A STUDY has shown that faithful followers of a religion tend to suffer less from stress and cope better with crises, including serious illnesses.
According to investigators at McLean hospital, an affiliate of Harvard University, believing in a benevolent God are generally more confident and less prone to mental illness.
A study of 447 followers of various religions, including Jews and Christians, revealed that they had a better 'pain threshold' in the face of uncertainty and traumatic life experiences than atheists and agnostics, and religious persons who had a relationship of fear with their chosen deity.
Those who regard God as a fearful authority rather than a gentle, loving, all-protecting being tended to be less tolerant, suffer more from stress and handle personal problems much less effectively.
McLean hospital psychologist David Rosmarin, the main author of the study, said it showed that therapists and doctors needed to take patients' faith and spiritual values much more seriously when treating them.
An earlier study in the USA showed that religious patients diagnosed with serious or even terminal illnesses suffered less emotionally, believing that it was God's will and He would protect them.