“We often think that people with depression have enough to deal with, so we don’t want to burden them by asking them to help others,” say researchers from Ohio State University. Error. According to them, “Doing nice things for people and focusing on the needs of others can actually help people with depression and anxiety feel better about themselves.”
To reach this conclusion about the antidepressant benefits of altruism, the authors recruited 122 people with moderate to severe symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress. They were then divided into 3 groups: 2 followed techniques classically used in cognitive behavioral therapy, and the third instructed them to perform three altruistic acts, 2 days a week. Baking cookies for friends, words of encouragement… lots of examples of acts of kindness reported by participants.
Ten weeks of the intervention reduced depressive symptoms in all groups. “But acts of kindness have consistently shown more benefits in making people feel more connected to others, which is an important part of well-being,” the scientists say. According to them, “just being surrounded is not enough.” The element of “altruism” is essential.