined as a mistaken belief that is held with strong conviction even when presented with evidence to he contrary. There is a disclaimer, if it involves religion the definition is null and void. People whom are delusional due to religion are not "delusional".
In Israel there is a special mental hospital for visitors to the holy land to treat "Jerusalem Syndrome". This is a condition that is caused by religious zealots whom come to the holy land expecting some sort of "supreme religious experience". When they do arrive it does not happen and they realize it is simply a very old city, and go into Major Depressions or tend to think they are Jesus.
After I finally realized I did not believe in god and accepted that I was an atheist, the guilt and anxiety disappeared. Yes I deal with normal ups and downs but I no longer suffer from depression.
I believe it is time for the Mental Health Profession to come to terms with how devastating religion can be to people that otherwise would be considered mentally "fit". First they must accept that a delusion is in fact a delusion even if it is "group think". If they cannot come to terms with this they can not treat people whom suffer from delusions, if by their definition they are not having a delusion at all. They must also be aware that Hyper Religiosity my not manifest its self as Delusions, visions, hearing voices, or visions of grandeur. It will most commonly manifest itself as depression and be attributed to anything other than religion as It is a profession taboo to attribute any mental illness to religion.
I aso found it quite shocking that my parents' god didn't live up to the expectations and promises - I was about 12 years old at the time. It took me some years, but I put the gods where they belong, out with the garbage. Why didn't you, instead of putting the blame upon yourself?
I was naive and brainwashed by a very religious upbringing. It honestly would have never occurred to me that God may not exist. When I was seventeen I went into the military. I was still wacko religious, but it exposed me to the fact there were some HORRIBLE, EVIL, God HATERS out there. It took many years but this exposure helped me to question my beliefs. It never would have happened if I did not leave my microculture.
I can identify with this and also agree with you on group think. Mental health specialists should recognize the role of religion in every way including depression. In my opinion if you need mental healthcare be sure the therapist is NOT a believer. If they are you will be messed up a lot more before you start making progress.
This is a great program that is growing for those whom may be interested.The Secular Therapy Project