Religious beliefs impact levels of worry

Researchers at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital have found that those who believe in a benevolent God tend to worry less and be more tolerant of life’s uncertainties than those who believe in an indifferent or punishing God.

The paper, recently published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, which will be presented by lead author David H. Rosmarin, PhD, assistant in psychology at McLean, at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association on Friday, Aug. 5 in Washington, D.C., urges mental health professionals to integrate patients’ spiritual beliefs into their treatment regimens, especially for patients who are religious.

“The implications of this paper for the field of psychiatry are that we have to take patients’ spirituality more seriously than we do,” Rosmarin said.

“Most practitioners are unprepared to conceptualize how spiritual beliefs may contribute to affective states and thus many struggle to integrate such themes into treatment in a spiritually sensitive manner,” the paper says.

The paper reports data from two separate studies. One questioned 332 subjects solicited from religious web sites and religious organizations. It included Christians and Jews.

This study found that those who trusted in God to look out for them had lower levels of worry and less intolerance of uncertainty in their lives than those who had a “mistrust” of God to help them out.

The second study was of 125 subjects culled from Jewish organizations. They were shown an audio-video program designed to increase trust in God and decrease mistrust in God. Participants in the two-week program reported significant increases in trust in God and significant decreases in mistrust in God, as well as clinically and statistically significant decreases in intolerance of uncertainty, worry and stress.

“These findings…suggest that certain spiritual beliefs are tied to intolerance of uncertainty and worry for some individuals,” the paper concludes.

“We found that the positive beliefs of trust in God were associated with less worry and that this relationship was partially mediated by lower levels of intolerance of uncertainty,” it added. “Conversely, the negative beliefs of mistrust in God correlated with higher worry and intolerance…”

The study sought to get a greater understanding of why people worry.

“We had proposed that beliefs about God, both positive and negative, would relate to both worry and intolerance of uncertainty and we found support for our model,” Rosmarin said in an interview. “They do relate.”

The paper noted that other studies have shown that 93 percent of Americans believe in God or a higher power and that 50 percent of them say that religion is very important to them.

“Furthermore, existing evidence indicates that many areas of spirituality and religion are salient predictors of psychological functioning,” it adds.

Yet Rosmarin said that mental health providers rarely if ever ask patients about their spiritual beliefs. “That’s crazy,” he said. “We don’t even ask. We aren’t trained to. And it is important.”

Rosmarin said the matter is “a health care issue, not a religious issue,” and said that by knowing what people believe, mental health professionals can do a better job of helping patients.

The material in this press release comes from the originating research organization. Content may be edited for style and length. Want more? Sign up for our daily email.

4 thoughts on “Religious beliefs impact levels of worry”

  1. Religion should help spreading “serenity” among people. But, these days especially in india, the people are exploited in the name of religion. Their emotions attached with religious concepts are finally exploited by crooked hearted people whose whole aim is to mint money. They dont actually care about Gods. Hinduism is full of supersticious beliefs. They are brainwashed to follow something and are warned if they dont follow then they would have to face the wrath of the supreme power. YES!!! indeed there are unknown forces up above they are constantly watching us all. They only give importance to the good deeds. They are noting who are the people who are actually spreading violence in the name of religion and also hurting the emotions of people by using the name of religion. Unless people are with good conscience there is no use of visiting holy shrines. In india there are preists in temples who do not allow people they say belong to lower caste…are they called humans? Here, humans are against humans. Heartless humans chanting hymns in temples.

    Mother Thersa is known for her charity work even now. We seek peace by following a faith. But, why the matter of exploitation comes in. Cash, jewellery, diamonds are they going to satisify the Almighty. No, instead of spedning money for the looting shrines, people should think about helping the people who are in need. There are so many helping homes where people are in need of love and care.

    Yes. it is true, those who are believers of Gods think about Gods sometimes only, but those who are ethiest think about gods so many times. Because, they are searching Gods. When people find no results for them, and also atrocities in the society they begin their search finally, they find the great truth that all the gods are worshipped by all the people but in different ways and concepts though seems to be the same differs also when we explore the books we can find. What forces make a person believe that there is a spiritual world, why does he or she think about spirits…no clue at all…God is One and He is for All. I dont believe that if something does not happen then the person should change his faith or religion. He should accept the fact that “Destiny” is already written for him and he should be courageous to accept. God gives pain to those hearts which is tolerant. After all we are humanbeings with normal emotions, we should learn to accept everything both good and bad in life. We learn gradually about life, people, death and the evergreen passion for seeking Gods. The more we think about the Almighty power the more we gain wisdom. What i think there is no need for someone to follow. what i have found there may be protest. but, what i learnt that NATURE IS STILL A MYSTERY. The Sun, Moon, Stars all the celestial bodies attracts me a lot. There is a bright sun also and the truth is there is a black hole Sun also which does not have bright rays. Both energies are existing. Both positive and negative. We should make our brain not to follow the path of satan which is always welcoming us all.. all the time. God is testing us all indirectly. Our deeds are noted. Peace atmosphere should not be corrupted by selfish humanbeings who loot the “innocent” money of people. But, the looting will continue…no end at all.

  2. Milton Rokeach wrote: “paradoux of religious belief”, in 1970’s; and he explaneid about that “incongruence”: people who believes in love and religion many time is very punished to belief’s others; Batson wrote too, aboy the “God Samaritan”.

  3. Knowing, as I do, that the flying spaghetti monster is entirely benevolent, I tend to take my tagliatelle as they come, but hopefully verde and al dente….


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