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Faith May Complement Treatment for Mental Illness

A belief in God may boost the effectiveness of short-term treatment for mental illness, according to a small new study.

The study included 159 psychiatric patients whose levels of depression, well-being and self-harm were assessed at the start and end of the study. The patients also were asked about their belief in God.

Patients with higher levels of belief in God were twice as likely to respond to treatment as those with no or little belief in God. Even among the more than 30 percent of patients who said they had no specific religious affiliation, those who had a moderate or high belief in God had a better response to treatment than those with little or no belief.

The study appears in the latest issue of the Journal of Affective Disorders.

A strong belief in God may boost patients’ conviction that treatment will help them and their expectations of success, the researchers suggested.

Although the study found an association between belief in God and increased response to psychiatric treatment, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

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