Belief in God Relieves Depression

I wanted you to read an excerpted from, “Belief in God Relieves Depression,” an interesting article in the The Washington Times by Jennifer Harper:

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.

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.”

“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. “It was tied specifically to the belief that a Supreme Being cared,” she said.

“We found that religious people or even people who simply believe in the existence of God show significantly less brain activity in relation to their own errors,” said Michael Inzlicht, assistant psychology professor at the University of Toronto, who led the research. “They’re much less anxious and feel less stressed when they have made an error,” he said.

A fellow member of the Christian Medical and Dental Associations with me, lawyer and psychiatrist Robert Rogan, DO, JD, wrote this in response:

Faith is “the substance of things hoped for.”

Many of us can still recall what living without Christ was like – everything was up to us. Striving and uncertainty were the norm for many of us. A serious disease was terrible and overwhelming with seemingly no chance of hope.

Realizing there is Someone infinitely greater who really cares about us, even loves us, brings great assurance and relief.

Today, unfortunately, we’re taught to be an “army of one.”

As per the article the belief that a Supreme being cared for the patient made the difference in healing and recovery. We can even believe that our mistakes and failures are for a good (perhaps divine) purpose.

Have we not as physicians noticed the trend that patients with faith recover sooner and may even have ‘thinner’ charts?

Of course the researchers did not cover the actual experience of salvation through Christ and the freedom associated therewith. Also the article did not specify the actual brain responses revealed in the study.

Nevertheless, for us as Christian physicians we need to stay alert to the patient’s faith and work with that faith to develop the best treatment plan for them.

Our faith is in that same Supreme being (in most cases). But, our current politically correct environment makes our work more challenging and that is where our faith comes into play.

Let us not forget that God designed our brain’s neurochemistry too.

All I can say, is, “Amen.”

1 thought on “Belief in God Relieves Depression

  1. Linda Twiggs

    Hi Walt Thanks for sharing this. Class tonight is on Chap Six Reducing SADness so the timing is perfect.

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