Incorporating Gratitude into Depression Therapy

Updated: Oct 10, 2018



When you're depressed and everything is tainted black, the last thing that comes to mind is gratitude. But as Ryan Engelstad discovered in his own therapy practice, having his clients develop a gratitude practice was crucial to their emotional growth.


What gratitude does is the following:


• Lessen depressive symptoms

• Improve sleep

• Decrease doctor visits

• Improve relationships

• Improve empathy

• Lessen aggression

• Improve self-esteem

• Increase mental strength

• Improve progress towards personal goals


With gratitude being so powerful, why isn't it practiced more often? According to Engelstad, "This is becoming a well-studied phenomenon wherein people are more familiar with and focused on the obstacles holding them back instead of the resources enabling them to succeed." Being grateful is particularly antithetical for those suffering from long-term depression, anxiety, PTSD, or low self-esteem.


Engelstad suggests that people ease themselves into gratitude by first noticing "less bad or neutral circumstances in their lives." By gradually widening your scope of understanding, you transition into gratitude more seamlessly.


An easy gratitude practice can be achieved through the following steps, which should take no more than 15 minutes daily:


1. Identify (up to) 10 things/people/circumstances you are grateful for.

2. Be quiet for five minutes and ask for guidance for the day.

3. Send love to three people who are bothering you.


Engelstad then takes it a step further by suggesting that you share your gratitude with others. Happiness increases significantly—between both parties—when doing so.


Much like meditation, practicing gratitude has nothing but benefits, so why not give it a try today?


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