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An Attitude of Gratitude & Depression

(130 Posts)
Sparklefizz Tue 20-Nov-18 08:56:43

Can being thankful, and actually saying "Thank you" help to ease depression? I suppose it's what our grandparents used to say: "Count your blessings". I personally think it works.

Teetime Tue 20-Nov-18 09:04:08

I think its all part of thinking in a positive way, be grateful for your life and the people in it, being kind and having positive regard for other people. I remember reading a self help book once whose main message, and I paraphrase was 'act happy and you will be happy'.

M0nica Tue 20-Nov-18 09:06:59

I think doing this encourages people to look at the good things in their lives, not something those who are depressed naturally do.

Many people naturally dwell on the things going wrong in their lives - and that can feed into depression, to be reminded of the good things in their lives seems a natural balance.

Lynne59 Tue 20-Nov-18 09:17:56

The article also says that writing "Thank you" letters can help with heart failure. Tosh.

kittylester Tue 20-Nov-18 09:29:15

I'm wandering around GN, this morning agreeing with both Teetime and MOnica. Great minds and all that.

I might agree with Lynne too.

stella1949 Tue 20-Nov-18 09:36:23

Gratitude can certainly help with your feelings about life. When I had ovarian cancer, 18 years ago, a friend suggested that I start a "gratitude diary" where I could write down everything I was grateful for, each day. I still keep that diary - every night I write down anything I am grateful for, whether it's the love of my family or for something nice which has happened. That diary has really helped me to see life in a positive way, and to value the big and small things which happen every day.

Nonnie Tue 20-Nov-18 09:41:56

A very small study which proves nothing to me. Yes, those who are mildly 'depressed' will benefit from thinking about the good things in their lives but clinically depressed people are actually ill! Do they really think that positive thinking will cure people? Just one more example of people not understanding depressive illness and suggesting that some little thing will cure it. I get quite cross when people minimize such debilitating illness.

Luckygirl Tue 20-Nov-18 09:48:41

Nonnie - I do agree with you. I have good reason to know the difference between feeling low and a true depressive illness. I am sure that gratitude and counting blessings is a very good thing for those who are feeling low; for those with depression it is just laughable. I could barely function at all - just getting out of bed and moving about were a challenge and I felt so overwhelmingly ill that death seemed the only solution. It is truly horrendous - I never want to go there again.

One of the drugs that I am meant to take for my AF triggered a hint of depression starting up and I have chosen not to take it and just take my chance with the heart thing - I know I would not survive a second bout of depression similar to the previous one.

Nonnie Tue 20-Nov-18 09:53:14

Yes Lucky I do understand, been there too. I would have expected by now that people carrying out research would understand the difference between feeling low and genuine depression. On another thread someone has suggested that when things get bad we should just find a way of accepting it. I'm glad for them that they don't understand, it means they have never had to face the things which are unfaceable but it is not something we can just tell ourselves to do. I wish it were that simple.

MawBroon Tue 20-Nov-18 10:07:03

I find it simplistic and too much of a “quick fix” which does no favours to those with true depression.
Yes the power of positive thinking can be a powerful factor in our daily lives, but curing depression?
If only it were that easy.

Iam64 Tue 20-Nov-18 10:15:41

I haven't read the link, apologies if I'm saying something it covers. I've read that people who have experienced depression are often good at recognising if it's staging a re-visit. The power of positive thinking, along with a good diet, fresh air and the love of others can help keep depression at bay. I do agree though, with those who say if someone is hit by a depressive illness a bit of positive thinking will be hard to achieve.

Lynne59 Tue 20-Nov-18 10:19:41

Articles like this one in the newspapers make me angry. People with true depression (I'm one of them) are told we shouldn't feel ashamed as it's all to do with the chemicals in our brains, and that we should speak about our feelings. This tripe undoes all of that - it claims that anyone with depression can feel better by being thankful. I AM thankful - that my antidepressants are working, and that my family understand me. Writing a bloody "Thank you" note to the dustbinmen won't cure me though.....

