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Friday, April 26, 2013

New Study Examines The Power Of Prayer And The Treatment Of Depression

Do you believe in the power of prayer?

How often do you pray? Do you believe in the power of prayer? These might seem like simple questions, but when you think about your day to day life, do you ever say a silent prayer for simple things? For example, if you are running late for work do you ever say something like "please let me get to work on time"? Or if your family member is ill, do you silently ask for their life to be spared? Or perhaps when some horrific event occurs, do you pray for a peaceful outcome. Even if you do not practice a specific religion there is probably a pretty good chance that you call on some "higher power" to intercede and bring about a good result.

New research finds that people who believe in a higher power respond better to psychiatric treatment...

This week the results of a new study "A test of faith in God and treatment: The relationship of belief in God to psychiatric treatment outcomes" were published in the April 2013 issue of the Journal of Affective Disorders. The study's methods included working with 159 patients over the course of one year in a day-treatment program at an academic psychiatric hospital. The researchers assessed the following elements prior to treatment:
  1. Belief in God
  2. Treatment credibility and expectancy
  3. Emotion regulation 
  4. Congregational support

The study's results...

  • Belief in God was significantly higher among treatment responders than non-responders
  • Higher levels of belief were associated with greater reductions in depression
  • Greater improvements in psychological well-being over the course of treatment

Comments from the study's author

WebMD offers insights from the study's lead author, David Rosmarin, a clinician at McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA and an instructor in the psychiatry department at Harvard Medical School:
"Our work suggests that people with a moderate to high level of belief in a higher power do significantly better in short-term psychiatric treatment than those without, regardless of their religious affiliation. Belief was associated with not only improved psychological well-being, but decreases in depression and intention to self-harm. Given the prevalence of religious belief in the United States -- more than 90 percent of the population -- these findings are important in that they highlight the clinical implications of spiritual life. I hope that this work will lead to larger studies and increased funding in order to help as many people as possible."  

Going forward...

It is true, this is a small study, but it dovetails with previous research completed by San Francisco General Hospital when they monitored the effects of prayer for 393 cardiac patients - those who were prayed for had fewer complications like pneumonia and needed less drug treatment.

Working with people who suffer from the disease of addiction and co-occurring disorders like depression and self-harm allows us to witness those who find recovery with a higher power in their life. Celebrate Hope culminates a Biblical Christ centered approach to healing, restoration, and reconciliation to God, family, and to one's own dignity and self-worth.

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