A recent study conducted by David Cregg and Jennifer Cheavens from The Ohio State University has found that acts of kindness can be a powerful tool in the recovery from depression and anxiety. The study involved 122 volunteers with moderate to severe symptoms of depression, who were divided into three groups.
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The first two groups received the standard treatment in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which included social interactions and cognitive reappraisal. The third group was instructed to perform acts of kindness two days a week, defined as “doing nice things for people and focusing on the needs of others.”
After five weeks of monitoring and re-evaluation, all three groups showed improvement from their respective treatment plans. However, the group that performed acts of kindness showed marked improvement in the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
“Social connection is one of the most strongly associated factors with well-being,” says Cregg. “Performing acts of kindness seems to be an effective way to promote those connections and improve mental health.”