Study: Faith In God Improves Mental Health

Belief & faith in God plays an important role in therapy and improves treatment for those suffering with depression, a new study confirms.

The research published in the Journal of Affective Disorders shows that people who believe in a higher power are more likely to fare better after being treated for a psychiatric disorder.

In the study, David H Rosmarin, McLean Hospital clinician and instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School in Boston, examined levels of belief in God of psychiatric patients in an effort to investigate the treatment outcomes.

The study included 159 people who were admitted to a day-treatment program at McLean Hospital. The average age was 33, and around 60 percent of them had been diagnosed with depression, while 12 percent were diagnosed with bipolar disorder. All others were diagnosed with other disorders, such as anxiety. Each participant was asked to gauge their belief in God on a five-point scale.

The study concluded that the patients with "no" or only "slight" belief in God were twice as likely not to respond to treatment than patients with higher levels of belief. Interestingly, those who believed in God but were not religiously affiliated and rated their belief as moderately or very high still had positive outcomes.

"Our work suggests that people with a moderate to high level of belief in a higher power do significantly better in short-term psychiatric treatment than those without, regardless of their religious affiliation. Belief was associated with not only improved psychological well-being, but decreases in depression and intention to self-harm." said Rosmarin.

Last year, another study by the University of Missouri showed that spirituality correlates with better health, even in those who do not adhere to a specific religion. When patients feel a sense of power outside their own lives through religious beliefs or through connections with friends, family or even nature, it can boost their treatment outcomes.