Depression: being kind to others would reduce symptoms

Depression: being kind to others would reduce symptoms

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  • Globally, it is estimated that 5% of adults suffer from depression.
  • Nearly 8% of adolescents between 12 and 18 years old are affected by this mental illness.
  • Feeling depressed, feeling unwell or having low spirits is not always synonymous with depression.

Showing kindness leads to a longer life, reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and decreasing the stress response. This was shown by research published in 2019. Recently, scientists from Ohio State University (USA) revealed that being nice leads to improved symptoms in people with dementia. depression and anxiety.

To reach this conclusion, they carried out a study, the results of which were published in the journal The Journal of Positive Psychology. “Social connection is essential to well-being. It is often impaired in patients suffering from anxiety or depressive disorders. However, cognitive behavioral therapies (CBT) may be ineffective in improving social connection”, wrote the team.

Depression: comparing the effectiveness of CBTs and good deeds

As part of their work, the researchers recruited 122 adults who had moderate to severe symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress. The participants were divided into three groups.

Members of two groups received behavioral and cognitive therapies to treat depression. They had to plan social activities two days a week or focus on “cognitive reappraisal”. Put simply, they had to keep a diary at least two days a week that helped them identify their negative thoughts and replace them with thoughts and reactions in line with reality.

As for the members of the third group, they were asked to do three good deeds a day for two days of the week. These acts should “to benefit others or make them happy”. Among the good deeds participants said they had done were baking cookies for friends, offering to drive someone home, and leaving encouraging messages for roommates.

“Focus on the needs of others” to get better

After five weeks of follow-up, patients were interviewed to determine if the interventions were effective. The authors found that participants in all three groups had increased life satisfaction and reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety. However, showing kindness, by doing good deeds, helped foster social bonds, “which is an important element of well-being”.

“Doing nice things for people and focusing on the needs of others can help people with depression and anxiety forget about their own symptoms of depression and anxiety and feel better about themselves. (…) Something something so simple may be more effective than other treatments in helping depressed and anxious patients recover.”the researchers explained in a statement.

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