Spiritual belief can help stave off depression. Image Credit: sxc.hu Scientists have discovered that religion and spirituality can have a beneficial effect on the brain. Religious belief has long been thought to offer psychological benefits, but now researchers have discovered that spirituality can also offer protection for individuals with a tall risk of depression.The study involved comparing the brains of people for whom spirituality was important with those who did not withhold any spiritual beliefs. The results indicated that the brain’s outer layer, the cortex, was thicker in tall risk patients who subscribed to spiritual beliefs than it was in those who didn’t.”Our beliefs and our moods are reflected in our brain and with new imaging techniques we can begin to see this,” said psychiatry and epidemiology professor Myrna Weissman. “The brain is an fabulous organ. It not only controls, but is controlled by our moods.”While the research does not indicate that the thicker brain region produces a higher tendency to withhold religious beliefs, it does suggest that holding such beliefs can provide a physical, measurable resilience against depressive illness.