Studies: Belief in God relieves depression?

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Ivan Seeking
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
8,013
1,176
Moved from S&D.

From the link
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.
 
  • #3
arildno
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
Gold Member
Dearly Missed
10,089
135
Ill give you another shocker:

Getting comfort from Mom&Dad relieves depression!
 
  • #4
madah12
326
1
So would it be harmful for someone to try to tell "patients diagnosed with clinical depression",who are strong believers, that prayers are useless for there is no caring god ,and would convincing them that there is a caring god ,regardless if it is true or not, be useful?
 
  • #5
DanP
114
1
So would it be harmful for someone to try to tell "patients diagnosed with clinical depression",who are strong believers, that prayers are useless for there is no caring god ,and would convincing them that there is a caring god ,regardless if it is true or not, be useful?

Neither would be useful.
 
  • #6
ZapperZ
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
Insights Author
35,994
4,715
Why is this not any different than the placebo effect?

Zz.
 
  • #7
brainstorm
564
0
So would it be harmful for someone to try to tell "patients diagnosed with clinical depression",who are strong believers, that prayers are useless for there is no caring god ,and would convincing them that there is a caring god ,regardless if it is true or not, be useful?
It has to do with the cognitive-emotional effects of the spiritual language and concepts. There are a lot of metaphors the make reference to ascent in one form or another (e.g. rising up, lifting spirits, higher love, higher power) as well as light, abundance, peace, joy, benevolence, comfort, etc. In other words, people saturate themselves with positive words, concepts, music, and other expressions AND they don't cynically or sarcastically overpower them with doubt; i.e. they use their faith to truly believe in the hope, etc. This can be difficult if they have to overcome a lot of cognitive realism or pessimism that convinces them that it's all nonsense.

Why is this not any different than the placebo effect?
It is the same as a placebo effect, but you have to recognize that people have to truly believe in the placebo for it to have that effect. If you just think of it as a sugar pill, it won't work.


how accurate is this? is it biased? if it is true then how strongly do you need to believe in god for this to apply?
You might not need to believe in God but once you try it and experience the results, there's a chance you'll get addicted as many people do and want to add God to your list of placebos that you truly believe in just for the (spiritual) effect. You may even start trying to go around spreading the word of hope, joy, and spiritual ascent and begin to see skeptics as people bent on imprisoning themselves and others in depression. It can be a very powerful placebo, if you let it, imo.
 
  • #9
ZapperZ
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
Insights Author
35,994
4,715
It is the same as a placebo effect, but you have to recognize that people have to truly believe in the placebo for it to have that effect. If you just think of it as a sugar pill, it won't work.

If people know it is a sugar pill, it is no longer a placebo.

Zz.
 
  • #10
lisab
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
2,035
623
If people know it is a sugar pill, it is no longer a placebo.

Zz.

Actually, http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0015591" [Broken], even if they know it's a sugar pill.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #11
WhoWee
210
0
If people know it is a sugar pill, it is no longer a placebo.

Zz.

I know a diabetic that would challenge you on this point.:smile: (sorry)
 
  • #12
brainstorm
564
0
Actually, http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0015591" [Broken], even if they know it's a sugar pill.

Good point. And it's an important point because too many people are stuck in willful ignorance because they're afraid that they wouldn't be able to keep believing once they know the true reality behind the fantasy. Someone should rewrite the Wizard of Oz so they all go on believing after they discover the little man behind the curtain. In the case of religion, it would be discovering that human faith is the essence of God and not losing faith as a result. That would be true humanist religion, wouldn't it?
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #13
intelfam
2
0
This article seems to repeat a finding of a few investigations. The issue of course, is not whether there really is a caring God, just that someone has a belief in such a deity. In depression, hope is a significant factor in getting well anyway. If one has a belief that someone cares this may also influence the course of an illness that has significant cognitive factors such as negative thinking habits. One could, of course, hypothesize further: that, for a believer, a caring God may well have led one to that doctor and guided the discussion as to choice of treatment. Confidence in medication has been shown to influence effectiveness of opiates in a recent paper and depression is certainly painful!
As to bias, I am unsure what you are getting at. Unless you are suggesting that the researchers' personal beliefs influenced the subjects or that the tests used are culturally biased towards a belief in a concerned deity?
FWIW
 
  • #14
jduster
1
0
Believing in God may help relieving depression, but that is not evidence that God exists.

Believing that your pets have psychic powers can relieve depression too.
 
  • #15
33,662
11,234
Believing that your pets have psychic powers can relieve depression too.
Really? Do you have a reference for that? That would be an interesting study.
 
  • #16
EntropicLove
45
1
It's also shown that compassion meditation negates brain activity patterns that express depressive symptomatology.

