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A new study finds that having faith in a God that cares helps patients recover from serious depression. Faith, the researchers found, was different than hope. Having hope for the future did not predict better health. In addition, having faith alone did not help patients. Rather faith aided those who were clinically depressed to better respond to medical treatment.

Medical News Today reports:

Response to medication, defined as a 50-percent reduction in symptoms, can vary in psychiatric patients. Some may not respond at all. But the study found that those with strong beliefs in a personal and concerned God were more likely to experience an improvement. Specifically, participants who scored in the top third of the Religious Well-Being Scale were 75-percent more likely to get better with medical treatment for clinical depression. …

“In our study, the positive response to medication had little to do with the feeling of hope that typically accompanies spiritual belief,” said Patricia Murphy, PhD, a chaplain at Rush and an assistant professor of religion, health and human values at Rush University. “It was tied specifically to the belief that a Supreme Being cared.”

“For people diagnosed with clinical depression, medication certainly plays an important role in reducing symptoms,” Murphy said. “But when treating persons diagnosed with depression, clinicians need to be aware of the role of religion in their patients’ lives. It is an important resource in planning their care.”

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