Unlike many other religions, Judaism is a life-centered belief. It is the knowledge that, while belief in God is important, being happy during your life is equally so. That is one of the reasons that so many Jewish scholars have gone into research and clinical practice of mental health services – because as a religion, it is understood that your current wellbeing is important, and your happiness and quality of life are valued.
Yet very little research has been conducted on how Judaism itself may affect anxiety – specifically, whether the belief in Judaism has an effect on your ability to cope with stress and pressure, and whether there are specific styles of practice or behaviors that can contribute to an overall happy life.
Current Research in Anxiety
JPsych, a company dedicated to research in Judaism and mental health, has decided to take on some of these issues. They have found that Judaism itself does have an effect on your ability to handle and cope with anxiety, and how that anxiety affects your long term health. Some of their findings include:
• Strong belief in Judaism can have a coping effect on anxiety, such that those that experience a strong belief in God are able to more easily cope with the pressures of the day. Interestingly, however, the sect of Judaism (Orthodox, Conservative, Reform or Reconstructionist) is not as important. What is important is that there is a real belief in Judaism.
• How you show your belief in God is also not important. What is important is that you have the personal belief, and that you practice in such a way that it makes you happy, and keeps the belief strong inside of you.
• Religious study and remaining a voice inside of the Jewish community does appear to allow for a small decrease in stress and an increase in happiness.
Clearly there is evidence that those that have a strong belief are able to reduce their overall stress and anxiety. But what about those that are still experiencing anxiety and stress?
From there, research has found that the Torah itself specifically discusses the importance of human behavior and moral responsibility in a way not found in other religions. From Adam and Eve to Moses, there are ample examples of the idea that, while a belief in God is important, so is the need for the Jewish people to take responsibility for themselves. It is widely believed by historians and anthropologists that the idea of personal responsibility is one of the reasons that Judaism is such a supporter in the mental health system – God has allowed the Jewish people (and all people) to make their own choices and live a good life, and if that involves treatment for anxiety, then seeking help must be the right solution.
While more research is needed to show exactly how and why Judaism is able to have such an effect on both anxiety and the willingness to seek help (a behavior that is not often seen in other religions), two things are clear: belief in Judaism can have a powerful effect on your stress and anxiety, but those that need extra help are encouraged to use it.

Author's Bio: 

Ryan Rivera experienced profound anxiety, but learned coping skills and other strategies to manage it which he describes at www.calmclinic.com.