On this note it has also been shown that mindfulness meditation changes brain activity patterns and lowers cortisol levels but I digress.
 
  • #17
Evo
Mentor
23,925
3,264
It's also shown that compassion meditation negates brain activity patterns that express depressive symptomatology.

On this note it has also been shown that mindfulness meditation changes brain activity patterns and lowers cortisol levels but I digress.
Since this is a science forum, you do need to publish the scientific research that backs those claims. I know there is some evidence that people trained in meditation can reduce stress, but this would not be so unlike a religious person praying. For me a bugs bunny cartoon works, IMO. Basically, if it makes you feel better, less depressed, and more positive about your health, without being ingested, it's not bad.
 
  • #18
EntropicLove
45
1
Since this is a science forum, you do need to publish the scientific research that backs those claims. I know there is some evidence that people trained in meditation can reduce stress, but this would not be so unlike a religious person praying. For me a bugs bunny cartoon works, IMO. Basically, if it makes you feel better, less depressed, and more positive about your health, without being ingested, it's not bad.

My bad:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12883106
(mindfulness)

http://www.physorg.com/news125767090.html
(compassion)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_30JzRGDHI&feature=channel_video_title
This is Matthieu Ricard, a scientist who is a monk (very interesting google youtube video) to anyone who is interested. He conducted research about compassion meditation and brain pattern activation; he presents his depression negation from compassion meditation data at 42:45.
 
  • #19
intelfam
2
0
I suppose that the response to jduster should be "Believing in God relieves depression because, as he exists, he intervenes in people's lives to help them". But I can't find a reference for that either Dalespam!
I do have loads of references for mindfulness EntropicLove!. Now, if mindfulness were not derived from Buddhist practice, we might be able to fabricate a chain from mindfulness to God and stay on topic. Oh well ...
 
  • #20
jduster
1
0
I suppose that the response to jduster should be "Believing in God relieves depression because, as he exists, he intervenes in people's lives to help them". But I can't find a reference for that either Dalespam!

The study stated that the BELIEF in God relieves depression. There is no certain evidence that there is a God that exists in reality to relieve depression. Belief in God is solely a matter of taking a leap of faith as one cannot be completely sure if there is a God or no.
 
  • #21
intelfam
2
0
I think you missed the point.
But never mind, outside of our past conversation, you are correct, although we could debate the meaning of belief as over against faith. But I feel that we should then have to start another thread :eek:
 
  • #22
intelfam
2
0
My bad:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12883106
(mindfulness)

http://www.physorg.com/news125767090.html
(compassion)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_30JzRGDHI&feature=channel_video_title
This is Matthieu Ricard, a scientist who is a monk (very interesting google youtube video) to anyone who is interested. He conducted research about compassion meditation and brain pattern activation; he presents his depression negation from compassion meditation data at 42:45.

I found that interesting, thank you. I have, as I said, a number of references re mindfulness, and am starting to look at compassionate meditation re mental health (my field). There are a number of styles of prayer in christianity, other than the "help me dad" variety, so your quotes have relevance.
 
  • #23
WhoWee
210
0
The study stated that the BELIEF in God relieves depression. There is no certain evidence that there is a God that exists in reality to relieve depression. Belief in God is solely a matter of taking a leap of faith as one cannot be completely sure if there is a God or no.

On a cloudy day, does it give you comfort to think of the sky as blue?
 
  • #24
Forestman
212
2
I go back and forth between being agnostic, and believing in a personal caring God, but one thing is for sure. Ever since I dropped atheism I have been a much happier person.
 
  • #25
intelfam
2
0
I go back and forth between being agnostic, and believing in a personal caring God, but one thing is for sure. Ever since I dropped atheism I have been a much happier person.

I have to concur. I went from christian and scientist to atheist and scientist; then agnostic and scientist. Then I retrained in social sciences and went from agnostic to buddhist and now a sort of sceptical panentheism. I can't seem to connect with a personal caring deity. Nevertheless, my experience has now aligned with my fuzzy logic and I am certainly more content, if deluded.
 
  • #26
WhoWee
210
0
I dropped atheism I have been a much happier person.

