Researchers: Fight Depression With Faith


Spirituality and science have had a strained relationship in recent years as heated emotions continue to surround debates over creationism versus evolution and other subjects that pit faith against observation. A recent study, however, points out that there are things about which the scientific and spiritually minded can agree, among them: Faith can have the power to heal.

A study published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry showed that belief in God can offer people “significant protection” against depression, which is slated to become the world’s most prevalent disease by 2030.

For the study, Harvard University researchers observed 159 mental-health patients at Massachusetts’s McLean Hospital for a year to investigate the relationship between religious belief, the patients’ expected health outcome and the actual outcome. The researchers asked each patient to rank belief in God on a scale of 1 to 5 and questioned about how positive they felt that medical treatment would help their depression symptoms. Seventy-one percent of the individuals registered at least slight belief in a higher being.

According to the researchers, the individuals who said they had “no” or only “slight” belief in God were twice as likely not to benefit from clinical treatment for depression symptoms.

Regardless of religious affiliation, however, a majority of patients with a “high” level of faith in God reported better treatment outcomes.

The researchers concluded: “Belief in God, but not religious affiliation, was associated with better treatment outcomes. With respect to depression, this relationship was mediated by belief in the credibility of treatment and expectations for treatment gains.”

Personal Liberty

Sam Rolley

Sam Rolley began a career in journalism working for a small town newspaper while seeking a B.A. in English. After covering community news and politics, Rolley took a position at Personal Liberty Media Group where could better hone his focus on his true passions: national politics and liberty issues. In his daily columns and reports, Rolley works to help readers understand which lies are perpetuated by the mainstream media and to stay on top of issues ignored by more conventional media outlets.

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  • Right Brain Thinker

    Slow day on the news front, Sam? Ignoring the fact that a study involving 159 subjects is a bit small, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that religious belief can help counter depression.

    I am more interested in your assertion that “depression is slated to become the WORLD’S most prevalent disease by 2030”. Can you tell us where that tidbit came from?—–perhaps the manufacturers of antidepressant drugs? I wonder if those billions of people who are busy surviving around the world have much time for “depression”?

    • rendarsmith

      Wow, I actually agree with you on this one. As a man who has travelled to other parts of the world, I have seen villages with far less than we have and I see more depression here in the developed world.

      “perhaps the manufacturers of antidepressant drugs?”
      I am willing to bet yes, as that industry is SOARING. I also noticed stronger family values in other parts of the world, whereas in our society family values have been nearly destroyed and replaced with materialism. Coincidence?

      • WTS/JAY

        I tend to agree with you, rendarsmith!

        • Right Brain Thinker

          WOW, I agree with rendarsmith and WTS/JAY both!

          (Did the earth just shake?)

          Vicki—where are you? Come tell us that ~315 million Americans weren’t depressed today.