How Just Saying ‘Thank You’ Can Help You Ward Off Depression: Act Of Courtesy Can Keep The Blues At Bay By Raising Self-Esteem
- Researchers claim that the act of courtesy can generate a glow of gratitude
- Saying ‘thank you’ can help people open up about their feelings to others
- A quarter of Britons will suffer some form of mental health problem this year
- The NHS last year handed out 60 million prescriptions for anti-depressants
It is only two small words.
But saying ‘thank you’ to others could be the key to beating depression.
A new study claims that the most basic act of courtesy can keep the blues at bay as it generates a glow of gratitude for the little things in everyday life.
US researchers quizzed 352 men and women aged between 18 and 58 about their personalities.
Questionnaires helped build a profile of each participant, revealing the degree to which they often feel depressive or grateful and also how they deal with stress and other people.
The team discovered that being thankful is linked to cognitive reappraisal – the ability to take a difficult situation and turn it into something more positive.
Meanwhile, depression was more common among those who suffer from ambivalent emotional expression (AEE) – the fear of showing others how you truly feel.
The study – by the universities of Houston, Texas and Pennslyvania State plus the Michael E DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Centre – concludes that getting into the habit of saying ‘thank you’ could prove to be an effective tonic.
Showing gratitude would help people who find it difficult to express their feelings to open up to others and divert them away from dwelling on negative unspoken thoughts.
The paper, in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, states: ‘Interventions utilising this mechanism could be quite simple; perhaps writing a letter that expresses gratitude to another individual, society at large or to a higher power.
‘Express[ing] gratitude for small acts of kindness could be impactful to their physical and mental health.
‘Interventions may help to alleviate anxiety symptoms and perhaps foster feelings of closeness and social support for individuals who are high in AEE, as they often feel isolated.
‘In responding appreciatively and with kindness, gratitude offers the ability to reappraise a situation in a more positive light, which may then be associated with lower depressive symptoms.’
The findings won backing from health psychologist Dr Cynthia McVey, of Glasgow Caledonian University.
She said: ‘It’s not just the showing of gratitude that will help people feel good about themselves, it is the reward they receive too.
‘When you say “thank you” to someone, they often respond with their own kind words – it’s a two-way positive connection that’s made.
‘Obviously, those who suffer from severe depression will require treatment of sorts.
‘However, on a basic level, quite often the key to feeling happy and contented lies in the small things in life; it’s about believing that you are a good and kind person.
‘So if you don’t have the money to donate to charity or the time to volunteer, giving somebody else a smile and a “thank you” is an easy way to make a small difference to yourself and others every day.’
The NHS handed out more than 60 million prescriptions for anti-depressants in 2015 – twice as many as a decade earlier – with the figure rising by around 7 per cent each year.
People are staying on them longer too with the average treatment now 169 days compared with 112 days in 1995.
It’s estimated that a quarter of Britons will experience a mental health problem this year and ministers have pledged £600 million by 2021 to help tackle the mounting numbers.
A recent report found that the ‘thank you’ note is now dying out with Britons now less likely to send a letter acknowledging Christmas gifts than Australians or Canadians.