The mind certainly works in mysterious ways. Chaplains at Rush have discovered a curious fact: people who have been diagnosed with clinical depression are more likely to respond to medication if they believe in a caring God.
Antidepressants can be an effective treatment for depression, but they don’t work for everyone. In this study, the authors found that patients who had strong beliefs in a personal and concerned God were more likely to experience a 50-percent reduction in symptoms.
The researchers tested whether the explanation for the improved response was linked instead to the feeling of hope, which is typically a feature of religious belief. But degree of hopefulness, measured by feelings and expectations for the future and degree of motivation, did not predict whether a patient fared better on anti-depressants.
The study’s primary author, Patricia Murphy, PhD, a chaplain at Rush University Medical Center and an assistant professor of religion, health and human values at Rush University, says that medical professionals who treat depression “need to be aware of the role religion plays in their patients’ lives. Spiritual beliefs can be an important resource in planning patients’ care.”