the long dark teatime of the soul

by Wednesday.

You know, Thursday, I didn’t realise that the only reason we have chronic depression is because we are insufficiently theist.

Or at least The Christian Post Singapore blithely reports that ‘Believing God Cares Cures Depression, Study Finds’.

Well, I never. Medical victim-blaming! My day is so cheered.

I don’t deny that religious or spiritual belief may help with any illness, mental health issues included, but it’s one thing to say that, and another to say, ‘A belief in a God who cares is the solution to depression, new research has shown.’

It’s one step from there to ‘You’re not cured because you’re not trying‘, where ‘trying’ means ‘attempting to be happy’, ‘medicating yourself’, or ‘believing in a deity’. It’s one step from there to Depression Bingo (transcript available here courtesy of adorianmode).

And, in any case, the original researchers only said:

The present study is observational; these results support, but do not prove that belief in a caring and concerned God plays a role in response to treatment for people diagnosed with depression. Persons with depression often describe using religion to cope. The results of the present study suggest that when treating persons diagnosed with depression, clinicians should consider inquiring about and providing support for this important resource.

In fact, they even suggested that depression may be made worse by the emphasis on religiosity that the Christian Post is advocating:

Another perspective on the results of our study is that low RWB scores might indicate a loss of belief or religious struggle (Fitchett et al., 2004) in the face of symptoms, which would add to a patient’s distress. If this is true, it is important for clinicians to assess for religious struggle in persons with depressive symptoms.

Source: Murphy, Patricia E., and Fitchett, George. ‘Belief in a concerned god predicts response to treatment for adults with clinical depression.’ Journal of Clinical Psychology 65.9 (2009): 1000-8.

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