Acknowledging the good things in life and being grateful for them can have some positive impact on your mood and some other aspects of your life. However, gratitude interventions alone do not have the potential to cure depression, found a recent study.
The study, conducted by a team of researchers at Ohio State University, was a review of the results of 27 papers that studied gratitude interventions and their relation with the symptoms of depression and anxiety. It found that while gratitude interventions have their own possible benefits, it cannot be used as a cure for depression.
In several of these studies which were reviewed, the effects of writing a gratitude journal were compared to the effects of mundane routines such as writing down schedules. It was concluded that there was not much difference in the effects of both these activities with respect to depression and anxiety symptoms.
“Based on our results, telling people who are feeling depressed and anxious to be more grateful likely won’t result in the kind of reductions in depression and anxiety we would want to see,” said Dr. Jennifer Cheavens, associate professor of psychology at Ohio State University. “It might be that these sorts of interventions, on their own, aren’t powerful enough or that people have difficulty enacting them fully when they are feeling depressed and anxious.”
Common gratitude practices this study came across were writing about three things you are grateful about at the end of the day, also known as ‘Three Little Things’, and ‘gratitude visit’. The latter requires you to write a letter to a person you think made a difference in your life, and read it to them.
While it might not cure depression, gratitude can have its own unique benefits. It can improve relationships, notes the study. The paper was published in the Journal of Happiness Studies.
If you have are seeking help with depression and anxiety symptoms, it is advisable to seek professional help. You can start by looking online for available resources in your area.