Are atheists more likely to be depressed?

Asked by: GOP
  • The science proves it

    Atheists love to argue how much they love science, but they don't seem to be big fans of it when it disagrees with them or their beliefs. A 10-year study by the Department of Psychiatry, College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University revealed that the offspring of Protestant and Catholic parents were 76% less likely to experience episodes of major depression than the offspring of non-religious parents. The survey notes that Individuals with no religious affiliation are at greater risk for depressive symptoms and disorder... People involved in their faith communities may be at reduced risk for depression, and private religious activities and beliefs are not strongly related to risk for depression".

    The science has spoken, atheists. Why would you want to deny what has been proven by science?

    Posted by: TN05
  • Come on now(:

    I totally agree atheist are more likely to be depressed. Feeling empty is the worse feeling ever and not having god definetely makes you feel empty. You need to feel loved and God definetely makes you feel loved.. Im a christian so i honestly dont actually know how people live without Jesus in there life... I find it absurd.. People think that God is all about feeling convicted and not being able to do things..But trust me Gods is all about love and its just crazy to me how some people could actually live with out him...Soo yes i do think atheist are more likely to become depressed.

    Posted by: evy
  • Yes, I know from experience

    For a period in my life, I came out as an "atheist", but I really just stopped all religious activity. Regardless, the time was really hard for me. I was constantly angry or depressed, I had a hard time maintaining relationships, and I performed poorly in my academics. This may not apply to all atheists, and I have only heard of a few studies, Columbia University for example, but after only two months I began to build my religiosity again. I frequently studied the Bible, I talked with my churchmembers, family, and pastor. For me, I had lost my Faith and core values, and I wanted them back. I felt lonely and empty without having a Lord to pray to, and without my personal relationship with Christ and his teachings. Today I compare turning to atheism to the devil reaching inside of you and corrupting your essence. Atheists may be good people, but straying from religion just was not for me.

  • Yes They Are

    I just want to start this off by saying that I am Atheist.

    Maybe not statistically, but it definitely makes sense that atheists would be more depressed. Atheists don't believe in life after death, therefore as they get older they must face the reality that there life incoming to an end, this could make them more depressed. Atheists also believe that you only live once, and when something goes wrong in their life they understand that they can't do it over. They are stuck with the bad choices that they make. This could make them more depressed. I am a pretty happy person in general but I think that yes, atheists could more likely be depressed.

  • People with High IQs are often depressed

    Atheists have higher IQs than religious people. You want some sources on that? Ok. I've included some below.

    People with higher IQs also are more likely to become depressed and conversevely, people with low IQs tend to be happy. You know the old saying, "Ignorance is bliss". So if you are atheist, you are probably smarter than the average bear and so you naturally have tendencies towards depression. If you are religious, you tend to have a more simplistic view on the world and don't think as deeply which also helps you avoid depression because you aren't over analyzing every little detail of life.

    Sounds pretty harsh...But it's true.



  • There does seem to be quite a bit of evidence, that the answer is yes.

    Here are links to some of the studies, polls, & articles, which suggest that people with higher levels of faith, seem to be better off:






    http://en.Wikipedia.Org/wiki/Religion_and_happiness ,







    As a bit of anecdotal evidence, I began to fall into depression, when I started losing faith.

  • More a question of existentialism and nihilism

    I'm speaking from personal and anecdotal experience with this answer. I've met a lot of atheists who feel very similar so I don't think it's too specific.

    Basically, my atheism means I tend toward nihilism and clinical depression. It's important to note that I'm not saying that atheism has a direct causal relationship with depression but that it is a necessary precursor to a chain of thinking that can easily lead one into depression.

    Most (all?) atheists believe that there is no objective meaning and purpose to our existence. In the minds of many (myself included), that belief can be derived directly from the belief that there is no godlike being running things on a cloud somewhere.

    Given that we don't (in the general case) believe in any objective meaning, the issue of whether or not subjectively defined notions of meaning and purpose carry any actual weight becomes centre stage (hence why I claimed that atheism was a pre-requisite to a common line of nihilistic thinking).

