August 9, 2011

Religious Beliefs Affect Worrying

(Ivanhoe Newswire) "“ This new study shows 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 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," author of the paper, David H. Rosmarin, PhD, assistant in psychology at McLean, was quoted as saying.

"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," Dr. Rosmarin said.

The paper looked at 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," Dr. Rosmarin said."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."

"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."

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.

SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Psychology, published online August 9, 2011