According to a new study by McLean Hospital in Massachusetts, U.S., people who believe in God are twice as likely to respond to depression treatment than those with little or no belief.
Over the course of one year 159 patients were asked to fill out a questionnaire which gauged their level of well-being as well as their level of religious faith (on a scale of 1-5).
In the Journal of Affective Disorders, researchers concluded that belief in any kind of God not only improved the psychological well-being of patients, but also decreased their risk of suffering depression or inflicting self-harm.
David Rosmarin, clinician and instructor at the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, said: “I hope that this work will lead to larger studies and increased funding in order to help as many people as possible.”
Previous studies have explored the power of prayer in relation to recovery. One study by San Francisco General Hospital monitored the effects of prayer on 393 heart patients. One half were prayed for by a group of strangers who only knew the names of the patients, while the other half weren’t prayed for at all. None of the patients knew which group they were in but researchers found that those who were prayed for had fewer complications, fewer pneumonia cases and less need for drug treatment. This group also recovered more quickly and left hospital earlier than the group who were not prayed for.
While the reasons for these results have yet to be explored, the implication is that we have a lot more to learn about the human brain and the role of belief in health care and recovery.
To find out more about depression and how counselling may be able to help, please visit our Depression page.
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