    To me, a subjective definition of meaning is ultimately meaningless (ironically enough). To me, we are like words: we cannot define ourselves, we only make sense when an entity outside the sphere of "people" (or "words") interferes. Self-assigned meanings are merely a cognitive trick to keep us marching to our inexorable doom with some semblance of sanity. But it works for many. There are plenty of atheists who are perfectly happy with their existential, relativist "purposes". I certainly wish I could be one of them.

    Really, the statistical significance is not to be found in comparisons between atheism and theism but in comparisons between existentialism and nihilism. Since theistic beliefs and religiosity effectively occlude nihilism, it becomes more or less necessary that a nihilist is also an atheist (perhaps one could claim a large intersection between existentialism and atheism as well). However, it is important not to conflate atheists with existentialists or nihilists which are (by and large) both subsets of the set of atheists. I don't want to propose any, possibly contentious, delineations of these groups but as I was reading through the other answers it seemed that a lot of people were making the logical error of assuming that "X is an atheist" naturally implies they fall into other philosophical/ideological groupings as well.

    I would say that existential atheism probably has little effect on the likelihood of depression; studies seem to reflect this, as does my anecdotal experience. I would also say that, given the (almost certainly staggering) correlation between nihilism and depression and the relative commodity of atheists with this mindset, nihilists contribute a lot of depression to the atheist side.

    The real answer to whether this contribution is statistically significant is likely to be a linear function of the number of nihilists in the population.

  • Atheists are more prone to depression.

    Atheists have a very negative view on life. They think that humans are just lowly apes, that life is meaningless and has no purpose, and that there is no God or afterlife. There are so many possible explanations for the universe but they pick the most depressing one. Sure they could be right but a lot of their arguments fail when closely analyzed. Most internet atheists spend most of their time belittling people who believe different than them. Is that the action of a happy person? I think not. Plus scientific studies say that we are hardwired for belief in a higher power. So wouldn't living without belief make an Atheist's life more depressing? I think it would. Bottom line is an Atheist is usually a "glass half empty" type of person which leads to a significant chance of getting depression down the line.

  • Its hard to find comfort.

    Morality and comfort is hard to find when you have no belief system. You are caught up in a cycle, that will get you no where. There is no where to turn to but a mental facility that you struggle with. Usually believers go to their church, mosque, temple, and find comfort in faith.

  • I am an atheist.

    Well for me personally I've been an atheist since I was 13 so for about 6 years now, prior to me being an atheist I would pray multiple times a day I felt I had a purpose in life an that God loved me. Really I look back on it now as an compare it to a little kid with his blanket the blanket has no real power but it still makes you feel safe, God makes you feel safe and loved when your safe and loved it's much easier to be happy an not depressed because when your upset you can just pray an you automatically feel better when your an atheist your just stuck being upset an feeling unloved, to wrap this up I've suffered pretty sever depression since I've became an atheist an without my security blanket "Religion" I just keep repeating the same depression cycle. I apologize for my improper punctuations.

  • Most Atheists are not depressed because they are not burdened with the nonsense about SIN.

    Religious believers and strong atheists may both be less depressed than existentially-uncertain people

    Anyway, there is no way to prove this, but most of the great atheists, e.G., Carl Sagan, Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkings, etc. Are/were very happy people.

    A Drunken Man Is Happier Than a Sober One

    by Jeff McInnis

    “The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.” - George Bernard Shaw

    So Mr. Shaw here says that happiness is not the goal. Interesting. Other atheist writings have said that atheism provides greater happiness than religion because the atheist is released from the obligation to their Creator and is free to live their life.

    It was Penn Jillette, an atheist, who said “Believing there is no God gives me more room for belief in family, people, love, truth, beauty, sex, Jell-o, and all the other things I can prove and that make this life the best life I will ever have.” So his belief in atheism gives him “the best life [he] will ever have”? He is obviously interested only in his own enjoyment. How better to increase your enjoyment than a constant state of drunkenness without consequence?

