Giving Thanks Helps Depression, Study

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Depression is the opposite of a state of thankfulness and being thankful and grateful could help symptoms of depression. Research that appeared in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology confirmed that those individuals who kept a weekly gratitude journal were more optimistic about life, more likely to exercise regularly, and felt better physically compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events.

More and more studies just like this are coming to light about the powers of gratitude and healing depression. There have been many studies and surveys on the power of gratitude and depression. In a survey commissioned by spirituality.com, 84% of Americans said expressing gratitude reduces stress and depression and fosters better health and optimism.

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Gratitude is a powerful antidote to depression. Martin Seligman, PhD, a pioneer in the positive psychology movement, and colleagues at University of Pennsylvania delivered gratitude instructions to 50 severely depressed visitors to a self-help website. They recommended that individuals take time each day to write down three things that went well that day, and why they thought so. Fifteen days later, 94 percent of the 50 individuals reported feeling significantly less depressed.

Another study comkpleted by Dr. Michael McCollough, in Dallas, Texas, and Dr. Robert Emmons, of the University of California at Davis, did a study that indicated that gratitude plays a significant role in a person's sense of well-being. After making initial observations and compiling all the previous research on gratitude, they conducted the Research Project on Gratitude and Thanksgiving. The study required several hundred people in three different groups to keep daily diaries. The results of the study indicated that daily gratitude exercises resulted in higher reported levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism and energy. Additionally, the gratitude group experienced less depression and stress.

Cultivating gratitude is a powerful way to overcome depression. By choosing to focus on the positive in your life and the things that surround you, rather than ruminating on your disappointments and deficits, you nourish positive feelings about yourself, your life, and others. Gratitude, or thankfulness, is an appreciation and expressing gratitude makes one feel good and makes others and the depressed person fill with positive energy and people can begin to feel upbeat and encouraged. This Thanksgiving, allow yourself to feel gratitude year round.

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