Strong faith may help deal with psychiatric illness

Without a sense of spirituality, we are hollow. We need to believe that there is something deeper at work in our lives. If we don’t, why are we even breathing? We might as well be bloodless! Thankfully, everyone is “spiritual” to some degree, whether he or she admits it or not. Spirituality is the backbone of civilization. Recent research suggests that a sense of the spiritual may also be the backbone of positive mental health, that is, patients may experience better treatment outcomes for psychiatric illness if they possess strong faith.


David Rosmarin, a clinician and instructor in the department of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School in Boston, said, “We found that patients who had higher levels of belief in God had better treatment outcomes – better well-being, less depression and less anxiety.” It is easier dealing with depression when you see a silver lining. God is often that silver lining. If not God, then strong belief in anything may be therapeutic.


faith and mental illness


Rosmarin and other researchers observed 159 patients. These patients battled a slew of psychiatric maladies, including depression and anxiety. Faith-driven patients responded to treatment in a more positive way. While we can draw no concrete conclusions, the results are nonetheless interesting. It makes sense though, as people who believe in God (or something else) truly feel a part of the bigger picture. They are convinced they have a role to play. While some may think this is an obnoxious sense of self-importance, one thing is clear: when one feels important, he or she is more likely to want to feel and get better. Faith, or spirituality, certainly affects therapy, but to what degree?


Rosmarin’s research was recently published in the Journal of Affective Disorders. For a summary of the study, refer to Denise Chow’s article, “Belief in God May Boost Treatment of Mental Illness.”


At the Bio Institute of Light and Sound, we recognize the role spirituality plays in therapy, especially sound and light therapy, and encourage further research on the subject. What do you think?




*Image courtesy of George Hodan