  • Erm... Does religion have anything to with depression?

    There's a guy over in the "yes" category saying that scientists have proven that atheists are more likely depressed. If what this guy is saying is true, does it really have anything to do with their religion?
    I think that's matter of opinion. You know what else is opinion? The fact that the same guy was saying how atheists love science unless it disagrees with us.

    Who said we all love science?
    Who said that we love science unless it disagrees with us?
    My mom disagrees with me and I still love her.

    -.- You guys need to think before you type.

  • No atheists are not more likely to be depressed

    I'm atheists and I'm not depressed. I live a happy fun filled life. Atheists are people who believe in different things, same as Mormon are different from christens and christens are from Muslims. People are people and whether or not they are depressed depends not on there religion but there life.

  • I highly doubt it.

    I think Christians (or other types of people who worship religions, such as Muslims) are equally at risk of becoming depressed as Atheists. It's nothing to do with faith or anything like that. At least I don't think so.

    Depression can hit anybody, regardless of race, gender, religion, age, etc, and that's why I don't think Atheists are more likely to end up depressed than anybody else. It's all a matter of the individual.

  • Why would they

    Why ? Why would they be depressed ? Is there something different about them that makes it where they are mentally ill and become depressed ? Just because they are absent of religion doesn't mean they develop some sort of mental disease over time or do you just think they are always depressed ?

  • Quite the opposite.

    Not at all. I'm an atheist and deal with depression for two reasons: 1. I have a health condition and the stress that comes with years of health issues. 2. I had a very difficult childhood due to overly religious parents who were also very abusive, causing me social issues that reached into adulthood.
    While I have done a lot of healing since leaving the church, it takes time to recover from such a toxic environment.
    I don't suffer from depression due to my atheism. Quite the opposite. Leaving the church lifted such a weight off my shoulders and I have never been motivated more to live life to the fullest and choose to be happy, instead of waiting for "god" to fulfill me. Also now if I have a problem, I fix it instead of thinking how "god" has a plan for my life. It's a much happier life. Not having so much guilt all the time is great too. :)

  • How about a NEWER study boys and girls…

    How about a NEWER study boys and girls…
    Yes, we atheist like our science, so let me science the $hit out of this one for you. A NEWER study by the CDC shows ALL other religions showed a higher percentage of depression than atheist. No we are not immune to depressions but we do not have the nonsense and guilt hanging over our head to pile on the depression.

  • It is impossible to prove that an atheist have higher possibility to become depressed. It's an illogical way of thinking.

    Being atheist and being depressed are conditions related to different areas of personal identity. There are depressed and happy atheists. An atheist with high level of personal and social satisfaction is hardly depressed. The connection between atheism and depression seems to be an apologetic issue and not rather then a logical statement.

  • Atheism forces you to face the truth,

    Believers have their beliefs because it makes them feel good, or feels right to them, something of the sort anyway. I've yet to see any believer come to believe in a certain religion based on some rigorous research. They cling to a view of nature that offers them a certain comfort, and I think it is obviously the same kind of approach they will take in their life in general.

    So the question is: Is lying to yourself or facing the truth more likely to make you happy/depressed? I believe the answer to that question isn't easy. Certainly lies can offer an immediate comfort to many difficulties, but in the long run, I believe part of you knows it is a lie and that cognitive dissonance leaves some venom. On the other hand, facing the hard truths can be tough, thus may be harsh at first, but I do think in the long run it enables you to find a better and more stable peace of heart.

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BrooklynHaze says2013-05-29T03:59:36.217
No. Personal happiness, is a personal choice. Just because someone chooses to practice mental gymnastics doesn't mean they'll be happier.
SweetTea says2014-01-16T15:08:09.367
Being an atheist doesn't equate to depression, but ... If any facet of your life creates anxiety and frustration, that makes you vulnerable to depression. Many atheists seem angry and frustrated. Perhaps, they feel insecure? Or maybe, they feel ridiculed and unaccepted? Or, possibly, they have doubts about their faith? Whatever the cause, it isn't healthy.