Home Health Feeling Depressed? Scientists Have Found That Performing Acts of Kindness May Help

Feeling Depressed? Scientists Have Found That Performing Acts of Kindness May Help

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Depression is a common mental health condition characterized by sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest in everyday life. It can affect a person’s thinking, behavior, and overall well-being, and can be caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.

Studies show that helping others can make you less focused on your own symptoms.

People with depression and anxiety can help themselves recover by doing acts of kindness to others, according to new research.

The study found that acts of kindness improved symptoms more than two other treatments for treating depression and anxiety.

Most importantly, the act of kindness technique was the only intervention tested to help people feel more connected to others. Ohio State University.

“Social connections are one of the elements of life most strongly associated with happiness. Doing acts of kindness seems to be one of the best ways to foster those connections,” says Clegg. Told.

Clegg did the research with Jennifer Chevens, a professor of psychology at Ohio State University. Their research was recently published in The Journal of Positive Psychology.

The study also revealed why doing acts of kindness can be so effective. It has helped people free their minds from their depression and anxiety symptoms.

The findings suggest that the intuitions that many people have about depressed patients may be wrong, Cheavens said.

“People with depression often think they have had enough to deal with, so you don’t want to burden them with asking to help others. But these results go against that.” she said.

“Doing good things for people and focusing on the needs of others may actually help people with depression and anxiety feel better about themselves.”

The study involved 122 people in central Ohio with symptoms of moderate to severe depression, anxiety, and stress.

After an introductory session, participants were divided into three groups. Two of her groups were assigned to techniques commonly used in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for depression: planning social activities or cognitive reassessment.

Social activity groups were instructed to plan two social activities per week. Another group was instructed on one of the key points of CBT, cognitive reassessment. These participants kept records for at least two days each week to help identify negative thought patterns and modify their thoughts in ways that could reduce depression and anxiety.

Members of the third group were instructed to perform acts of kindness three times a day, two days a week. Acts of kindness were defined as “any large or small act that benefits or makes another person happy, usually at some cost in terms of time or resources.”

Kind acts that participants later said included baking cookies for their friends, offering to bring their friends on board, and leaving post-it notes with words of encouragement for their roommates. .

Participants followed the instructions for 5 weeks and were then reassessed. After another five weeks, the researchers asked the participants if the intervention was still working.

Findings showed that participants in all three groups showed improved life satisfaction and decreased depression and anxiety symptoms after 10 weeks of the study.

“These results are encouraging as they suggest that all three research interventions are effective in reducing distress and improving satisfaction.

“However, acts of kindness still showed advantages over both social activity and cognitive reappraisal by making people feel more connected to other people, which is an important part of happiness.

In addition, the results showed that the group that performed acts of kindness had greater improvements in life satisfaction and symptoms of depression and anxiety than the group that underwent cognitive reassessment.

Cheavens pointed out in the study that simply participating in social activities does not improve feelings of social connection.

“There’s something about doing acts of kindness that makes people feel connected to others. It’s not enough just to participate in social activities and be around other people,” she said. Told.

Cregg said that while the study uses CBT techniques, it’s not the same experience as going through CBT. Those who received full treatment may have better results than those in this study.

But the findings show that even the limited CBT exposure given in this study is helpful, Cheevens said.

“Not everyone who could benefit from psychotherapy has the opportunity to receive it,” she said. It has been found to be really effective in reducing anxiety symptoms.”

And beyond traditional CBT, acts of kindness can have additional benefits in creating social connections, Cregg said.

“Something as simple as helping others goes far beyond other treatments to help heal people with depression and anxiety,” he said.

Reference: “Healing by Helping: An Experimental Investigation of Kindness, Social Activity, and Reappraisal as Happiness Interventions,” David R. Cregg and Jennifer S. Cheavens, 12 December 2022, Available here. journal of positive psychology.
DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2022.2154695

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