Gratitude is Good For Us, But It’s Not a Cure for Depression

So says a new study out of Ohio State, and I’d have to say I would agree.

The results suggest that it isn’t helpful to tell people with symptoms of depression or anxiety to simply be more grateful for the good things they have, Cheavens said.

“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,” she said.

I would hazard a guess that if we looked hard enough, we’d seem similar results for time spent in nature, or exercise, or certain diets.

All of these things can be good for us, and helpful to having better relationships, and happiness, but none are going to actually “cure” depression and anxiety. In the words of the researchers:


“It is good to be more grateful – it has intrinsic virtue and there’s evidence that people who have gratitude as a general trait have a lower incidence of mental health problems and better relationships,” Cregg said.

“The problem is when we try to turn gratefulness into a self-help tool. Gratitude can’t fix everything.”

It is good to remind ourselves of what we have to be grateful for, to remind ourselves of the people we are grateful for. It’s good for us to spend time outside on a sunny day, and it’s good for us to go for a walk, or a bike ride.They have benefits.

Suggesting that is all anyone needs to deal with mental health issues is going to result in a lot of frustrated people not getting better. Stop expecting these activities to “fix” everything.

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