Faith in God positively influences treatment for individuals with psychiatric illness

Belief in God may significantly improve the outcome of those receiving short-term treatment for psychiatric illness, according to a recent study conducted by McLean Hospital investigators.

In the study, published in the current issue of Journal of Affective Disorders, David H. Rosmarin, PhD, McLean Hospital clinician and instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, examined individuals at the Behavioral Health Partial Hospital program at McLean in an effort to investigate the relationship between patients' level of belief in God, expectations for treatment and actual treatment 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 . Belief was associated with not only improved psychological wellbeing, but decreases in depression and intention to self-harm," explained Rosmarin.

The study looked at 159 patients, recruited over a one-year period. Each participant was asked to gauge their belief in God as well as their expectations for and , each on a five-point scale. Levels of depression, wellbeing, and self-harm were assessed at the beginning and end of their treatment program.

Of the patients sampled, more than 30 percent claimed no specific religious affiliation yet still saw the same benefits in treatment if their belief in a higher power was rated as moderately or very high. 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.

The study concludes: "… belief in God is associated with improved treatment outcomes in psychiatric care. More centrally, our results suggest that belief in the credibility of and increased expectations to gain from treatment might be mechanisms by which can impact treatment outcomes."

Rosmarin commented, "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."

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Belief in a caring god improves response to medical treatment for depression

Journal information: Journal of Affective Disorders

Provided by McLean Hospital
Citation: Faith in God positively influences treatment for individuals with psychiatric illness (2013, April 25) retrieved 26 June 2019 from
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Apr 25, 2013
Thank you!

Apr 25, 2013
Also criminals and alcoholics have shown to benefit from spiritual awakening. As long as they don't get fed up with it after a few years.

Apr 25, 2013
Atheists less likely to cope with life, who would have thought it?

Atheists believe, if you wait a really long time, something can come from nothing, and if you wait a really long time, that something can become alive, and if you wait a really, really, really long time that something can become a person, but only if a different person who has power deems that person a person, then after a really SHORT time, that person ceases to exist.

Ya gotta love the faith and belief of atheists. It's very uplifting.

Apr 25, 2013
Ever think this might be because of a heavy bias towards the religious in treatment programs (12 step anyone) leaving nonreligious to feel they are an outgroup or somehow not considered worthy of accomodation or inclusion? An attitude rather prominent in other comments I might say.

Kind of how aptitude test used to be extremely slanted rich, white and male and somehow magically reaffirmed their superiority.

Apr 25, 2013
GMR, yea, I agree. I think we need to have an atheist bias towards treatment programs.

You come from nothing, but it took a really, really, really, really long time, and by the way, you are here just by chance a fluke. Your value is only in 1. what value you give yourself (which if you are depressed isn't very high), or 2. what value someone else assigns to you.
We acknowledge life if hard, then you die and to top it off in a few short years no one will even remember your name.

Kansas an old singing group had it right with their song dust in the wind:

Apr 25, 2013

Ever think you could have cognitive behavioral therapy, purely results based, without invoking or debunking a higher power at all?

Or you could continue divisive strawman false dichotomies.

Apr 25, 2013
Or if you are a Disciple of Jesus, you have hope. That there is meaning. That God Does care. That God does know your name. You acknowledge that even though there will be trials, pain, hardships and even if everyone in the world despises you, thinks your worthless, even if you think your worthless, God doesn't.

Christian hope:

If anyone is going through hard times, Michael Card has a great series about lamenting

Apr 25, 2013
So, division and false dichotomies. Got it.

Apr 25, 2013
If you are an atheist be truthful about your philosophy. You are born, your value is only determined by what you or others give you, if you are lucky you have very little suffering do a lot of what you consider good for people who will die, then you die, and people will forget you and everything you ever did. If you are unlucky, you have a lot of suffering, then you die, and people will forget you.

As an atheist you can give people hope in what? If there is no God, then everything anyone does, is dust in the wind.... a vapor in the mist...

Apr 25, 2013
Uh huh. You have no idea of what cognitive behavioral treatment entails.

Apr 25, 2013
gmr, I deal with depressed people and people in difficult situations a lot. Right now I'm dealing with an elderly lady who is a widow, who is in very ill health and will most likely die in the next few months, whose child is also about to die of cancer in the next few days, whose pet is on it's last legs, who has family issues. As an Atheist what hope do you want to give her. How will you make her feel better? How will you comfort her?

How about another person I'm dealing with. He is in hospice. A comment he recently said was (because he hasn't died yet) was "what does it take to die around here".

How about the chronically depressed person, who has no family support, thinks himself worthless, who has financial troubles, and his list goes on.

Apr 25, 2013
So GMR, how is the person dying going to solve their problems? How are they going to modify their belief that they are going to die? Especially if they have an atheists outlook that they are nothing but a chance speck in the universe?

Cognitive behavioral treatment does work, but only if there is hope. If you are truthful and logical, you'll acknowledge that in the end, there is ultimately no hope, ultimately no meaning for the atheist?

Apr 25, 2013
I am not quite certain where you retrieved this outlook, or what bearing it has on the above article.

I'm disinclined to indulge you, other than to say that we all project. If I am happy with myself and can take care of myself first, I presume the same motives in others. My focus is not on what I will not possibly know in this lifetime, but rather on what I can know and do.

Choosing to act is a powerful aid against depression, regardless of belief.

Apr 25, 2013
@freethinking your solution of giving false hope of a purely imaginary afterlife is unsatisfactory.

Problems here:
- Vague on details
- Small sample, both limited in geography and numerically
- Only comment is from study author, no neutral third parties
- A comparison with similar studies abroad would be interesting. If the US is so religious non-believers might be treated differently, or get less support from family and friends.
- Can't find any more details about the original study

Apr 25, 2013
tjaat, why do you think we have no proof about what we believe.

Who was Jesus and what happened to Jesus body after he was killed? Where is his body now? Why did over 500 people say they saw Jesus after he was killed? Are you saying Jesus wasn't killed? If Jesus body was in the tomb, the priests and Romans would have presented it stop people from saying Jesus was Alive. If it was stolen, why would 500 people say he was alive, that he ate with them, talked with them, not only that they were even willing and many were put to death for believing what they said was true?

Instead, atheists want me to believe, something can come from nothing, if we wait a very, very, very long time, and this something, if you wait a very, very, very long time lead to humans.

You say that my belief that God created everything is make believe and has no basis in fact, but your faith that nothing if given a long, long, long, long, time can create everything isn't?

Apr 26, 2013
I'm starting to think you might not be reading for comprehension.

His comments were about the study. How you construed that or redirected that into an attack on a particular religious sect currently escapes me.

Apr 28, 2013
He is on a soapbox Gmr. Would you attempt to debate the smelly guy shouting in the park about God? This is no different.

Apr 28, 2013
A religious belief could be part of their psychiatric disorder in the first place, hearing voices, believing strange beings with cosmic powers talk to you, etc. It may just mean the already gullible are easily persuaded.

Apr 29, 2013
Gmr - most likely sock puppet.
tjaart - most likely sock puppet.

If you two are not sock puppets, my apologies. However Radical Atheists and Progressives on this board are like Radical Atheists and Progressives everywhere. They vote early and they vote often. They lie and cheat, their ends justify their means.

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