MawBroon Tue 20-Nov-18 10:29:13

But it might prevent your recycling being tipped out all over your front step! grin

BlueSky Tue 20-Nov-18 10:43:10

'Nonnie' and 'Luckygirl' I'm with you on this. Same as when they suggest broccoli protects from cancer and such likes. If only it was as easy as that! Rather upset as I said in another thread all my years of eating low salt have given me not just too low levels of it but increased my sugar and cholesterol levels! confused

Lynne59 Tue 20-Nov-18 11:04:26

MawBroon grin

M0nica Tue 20-Nov-18 11:56:51

I think some responders are reading too much into this research than it actually says.

No-one is suggesting that it provides a cure or instant help for people who are distressed or severely clinically depressed. In a way it sounds like a mild version of CBT, it encourages people to look at what is good in their life as well as all that is bad. If people have a more positive attitude to life because they are thinking of the good, they tend to be more proactive about looking after themselves, eating a better diet, perhaps a bit more exercise.

Fennel Tue 20-Nov-18 12:03:52

Since returning to the NE I've noticed that people thank a lot more than in the South, or in France.
eg in the supermarket, for putting the separator on the moving belt at the till.
Getting on and off the bus, to the driver. It's often followed by a smile, part of socialising.

Nonnie Tue 20-Nov-18 13:24:39

MOnica I get what you say but the article used the word 'depression'. Had it said 'a bit sad' or 'a little upset' I could understand it but it clearly didn't understand anything at all about depression.

I can understand why anyone who hasn't had direct experience of depression would think this is OK but it is clear from reading the posts on here that those who do have such experience think it is not appropriate.

oldbatty Tue 20-Nov-18 13:33:53

Nobody but nobody chooses depression.

M0nica Tue 20-Nov-18 13:59:43

Nonnie, There is a big gap between serious depression and being a 'little upset'.

I can see that in the early stages of depression or where someone has episodes that this could help.

A member of my family suffered from depression all his life and I often thought that CBT that could help him to at least address some of his self-defeating behaviours, that fed into the depression. He used to do jobs around the house, but never did them properly because, he knew before he started that they would be a disaster - and of course they always were, which fed into his sense of hopelessness and helplessness. On those rare occasions, when, more by accident than design, things went well you could see a change in mood.

Nonnie Tue 20-Nov-18 14:08:06

MOnica I did know that! That is why I posted as I did.

I disagree about 'the early stages of depression' because I don't think there is any such thing. I think there may be situations which lead to depression but perhaps we have different understandings of what depression is. I believe it is a serious illness which can't be cured by a few words or pleasant situations. As a senior psychiatrist said "If you won the lottery today you wouldn't feel any better". Depression has nothing to do with reason, you can't talk yourself out of it.

Day6 Tue 20-Nov-18 16:14:08

but clinically depressed people are actually ill! Do they really think that positive thinking will cure people?

I agree with you Nonnie

Deep, diagnosed depression means for most that all of life is flat. There is no enthusiasm or energy for anything. A friend described it as mere existence, when life is empty of everything and holds no joy whatsoever.

A chemical imbalance causes it and often people are given tablets or therapy to help. It may lift gradually, but we must remember that "pulling yourself together" or counting blessings is, for the depressed person, just another guilt trip. Most know they have family, friends and things to be grateful for but it makes no difference to the way they feel.

Like others, I can feel down and vaguely miserable and I can shake myself out of low moods and I do remind myself often how fortunate I am. It doesn't work for everyone.

It doesn't hurt to reframe a situation if you possibly can and look for the positives, but that is more of a coping mechanism than anything. It's worth employing I think.

Lynne59 Tue 20-Nov-18 18:01:50

There are various types of depression... Clinical depression (used to be known as Endogenous depression) has NO cause, other than the depletion of certain chemicals in the brain, so, therefore, CBT alone, or trying to see the good things in life, don't work. People who have never suffered from this type of depression have no idea at all how it feels.

I know someone who had a leg amputated (my brother), and I can sympathise and read up about it - but I haven't experienced it, so cannot KNOW how it feels.

Jane43 Tue 20-Nov-18 18:11:19

Stella1949 what a lovely idea. I have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and it would be very appropriate for me to do that. My daughter-in-law always buys me a diary for Christmas so I will get started soon.

M0nica Tue 20-Nov-18 19:20:18

We will have to agree to differ.