Okay, two points before we look at the recent study that says faith in God can relieve depression.
- Most of us who believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior would admit that having this as our foundation does bring us peace that the world cannot give us.
- That said, this study can easily be used as a way of saying, “See, even research has shown that Christians really shouldn’t get depressed! So, snap out of it!”
I’m both thrilled that science can somehow prove knowing God makes a difference, and a bit scared that studies like this give not only friends of those who suffer from mental health issues, but our pastors and counselors, more “proof” that depression isn’t real or that it is always a choice we make.
So here are the study results:psychologists reported that “believing in God can help block anxiety and minimize stress.” Their research showed “distinct brain differences” between believers and nonbelievers. Then last week, another study by Rush University Medical Center in Chicago went even further showing that “In patients diagnosed with clinical depression, belief in a concerned God can improve response to medical treatment.'” These results have been published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology.
Researchers said, “The operative term here is ‘caring.’ The study found that those with strong beliefs in a personal and concerned God were more likely to experience an improvement.”
How did they get these results? They compared levels of melancholy or hopelessness in 136 adults diagnosed with major depression or bipolar depression with their sense of “religious well-being.”
What they discovered is that people who scored in the top 1/3 of a scale charting a sense of “religious well-being” were 75% more likely to “get better” with medical treatment for clinical depression.
“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.
I know God makes a difference in my life and how I cope each day with a chronic illness. But there are both valleys and mountaintops in our walk with the Lord. We must always be cautious in how we use the research we discover. -Lisa