Can Believing God Cares Relieve Depression? Research Indicates There Is Cause-and-Effect Improvement

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), February 25, 2010 | Go to article overview

Can Believing God Cares Relieve Depression? Research Indicates There Is Cause-and-Effect Improvement


Byline: Jennifer Harper, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The Big Man Upstairs is getting accolades from mental health specialists who say they are finding that a belief in God plays a positive role in the treatment of anxiety and depression.

University of Toronto psychologists reported last year that believing in God can help block anxiety and minimize stress, their research showcasing distinct brain differences between believers and nonbelievers.

A new study released Wednesday by Rush University Medical Center in Chicago took the idea a step further.

In patients diagnosed with clinical depression, belief in a concerned God can improve response to medical treatment, said the new research, which has been published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology.

The operative term here is caring, the researchers said. The study found that those with strong beliefs in a personal and concerned God were more likely to experience an improvement.

The researchers compared the levels of melancholy or hopelessness in 136 adults diagnosed with major depression or bipolar depression with their sense of religious well-being. They found participants who scored in the top third of a scale charting a sense of religious well-being were 75 percent more likely to get better with medical treatment for clinical depression.

In our study, the positive response to medication had little to do with the feeling of hope that typically accompanies spiritual belief, said study director Patricia Murphy, a chaplain at Rush and an assistant professor of religion, health and human values.

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Can Believing God Cares Relieve Depression? Research Indicates There Is Cause-and-Effect Improvement
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