Saturday March 02, 2024

Being kind to others can 'reduce symptoms of depression '

Performing good deed helped people relax and forget about their anxiety and depression, says research

By Web Desk
January 21, 2023
Image shows mother and daughter at the kitchen table.— Pexels
Image shows mother and daughter at the kitchen table.— Pexels

It is understandable to feel overburdened and even despondent given the inflation, recession, and other events taking place in the world. You can experience a cycle of anxiety, with your heart thumping continuously and thoughts running through your mind. 

But to counter it, according to a recent study from Ohio State University, showing kindness can actually lessen depression symptoms.

Compared to the other two therapeutic approaches, only an act of kindness, according to research co-author David Cregg, allows people to feel connected.

What are anxiety and depression?

People frequently experience anxiety. It's normal to feel worried before giving a presentation or starting your first job. It's also typical to feel gloomy after a breakup and want to binge Netflix. However, people who experience anxiety and despair more severely may experience more severe mental health issues.

Daily activities like going to school or even leaving the house might be made more difficult by anxiety. You may experience specific anxiety, such as while boarding a flight or using an elevator, or you may experience general worry. 

Anxiety can cause nausea, dizziness, a rapid heartbeat, persistent thoughts, and even panic attacks.

Another mood condition that can have a significant impact on a person's life and interfere with daily activities is depression. Massive sadness, emptiness, and even hopelessness can accompany depression. It can also lead to weariness and make one feel easily irritated and upset. Physical symptoms like headaches or muscle discomfort may result from it.

What did the study find?

"Social connection is one of the ingredients of life most strongly associated with wellbeing. Performing acts of kindness seem to be one of the best ways to promote those connections," Cregg said in a news release.

The purpose of the study, which was just published in The Journal of Positive Psychology, was to explore ways to reduce depression symptoms. According to the research, performing a good deed helped people relax and forget about their anxiety and depression.

"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. But these results run counter to that," said Ohio State professor and co-author of the study Jennifer Cheavens.

People with depression and anxiety may find that being kind to others and attending to their needs makes them feel better about themselves.

They gathered 122 volunteers in central Ohio who had mild to moderate signs of stress, anxiety, and depression. Following the introduction, the participants were separated into three groups.

Two of the three groups underwent cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to reduce depressive symptoms, while the third group concentrated on social interaction and cognitive revaluation. The CBT group received therapy interventions, while the social group was instructed to schedule social activities on two days each week.

To identify negative thought patterns and investigate how they could lessen despair and anxiety, each participant wrote down their symptoms and kept a record of them for two days each week.

The third group was told to practise acts of kindness twice a week. "Big or small activities that benefit others or make others happy, usually at some cost to you in terms of time or resources," were defined as showing an act of kindness.

Some people prepared treats for their pals, drove friends somewhere, or even sent sweet notes to their housemates.

For five weeks, all individuals adhere to their instructions before being tested again. Researchers from the study checked with each participant to determine the efficacy of each strategy.

The outcome showed that after ten weeks, depression and anxiety symptoms had decreased in all three groups, demonstrating a positive response to their therapeutic strategies.