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God is Good: Belief in Higher Power Improves Mental Health

If you believe in God, it’s not only your spiritual wellbeing you’re looking after, but also your mental health. This is according to a new study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, which suggests that believing in God leads to better results after psychiatric treatment. The US researchers discovered that those whose wellbeing was affected with a mental illness, and also believed in a higher power, were more likely to see good results from being treated.

According to study researcher David H. Rosmarin, ‘Given the prevalence of religious belief in the United States – over 90% of the population – these findings are important in that they highlight the clinical implications of spiritual life. I hope that this work will lead to larger studies and increased funding in order to help as many people as possible.’ The study was based on 159 people, with an average age of 33, who were admitted to a day-treatment programme at McLean Hospital. 60% of the participants had been diagnosed with depression, 12% were diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and the rest were diagnosed with other disorders, such as anxiety.

The researchers asked the volunteers to describe their belief in God on a scale of not believing to having a high level of belief. The researchers then measured the participants’ levels of depression, wellbeing and self-harm at the end of treatment. The results of the study showed that those whose belief in God was between “moderate” and “high” had better chances of responding well to treatment, while the risk of not responding to treatment for those who said the do not believe in God or only believe in him slightly was doubled.

The researchers wrote, ‘As a whole, these findings suggest that belief in God is associated with improved treatment outcomes in psychiatric care. More centrally, our results suggest that belief in the credibility of psychiatric treatment and increased expectations to gain from treatment might be mechanisms by which belief in God can impact treatment outcomes.’ Last year, researchers from the University of Missouri found that spirituality correlates with better health, even when you do not adhere to a specific religion. According to researcher Dan Cohen, ‘With increased spirituality people reduce their sense of self and feel a greater sense of oneness and connectedness with the rest of the universe.’

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This entry was posted on July 4, 2013 by and tagged , , .
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