Thankful for Mental Health: The Connection Between Gratitude & Depression


Thanksgiving is upon us and it is a wonderful reminder of the universal message of gratitude. Gratitude is an expression of appreciation, generosity and thankfulness, and it can be extended to ourselves or to others. Practicing gratitude in our daily lives, not just during the holiday season, has been proven to have many benefits on the mind, body and spirit. For many, the conscious choice of practicing gratitude is easy…but what about those suffering from depression? 

The goal of practicing gratitude as a form of self-care is to bring a sense of well-being and contentment through the appreciation of things in our lives. When a person is suffering from depression, though, it can be hard to practice any type of self-care. It is not impossible, however. With the right strategy, even someone in the darkest place can start the practice of gratitude and experience the pain relieving benefits it can provide. 

Here are some ways to start cultivating gratitude:

1. Find something positive
When suffering from depression, it is easy to focus on the negatives. Try finding something about yourself that is positive. It could be your strength, compassion, or any other number of wonderful qualities you possess. Practicing gratitude for these things helps identify that there is more to you than just your depression.

2. Keep a gratitude journal
Get a notebook or a journal and start writing down a few things everyday that you are thankful for. Recognizing what you are grateful for will help keep you focused on what you have rather than what you don’t have. Take the time to also read over your journal, especially when you may be struggling the most. 

3. Connect with others
This may be difficult as depression tends to draw people away from social interactions. Try, however, to make a conscious effort to connect with loved ones, friends or support groups. Focus on just being present with them and not set any expectations.

4. Volunteer
By reaching out to other people, we can experience the gratitude they have towards us, and be grateful that we were able to help them. 

5. Focus externally
Depression can keep you focused on the internal. You feel lethargic, sad, lonely, or maybe you feel nothing at all. By focusing gratitude externally, you can help ground yourself in the moment. Take a look around you and find something in your everyday life, no matter how small. You may be grateful for something as simple as a cup of hot coffee on a chilly morning. 

6. Meditate
A mindful meditation session can help one be in the present moment without judgement.  Make this part of your daily routine by carving out 10 minutes per day. Use this time to focus on what you are grateful for. 

Gratitude may not help cure your depression. It may only be able to help ease the pain in some situations. In cases of severe depression, pharmacological intervention should still be sought out. These may include treatments such as the use of antidepressants or ketamine infusions. 

Our Boston and West Hartford area ketamine clinics offer ketamine infusions and Spravato™ for those suffering from depression and other severe psychiatric disorders. We’ve found that the patients who experience the most relief with ketamine infusions couple their treatments with other holistic depression treatments, like practicing gratitude or exercising. If you are suffering, contact us for a free consultation. Our physicians are happy to answer any questions you have about ketamine infusions.

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