Study: Impact of Gratitude on depression, suicidal ideation, and self-esteem

By R. Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

One definition of gratitude is a state of mind where one feels and expresses thankfulness consistently over time and across situations (1).

In a previous post, we reviewed the role of specific gratitude exercise on happiness, stress, and depression (2, 3).

A recent study looked at the relationship of a person’s gratitude levels on depression, suicidal-ideation, and self-esteem among college students.

What did the study involve?
• 814 college students, with a mean age of 20.13 years (4).

• Participants completed questionnaires measuring gratitude, depression, suicidal ideation, and self esteem (4).
• The relationship between these four factors was analyzed (4).

What did the results show? (4)
• Participants with higher levels of gratefulness tended to have a higher level of self-esteem (4).
• Higher self-esteem decreased suicidal-ideation (4).
• Participants with higher levels of gratefulness tended to be less depressed, which also reduced suicidal-ideation (4).

What are some caveats?
• This was a small study looking at correlations, which does not necessarily tell us about cause and effect (causation).
• Specific factors that increased the gratitude of participants was not examined.
• Individual responses may vary.

Where can I learn more about gratitude?

Here is a link on a specific gratitude exercise: http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2015/12/

Harvard’s link on gratitude exercise (click then scroll down the page):  http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/in-praise-of-gratitude

What are some resources to improve depression?

Counseling at the OSU Student Life Counseling and Consultation Service
Holiday stress article from the Mayo Clinic
Mindfulness and Body scan techniques at the OSU Wexner Medical Center
Depression information at the National Institute of Mental Health
Anonymous mental health screen
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

Could gratitude practices help you feel better?

Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.

References:

  1. Emmons, R. A. & Crumpler, C. A. (2000). Gratitude as a human strength:
    Appraising the evidence. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 19, 56–69.
  2. http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2015/12/
  3. Oleary K, Dockray S. The Effects of Two Novel Gratitude and Mindfulness Interventions on Well-Being. THE JOURNAL OF ALTERNATIVE AND COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE. Volume 21, Number 4, 2015, pp. 243–245.
  4. Lin CC. The relationships among gratitude, self-esteem, depression, and suicidal
    ideation among undergraduate students.  Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 2015, 56, 700–707. DOI: 10.1111/sjop.12252

How You Can Become More Resilient

By R. Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA, OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

Many students will experience more stress as the semester comes to an end.

Many will also experience other stressful events such as life tragedies, trauma, difficulties with finances, work, relationships, health, emotions, etc.

Practicing and increasing resilience in yourself can be helpful with these situations.

What is resilience?

Resilience has many definitions, here are some useful ways of thinking about resilience:

  • An ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change (1)
  • Emotional resilience is one’s ability to adapt to stressful situations (2).

What are some ways to increase resilience?

The key is to adjust.

The American Psychological Association’s report on Resilience (3) offers 10 methods to increase resilience:

Adjust your thinking

1. Practice developing confidence in your ability to solve problems.  It can be helpful to occasionally remind your self about times in the past where things were difficult and you problem solved through it.

2. Keep perspective.  Take a step back and remind yourself of the big picture, and where your current situation fits. Are you blowing things out of proportion? Or are you being realistic?

3. Keep a positive outlook by visualizing what you want instead of worrying about what you don’t want.

4. Look for solutions.  Stressful things will happen but shifting your focus from worrying about the problem to looking for solutions can be powerful. Just the change in thinking can help you feel better; and the solutions are a bonus!

5. Accept that there will often be change. It can be very helpful to accept the things that you cannot change and shift your energy to the things that you can change.

Act differently:

6. Move toward your goals:

  • Make sure that your goals are realistic.
  • Take a small step. Doing things regularly, even something small, that move you towards goals will help you feel better.

7. Take decisive actions towards problems instead of avoiding or procrastinating. This will also help reduce feelings of frustration.

8. Look for opportunities for self-discovery.

  • What lesson can you gain from the loss or setback?
  • The report goes on to say that many people who have experienced tragedies and hardship have reported better relationships, greater sense of strength even while feeling vulnerable, increased sense of self-worth, a more developed spirituality and heightened appreciation for life.

9. Connect with others:

  • Accept help and support. Counseling at OSU is a great resource.
  • Helping others can also benefit the helper. Some examples include: student organizations, civic groups, non-profit organizations, faith-based organizations, volunteer groups, or other local groups.

10. Connect with yourself:

  • Do activities that you enjoy and find relaxing.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, drugs.

The report also suggests other ways that might strengthen resilience:

  • Journaling your thoughts and feelings
  • Meditation/Yoga
  • Spiritual and/or religious practices

Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.

References:

  1. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/resilience
  2. http://stress.about.com/od/understandingstress/a/resilience.htm
  3. http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/road-resilience.aspx

 

 

Study: Happiness, Stress and Depression might improve with Gratitude and Mindfulness

By R. Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

There are many studies showing that mindfulness and positive attitude can improve mood, anxiety, and happiness.

But what exactly do you need to do? And how often?
A recent study suggests possible clues.

What did the study involve?
• 65 women ages 18-46 years, with a mean age of 28.35 years.
• Randomly assigned to wait-list or gratitude or mindfulness groups.
• Online exercise of gratitude or mindfulness 4 times per week for 3 weeks.
What exactly was the intervention?
Four times a week for 3 consecutive weeks:
• Gratitude group was asked to list 5 things they felt grateful for; and 1 thing they were most grateful for.
• Mindfulness group kept a mindfulness diary for listing thoughts, feelings, and emotions in the present moment; and did mindfulness meditation, called the Body Scan.
• This took 10–15 minutes to complete.

What did the results show?
By the end of the study, compared to the wait list control group, participants reported being:
• Less depressed on Edinburgh Depression Scale.
• Less stress on The Perceived Stress Scale
• More Happy on the Subjective Happiness Scale

Gratitude was more helpful for stress, and mindfulness was more helpful for depression and happiness.

What about effect size, side effects or drop-out rate?
• Overall effect size ranged from 10-20%,but the time commitment was also small (4x/week).
• Even though the intervention was a few minutes 4 times per week, only about half the participants completed the study.
• No side effects were reported

What are some caveats?
• This was a small study with specific exercises; larger studies to confirm results would be helpful.
• Since the study population was women only, we don’t know how well these specific techniques would work for other populations.
• Individual responses may vary.
• For the amount of time invested, the results are impressive.
What are some resources to improve depression?

Counseling at the OSU Student Life Counseling and Consultation Service
Holiday stress article from the Mayo Clinic
Mindfulness and Body scan techniques at the OSU Wexner Medical Center
Depression information at the National Institute of Mental Health
Anonymous mental health screen
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

Could mindfulness techniques and gratitude practices help you feel better? How do you know?

Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.

References:
Oleary K, Dockray S. The Effects of Two Novel Gratitude and Mindfulness Interventions on Well-Being. THE JOURNAL OF ALTERNATIVE AND COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE. Volume 21, Number 4, 2015, pp. 243–245