Working with patients who had depression, Scientists in Massachusetts measured the extent of their belief in God and have found that 80 percent of the patients reported some belief in God. Those with the strongest belief in God “appeared less depressed after treatment than those with little or no belief in God. They also appeared to be less likely to engage in self-harming behaviors.” The same was true for patients treated for anxiety, bipolar disorder and other problems.
David Rosmarin, the study’s author said, “Patients who had higher levels of belief in God demonstrated more effects of treatment.” “They seemed to get more bang for their buck, so to speak.”
While Rosmarin suggested that because of their faith in God, the patients may have also had more faith in the treatment, the “correlation between the strength of religious commitment or the strength of spiritual commitment and better outcomes,” is clear.
“Sometimes medications don’t work, and sometimes psychotherapy doesn’t work,” he continued. “But if someone believes in something that is metaphysical, if someone believes in something spiritual, which would ostensibly be eternal, permanent, unwavering, omnipotent, then that could be an important resource to them, particularly in times of emotional distress.”
Another study in Canada shows similar results. Other studies have shown that church attendance increased life expectancy and some studies show a reduced risk of depression. This study however, looked at belief in God rather than church attendance.
Other professors and researchers tried to minimize the impact of belief by suggesting that belief in treatment is the same pattern of cognitive behavior.
For instance, Torrey Creed, an assistant professor of psychology in psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania said, “I think… there’s a pattern of thinking that helps people get better in treatment. And two examples of this pattern of thinking are ‘I believe in treatment’ and ‘I believe in God.’”
Randi McCabe, director of the Anxiety Treatment and Research Center at St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Ontario, said, “People’s belief that something is going to work will make it work for a significant proportion of people,” similar to the placebo effect.
Ninety-two percent of Americans believe in God, but the percentage among mental health professionals appears to be considerably lower. Only 65 percent of psychiatrists believe in God compared with 77 percent of other physicians.
The “God factor” is beyond the understanding of most mind scientists. But they study it anyway because they want to find a physical or chemical mechanism that is related to strong religious belief. The fact is they recognize that there is a correlation between belief in God and better mental health.
“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippines 4:7