Belief in God Helps Depression

Moonbattery points to a story in the Washington Times about a reserach study that indicates that a belief in God can help alleviate depression.

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.”

The researchers compared the levels of melancholy or hopelessness in 136 adults diagnosed with major depression or bipolar depression with their sense of “religious well-being.” They found participants who scored in the top third of a scale charting a sense of religious well-being were 75 percent more likely to get better with medical treatment for clinical depression.

First off, I’d like to point out anecdotally that I know several severely depressed people who are deeply religious. I wonder how active that “caring” factor has to be? I’m also interested if particular religious affiliation affected the results any. Is this effect more prominent in Catholics than Protestants? In Muslims than Jews? Does this mean that atheists are more likely to get depressed, or just less likely to recover once they become depressed? And lastly, does this mean that polytheists should recover from depression more quickly than monotheists?

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