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Can spirituality affect your mental health?

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A study by Professor Michael King from University College, London, found that people in the UK professing to be spiritual, but not conventionally religious, were more likely to suffer from a host of mental challenges.

Their demons included abnormal eating conditions, drug abuse, anxiety disorder, phobias and neurosis.

After conducting what he describes as "detailed psychiatric interviews", Professor King draws a distinction between those people who said they had a spiritual belief and those who said they were religious.

He said 20% of the people he surveyed, said they had a spiritual belief - unconnected to an organised religion - and he believes those people appeared to have more mental health problems.

"The people who are religious, seem to be pretty much like the secular people - in fact a little bit better," said Prof King. "They have less drug addiction, less alcohol problems, things like that."

Spiritualists on the other hand "are seeking something because they are feeling distressed in some way."

Professor King's research is published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.


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