Label this IMO please. Atheism is basically a belief in nothing - correct? On the surface that has a hopeless feel to me (again IMO). I think a belief in anything positive would be better than a belief in nothing - hopeful is better than hopeless. (IMO)
 
  • #27
intelfam
2
0
Sorry "IMO"
 
  • #28
WhoWee
210
0
  • #29
tjfloyd
6
0
It is true that believing in God (and any religious believe) relieves depression, anxiety, and many other mental disorders. Stressors affect a person, and how that person reacts to the stressor is called stress... now, how that individual perceives stress is called distress. Religiousity acts as a mediator between stress and distress.. and what causes religion to mediate stress is the various social supports that one gets from their religious institution. Let's say that Anna is very distressed from her job and three children that she has to take care of. Anna becomes depressed over the course of a few days, but then Sunday comes around, and she and her three children are off to church. Now, when she gets to church, she asks her church family to pray for her, because she is so distressed from her job. The church responds by maybe comforting her in her time of need, cooking food to take to her house, perhaps take up a special offering for her (I've seen this done many times). This is why religion relieves stress, because of the social capital she has invested with her religious institution. This, of course, is from a sociological perspective. Now, from a psychological perspective, her relationship with God may cause her to release certain hormones and natural pain killers when she prays that relieves her stress and anxiety and makes her feel better. Idk about that one, though.. psychology isn't my field of study :) One of you psychologists get on here and describe the psychology involved.
 
  • #30
WhoWee
210
0
It is true that believing in God (and any religious believe) relieves depression, anxiety, and many other mental disorders. Stressors affect a person, and how that person reacts to the stressor is called stress... now, how that individual perceives stress is called distress. Religiousity acts as a mediator between stress and distress.. and what causes religion to mediate stress is the various social supports that one gets from their religious institution. Let's say that Anna is very distressed from her job and three children that she has to take care of. Anna becomes depressed over the course of a few days, but then Sunday comes around, and she and her three children are off to church. Now, when she gets to church, she asks her church family to pray for her, because she is so distressed from her job. The church responds by maybe comforting her in her time of need, cooking food to take to her house, perhaps take up a special offering for her (I've seen this done many times). This is why religion relieves stress, because of the social capital she has invested with her religious institution. This, of course, is from a sociological perspective. Now, from a psychological perspective, her relationship with God may cause her to release certain hormones and natural pain killers when she prays that relieves her stress and anxiety and makes her feel better. Idk about that one, though.. psychology isn't my field of study :) One of you psychologists get on here and describe the psychology involved.

You've described the support provided by a social or community group.
 
  • #31
That's one of the Lord's miracles. Taking away the pain if you accept the light. If you for once believe that's a placebo effect all the "magic" is lost and that herein proves that He's for real.
 
  • #32
lisab
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
2,035
623
Label this IMO please. Atheism is basically a belief in nothing - correct? On the surface that has a hopeless feel to me (again IMO). I think a belief in anything positive would be better than a belief in nothing - hopeful is better than hopeless. (IMO)

There's a lot of misunderstanding of what atheism means.

Atheism is not the absence of hope; atheism is simply not believing in the supernatural. I'm atheist, and I still have hope, even in hopeless situations. When an ambulance goes by with its siren blaring, I still say a prayer for the person inside - even though I fully realize I'm not, in any way, affecting what's going on inside that ambulance. The prayer, I suppose, is an expression of hope. Part of my humanity, I guess. But I'm quite clear that there is nothing supernatural going on there.

All IMO :smile:.
 
  • #33
Gokul43201
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
7,176
22
On a cloudy day, does it give you comfort to think of the sky as blue?
Perhaps it does. I doubt there's been a scientific study. What's your point?
 
  • #34
WhoWee
210
0
Perhaps it does. I doubt there's been a scientific study. What's your point?

You might have to go back up-thread to keep this in context with respect to definitive proof. jduster stated "There is no certain evidence that there is a God that exists in reality to relieve depression. Belief in God is solely a matter of taking a leap of faith as one cannot be completely sure if there is a God or no. " Accordingly, I ask, is the sky really blue - or does it just look blue?

Another way to look at it is this, if you think of the sky as blue (and that makes you feel better than when it's cloudy) should you then remind yourself the sky really isn't blue - what would be the point of needing proof. If the thought of something positive makes you feel better - why not enjoy the moment?
 
  • #35
Gokul43201
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
7,176
22
You might have to go back up-thread to keep this in context with respect to definitive proof. jduster stated "There is no certain evidence that there is a God that exists in reality to relieve depression. Belief in God is solely a matter of taking a leap of faith as one cannot be completely sure if there is a God or no. " Accordingly, I ask, is the sky really blue - or does it just look blue?
I don't follow. Can you make your point about belief in God directly, without resorting to analogy?

Another way to look at it is this, if you think of the sky as blue (and that makes you feel better than when it's cloudy) should you then remind yourself the sky really isn't blue - what would be the point of needing proof.
Lost me again. The quote above from jduster says nothing about needing proof.
 

Suggested for: Studies: Belief in God relieves depression?

Replies
1
Views
313
  • Last Post
Replies
3
Views
927
Replies
113
Views
4K
  • Last Post
Replies
2
Views
1K
Replies
11
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
8
Views
1K
  • Last Post
Replies
2
Views
281
Replies
10
Views
287
Replies
3
Views
2K
Top